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Newsletter Issue #598: Revisiting the Dangers of the Internet

The questions of Internet security are filling blogs and news reports more often these days. Both Apple and Google recently appeared in Congress to explain their privacy policies, in the wake of the discovery that the Location feature of iOS devices was flawed. Security researchers discovered this “nasty secret,” that the tracking file created to allow these gadgets to know, roughly speaking, where you are at any particular time, were not being deleted when Location was switched off.

As usual with such sessions, politicians use the opportunity to posture and swagger in the guise of asking critical questions about problems that might affect their constituents. They hope for the sound bites that will lead broadcast news and cable outlets that evening, not to mention the ads in the next campaign season.

This time, Apple beat Congress to the punch, making most of the critical fixes to the iOS ahead of that session. So, the tracking cache won’t be copied to iTunes as part of your backup, data over seven days old will be removed, and, if you turn the thing off, it is really off. The latter was, according to Apple, a bug. It wasn’t meant to work that way.

At the same time, there came reports of a new effort a social engineering involving fake Mac security software. This is the sort of problem that already exists on the Windows platform, where an app pretends to scan your computer, and warns you of non-existent virus infections. You want to get rid of them? Buy a license for the app and you will be perfectly safe. But not safe from someone who wants to steal your hard-earned money for a service that doesn’t do anything — other than line the pockets of the developers.

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