August 24, 2018

By now it’s no secret that big tech companies routinely collect tons of data about their users’ online habits. And as Facebook’s recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica showed, sometimes they sell that information to outside parties without first telling users about it. As a result, people must always be careful about sharing too much information online. According to a new study conducted by a Vanderbilt University professor, however, even the most cautious users probably can’t escape the all-seeing power of Continue reading

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July 24, 2018

Last week, we took a look at the “robocallers” who use fake caller ID information to trick Americans into picking up their phones. Although they are undoubtedly annoying, these automated messages are far less dangerous than the human scammers who directly target vulnerable consumers. For instance, an older person might receive a threatening call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The scammer will then tell their victim to send an immediate payment or else risk Continue reading

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July 20, 2018

Back in the pre-Internet days, companies would pay a fortune to set up services that allowed them to limit the number of phone lines used in the office. This meant that a company with 100 employees could use a single number with extensions rather than set up 100 seperate lines. Once caller ID came on the scene, these systems would display the same name to the receiver whether the call was coming from the mailroom or the C-suite.

This pricey Continue reading

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April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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March 23, 2018

In the aftermath of Facebook’s data sharing scandal, critics of the company are calling on lawmakers to discuss ways that the social network could be regulated. To these concerned citizens, Facebook has grown too large to be trusted with so much of the public’s information. The video below looks at how America’s tech giants became so big and the ways that regulators could possibly target these companies in the future.

Questions:

  1. Do you think big tech companies like Facebook, Continue reading
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March 22, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the hyperscale data centers that Facebook relies on to handle its userbase of more than 2 billion accounts. With so much information swirling around these enormous structures, it’s easy to assume that any data you provide to the social network will fade away in an ever-increasing crowd. But not only can Facebook access much of the data it collects, the company also routinely shares this information with scholars and researchers. Users consent Continue reading

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March 6, 2018

Last year, hackers targeted the credit reporting firm Equifax in one of the biggest data breaches in history. While the company initially estimated the cyberattack had affected 143 million consumers, it increased that number by 2.5 million a month later. Then last week Equifax announced a further 2.4 million people had been harmed by the hack, placing the grand total somewhere in the neighborhood of 148 million. Unlike the vast majority of consumers who had their social security information leaked, Continue reading

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January 30, 2018

Yesterday, the filing period officially opened for the 2018 tax season, an annual event that many Americans dread. Along with the standard pain that comes with writing checks to Uncle Sam, people also get stressed by worrying whether or not they calculated their tax bill correctly. Matters can become even worse for these anxious earners if they receive a phone call from the Internal Revenue Service regarding back taxes they never knew about.

But while these calls are certainly intimidating, Continue reading

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September 8, 2017

codeYesterday the credit reporting company Equifax announced that hackers had breached their security systems and stolen personal information from 143 million customers. Along with names and birthdates, the hackers also obtained social security and driver’s license numbers. These pieces of data are basically gold to identity thieves, allowing them to make purchases, borrow money and more all under the victim’s name. “This is about as bad as it gets,” said World Privacy Forum executive director Pamela Dixon. “If you have Continue reading

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August 22, 2017

max-pixelWhen Bitcoin launched in 2008, a single unit of the mysterious cryptocurrency was worth just a little more than half a cent. Bitcoin’s value remained under a dollar for years afterward, leading many to wonder why anyone would invest in a strange new currency that couldn’t be controlled by any government or company. Besides being seemingly worthless, Bitcoin also operated through a decentralized network of computers whose owner was impossible to verify. This anonymity extended to Bitcoin’s users as well, Continue reading

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