6 search engines that abuse your privacy (and 3 that actually preserve it)

The following is a share from the folks over at @Techwarn – Enjoy

With the rise of modern browsers, search engines have become seamlessly integrated into our internet experience. Gone are the days of typing out “www.google.com”—now one only needs to type a query into the search bar (or address bar, in many cases), and in come the results.

Because of this streamlined experience, we’re less likely to think critically about what search engines we use. On Chrome? Sure, Google will do. Internet Explorer? Take me away, Bing!

The problem with this laissez-faire attitude is that it has a sizeable effect on how we experience the internet. Not only do search engines vary in their algorithms, thus impacting search results, but they also have radically different privacy policies. Depending on who you’re doing your searching with, you could be putting random facts about yourself up for sale.

The Naughty List


The scope of data collection: Enormous (don’t forget, Google follows you on YouTube)
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: It probably knows everything about you *sinister laugh*

Google may be the most popular search engine around—in 2014 it hosted 67.5% of all searches in the U.S.—but it’s a terrible choice when it comes to privacy.

As the search engine’s privacy policy informs visitors, Google tracks just about everything, including your search queries, your IP address, your phone number, your hardware settings—and more!

According to Google, all of this data collection is done for the benefit of users:

“We collect information to provide better services to all of our users – from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful, the people who matter most to you online, or which YouTube videos you might like.”

If that degree of intrusiveness makes you queasy, though, fear not: You can always make Google forget about you. You can also prevent Google from knowing your location data in the future by using a VPN extension on Chrome.

Once you clear your slate, you might also want to check out one of the search engine options on the Nice List.


The scope of data collection: Large
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: Its affiliated email system was recently hacked

Things have not been good for Yahoo lately, what with the disclosure that some 500 million Yahoo Mail accounts were hacked. That event alone turned many privacy-minded individuals away from the company.

Yahoo’s search engine isn’t anything to write home about (it’s “powered by Bing”), but it does have an ad interest manager that lets you stop Yahoo from tailoring the ads you see. It doesn’t stop ads from appearing altogether, but it at least makes the browsing experience slightly less stalkerish.


The scope of data collection: Large
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: It knows almost as much about you as Google does

The second most popular search engine in the U.S. (partially because it “powers” other search engines), Bing also records your search queries and other relevant information. However, because it is not integrated with as many popular platforms like Google (like YouTube), it could be seen as slightly less intrusive.

That still isn’t saying much. A visit to Bing’s privacy page paints a detailed picture of all the lovely things you share when you do a search:

“When you conduct a search, or use a feature of a Bing-powered experience that involves conducting a search or entering a command on your behalf, Microsoft will collect the search or command terms you provide, along with your IP address, location, the unique identifiers contained in our cookies, the time and date of your search, and your browser configuration.“

All in all, that’s some fairly identifiable non-identifiable information.


The scope of data collection: Large
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: Filled with nostalgia for anyone online in the 90s

AOL (sometimes written as Aol.) is similar to Yahoo in that it is “powered by Bing.” It’s also similar to its purple competitor in that it faced a privacy scandal of its own: In 2006, the company published the search histories of 650,000 users.

Frustratingly, AOL’s privacy page is far less detailed than those of other search engines. Rather than giving you a list of exactly what data it collects, the page remarks, “We collect and receive information about you and your device when you give it to us directly when you use our Services, and from certain third-party sources.” There are no hyperlinks for further explanation, no pleasant footnotes.

Basically, use AOL at your privacy’s risk.


The scope of data collection: Large
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: Its search toolbar is often bundled with other software, and it’s hard to get rid of

Ask (known as Ask Jeeves in another life) has grappled with its identity during its 20-year existence. Sometimes a question and answer site, sometimes pure search, it has lately slunk to the back of the pack in terms of volume.

Thankfully, it’s much more straightforward than AOL when it comes to letting you know what information it collects, including, “your mobile device’s geographic location (specific geographic location if you’ve enabled collection of that information, or general geographic location automatically).” Reassuring stuff.

What makes Ask a bit more aggravating, however, is its occasional role as a “browser hijacker.” Sometimes when you download an application from the internet, it will bundle in a “helpful” Ask search toolbar which you’ll install because you didn’t read the conditions when you were blindly clicking “Accept, Accept, Accept…” The result: Ask becomes your automatic search engine on all your browsers.

Even if such practices aren’t malware per se, they can still be pretty annoying, especially given all the data Ask can suddenly get its hands on.


