Cryptee Adds DOCX Support for File Editing

· Andrew Orr · Link

DOCX Microsoft word document

Hot on the heels of its big 3.0 update, the next announcement for Cryptee is support for DOCX uploading and editing. You can also export documents as DOCX, making Cryptee a viable cloud-based private alternative to Microsoft Word and Google Docs. However, there is an extra security bonus to Cryptee:

A little known fact about docx files is that, due to the fact that they support macros, and other ways to execute code in them, they are commonly used by malicious third parties to distribute and spread malware viruses. Cryptee does not run / execute macros while opening docx files, allowing you to open / edit / save DOCX files safely, without having to worry about your computer getting infected.

Google Reveals Plan to End Third-Party Cookies

· Andrew Orr · Link

Google chrome browser window

Google wrote a post updating its plans for its Privacy Sandbox project. Its goal is to make third-party cookies obsolete.

we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete.

Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome.

I don’t know what the new “open standards” will be, but I’m definitely skeptical given the nature of Google’s advertising business. Will there be a new first-party tracking technique? Update: Here’s why the EFF thinks it’s a terrible idea.

Brave Prepares to Launch the Brave Search Engine

· Andrew Orr · Link

Brave search engine preview

Private browser Brave is getting ready to launch its own branded search engine with its acquisition of Cliqz.

The former Cliqz dev team, who had subsequently been working on Tailcat, are moving to Brave as part of the acquisition. The engineering team is led by Dr Josep M Pujol — who is quoted in Brave’s PR saying it’s “excited to be working on the only real private search/browser alternative to Big Tech”.

Interesting move, and I look forward to more private search engines.

Google Adds App Privacy Labels to Gmail

· Andrew Orr · News

Gmail privacy label

This week Google has finally made progress in adding App Store privacy labels to its apps. Gmail is the second app to get a label.

Firefox 86 Introduces ‘Total Cookie Protection’ Privacy Feature

· Andrew Orr · Link

Firefox total cookie protection

Firefox 86, introduced recently by Mozilla, adds a new privacy feature called Total Cookie Protection.

Total Cookie Protection works by maintaining a separate “cookie jar” for each website you visit. Any time a website, or third-party content embedded in a website, deposits a cookie in your browser, that cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to that website, such that it is not allowed to be shared with any other website.

Encrypted Cloud Storage Service ‘Cryptee’ Announces Massive Update

· Andrew Orr · Link

Cryptee 3.0 update

Cryptee is an end-to-end encrypted cloud storage service and announced a huge update on Sunday.

We’ve re-designed the entire platform, re-engineered everything from ground up, added hundreds of new features, and created an entirely new Cryptee experience for you. Along the way we’ve realized it’s going to be a massive leap forward, so we thought we should get a new logo too.

I think Cryptee is a great service and one that I’ve recommended in the past.

Email Spy Pixels are a Widespread Problem, Says BBC

· Andrew Orr · Link

Email spying

At the BBC’s request, email service “Hey” analyzed its traffic and found two-thirds of emails sent to users contained a spy pixel.

Defenders of the trackers say they are a commonplace marketing tactic. This information can then be used to determine the impact of a specific email campaign, as well as to feed into more detailed customer profiles. Hey’s co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson says they amount to a “grotesque invasion of privacy”. And other experts have also questioned whether companies are being as transparent as required under law about their use.

These pixels are tiny 1×1 images embedded in photos that can track a variety of data points. You could turn off “Load Remote Images” automatically in Settings > Mail, but then of course they would load along with other photos when you want to see them.

DNS Provider ‘Quad9’ Announces Move to Switzerland

· Andrew Orr · Link

Swiss flag

Quad9 is a non-profit DNS provider, so called because of its 9.9.9.9 DNS server. It announced on Wednesday it has moved its headquarters from California to Zürich, Switzerland supported by Packet Clearing House and SWITCH.

Quad9’s move to Switzerland is being facilitated by SWITCH, one of Switzerland‘s centers of competence for internet security. The foundation operates several critical infrastructures and has been committed to greater cybersecurity for decades to make the internet a more secure place for its users. SWITCH is taking a seat on Quad9’s foundation council and contributing to Quad9’s governance.

Interesting move. For many people, private services and companies located in a country like the U.S. is a negative. This is because of the Five Eyes Alliance.

Browser Favicons Can be Used to Track You Online

· Andrew Orr · Link

iPadOS show icons in tabs setting

Software designer Jonas Strehle discovered that browser favicons can be used to give you a unique ID that can be used to track you across the web. It works even if you use privacy tools like a VPN, incognito browsing, deleting cookies/browser cache, and others.

To be clear, this is a proof-of-concept and not something that Strehle has found out in the wild. Strehle’s supercookie program (which uses a Cookie Monster favicon) is a proof of the concept described by the university researchers.

Mozilla Adds Sex Toys, Dating Apps to its ‘Privacy Not Included’ List

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

I’ve written about “Privacy Not Included” from Mozilla in the past and I think it’s a great project. Mozilla reviews apps and products and scores them on their privacy. It’s especially helpful around the holiday shopping season. Recently I’ve been informed that, ahead of Valentine’s Day, Mozilla has added 50 dating apps and internet-connected sex toys to its list. They found that almost 70% of them had to be given a privacy warning label. This is important information in case someone finds their toy controlled by hackers.

Mozilla Adds Sex Toys, Dating Apps to its ‘Privacy Not Included’ List

Android Could Mimic iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency

· Andrew Orr · Link

App tracking transparency setting

A report from Mark Gurman suggests that Google could add the App Tracking Transparency privacy feature to Android. But it wouldn’t be as private since Google is ultimately an advertising company.

A Google solution is likely to be less strict and won’t require a prompt to opt in to data tracking like Apple’s, the people said […] To keep advertisers happy while improving privacy, the discussions around Google’s Android solution indicate that it could be similar to its planned Chrome web browser changes.

In other words, why even bother?