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The Tech Corner from the Feb. 22, 2017 edition

February 22, 2017 GMT

The Tech Corner is a technology news and advice column presented each week courtesy of Melvin McCrary at Georgia Computer Depot in Cedartown.

Yahoo announces another data breach

Last year, Yahoo admitted two of the largest data breaches on record. One of which that took place in 2013 disclosed personal details associated with more than one billion Yahoo user accounts. Now it has happened again.

The company admitted the breach in a security update in December 2016, but the news was largely overlooked, as the statement from Yahoo provided information on a separate data breach that occurred in August 2013 involving more than one billion accounts.

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The notice was sent to Yahoo’s customers on Wednesday, the same day it was reported that Verizon is slashing the price they will pay for Yahoo by at least $250 Million.

Gmail getting new security feature

Malware attacks often creep in via email, as attachments that unsuspecting users open on their work and personal computers. Google is now looking to make Gmail even safer when it comes to malware attacks by adding a new feature that blocks any JavaScript that would otherwise hit your inbox inbox.

Google already blocks certain file types that can execute programs on a computer, including .exe, .bat, and .msc files. But starting February 13th, Gmail users won’t be able to open .js files from Gmail. In fact, Google will not even let you receive JavaScript attachments anymore.

‘Vizio’ fined $2.2 million for spying on users

Vizio has been caught secretly collecting its consumers’ data through over 11 Million smart TVs and then selling them to third-parties without the user’s explicit consent.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Monday that Vizio had spied on almost every customer from its Vizio smart TVs through its Smart Interactivity feature, and rather than fighting back the accusation any longer, the company has agreed to pay a $2.2 Million fine to settle the lawsuit.

According to the FTC, Vizio also recorded the date, time, channel of TV shows, and whether you watched the program live or recorded and took all that information and connected it to your IP address.

Vizio has agreed to stop unauthorized tracking, prominently disclose its TV viewing collection practices, and get consumers’ express consent before collecting or sharing their information with other companies.

US judge orders Google to hand over emails to FBI

In this world of global mass surveillance by not the only US, but also intelligence agencies across the world, every other country wants tech companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft to set-up and maintain their servers in their country to keep their citizen data within boundaries.

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Last year, Microsoft won a case which ruled that the US government cannot force tech companies to hand over their non-US customers’ data stored on servers located in other countries to the FBI or any other federal authorities.

When the company referred to the last year’s ruling in favor of Microsoft by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a similar case, the judge said Google was found processing its foreign-stored data in a way that made it impossible for the US government to ask a foreign state for legal assistance.

Hacker took down 10,000 dark web sites

According to the Anonymous hackers, more than 50 percent of all files hosted on Freedom Hosting II servers were related to child pornography.

Those illegal websites were using gigabytes of data when Freedom Hosting II officially allows no more than 256MB per site, the Anonymous hacker claimed. In addition to dark sites user details, the data dump also contains backups of website database.

But when he allegedly discovered several large child pornography websites using more than Freedom Hosting II’s stated allowance, he decided to take down the service.

The hacker claimed to have downloaded 74GB of files and a users database dump of 2.3GB.

While it’s bad news for users who joined one of those forums providing their genuine personal details, law enforcement would be happy, as in a separate case, the FBI used location-tracking malware to infiltrate Dark Web porn sites and track individual users.

Deep Web Search Engines to Explore the Hidden Internet

There is a vast section of the Internet which is hidden and not accessible through regular search engines and web browsers. This part of the Internet is known as the Deep Web, and it is about 500 times the size of the Web that we know.

Deep Web is referred to the data which are not indexed by any standard search engine such as Google or Yahoo. The ‘Deep Web’ refers to all web pages that search engines cannot find, such as user databases, registration-required web forums, webmail pages, and pages behind paywalls. Dark Web is where you can operate without been tracked, maintaining total anonymity.

The Dark Web is much smaller than the Deep Web and is made up of all different kinds of websites that sell drugs, weapons and even hire assassins. These domains are not indexed by regular search engines, so you can only access Dark Web with special software.

TOR has long been used by Journalists, Researchers, or Thrill seekers in heavily censored countries in order to hide their web browsing habits and physical location, crawl the Deep Web and exchange information anonymously.

It is found that 57% of the Dark Web is occupied by unauthorized contents like Pornography, Illicit Finances, Drug Hub, Weapon Trafficking, counterfeit currency flow and many more.