The scope of data collection: Large
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: It’s still around

Lycos has gone through many iterations since the Dotcom Bubble and has even been sighted trying to spin off a brand of wearables. Will this new incarnation work? You be the judge.

Like other search engines on the naughty list, Lycos harvests a lot of data, including your IP, browser, and platform. It makes a point of saying that it collects “aggregate search terms,” which at least suggests that individual searches are not tied to your IP (hopefully).

The Nice List


The scope of data collection: Non-existent
Ads: No
Noteworthy characteristics: Open search results with proxy service

ExpressVPN is no stranger to Ixquick. The search engine has been wowing the privacy-minded since 1998, and despite having slower loading speeds than other services, it offers relatively strong results.

One feature that sets Ixquick apart is that it gives users the option to open search results in a proxy window, thus allowing them to view pages anonymously. The load times can be fairly slow, however, so it might not be practical for those on a deadline.

Ixquick takes a reassuring approach to privacy. The site proclaims, “You have a right to privacy,” and, “The only real solution is quickly deleting your data or not storing them to begin with.”

ExpressVPN wholeheartedly agrees.


The scope of data collection: Non-existent
Ads: Yes
Noteworthy characteristics: The performance of Google without privacy infringement

StartPage is an offshoot of Ixquick that queries Google, basically acting as a go-between. That means you get all the power of a Google search minus the disclosure of your personal information. The only downside is that you still get ads, but at least they aren’t aimed at you.

StartPage, like Ixquick, offers a proxy option for exploring search results. However, it is still somewhat slow and sometimes results in page rendering errors.

Another great thing about StartPage? It stopped recording users’ IP addresses in 2009.


The scope of data collection: Non-existent
Ads: No
Noteworthy characteristics: It offers a Tor service (3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion)

ExpressVPN previously reviewed DuckDuckGo and loved it. It doesn’t collect your IP address or other information, but it does record searches—it just aggregates them without affiliating them with other data.

DuckDuckGo is also unique in that it offers an onion service. This characteristic, along with its speed, makes it a top pick.

Of course, DuckDuckGo’s algorithm opts for the crowd-sourced over the corporate. A search on the current U.S. presidential election in the “News” category brought up Wikipedia articles as the top two hits, so be sure to look further down the list if you want more variety.

Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/6-search-engines-abuse-your-privacy/

iTunes Gift Card Scam


This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…

I think you get the drift here.  These scams will continue as long as people keep falling for them. So don’t be a sheep and follow the those who have falling victim to this scam.

Many individuals throughout the country have received scam emails meant to defraud them out of hundreds of dollars. In recent incidents, victims received emails designed to appear as though they were sent from a trusted contact, such as a CEO, CFO or management of an organization.

Emails related to this campaign display the name of a familiar contact and originate from various Gmail accounts.

Communication typically begins with a brief message asking the recipient if they are available, followed by a request to purchase several iTunes gift cards and provide the redemption code on the back of the cards to the sender via email.

These requests are commonly sent under the ruse of a fundraiser or charity, or state that the sender is unable to purchase the gift cards themselves due to time constraints. It recommended that users who receive unexpected or unsolicited emails from known senders requesting them to make a purchase of any kind to always verify the sender via another means of communication before taking any action.

Its also highly recommend informing staff, friends, and family about these types of scams as education and awareness will help to prevent further victimization.

Work and Play Smart my Friends and Colleagues


Manage and Overcome Procrastination So It Doesn’t Manage You

The following article was shared with me to repost here on #jermsmit for my readers. I think you all will enjoy.

By Alicia Wyant on August 28, 2018

We have a confession.

We put off writing this article for a few days.


Because of procrastination.

You probably knew that joke would be in here somewhere.

Like almost everyone else, you’ve procrastinated.

What many of us fail to realize apart from cute side remarks and the self-rationalization that you’ll always have plenty of time, procrastination can be a very serious problem.

Life-altering, actually.

Life’s Little Delays

Vintage alarm clock on a wooden table

We know that in general terms, procrastination is the act of putting off something for later that we need to do now. In some cases, much later and at the last minute.

Procrastination is more than just using delay tactics and skirting responsibility.

Without question, a lot of us have put off a task or two more times than we’d like to admit, but for the most part, we limit those instances to tasks with low stakes.

Significant levels of procrastination occur when you have a to-do list of items, and after addressing a few of those, you spin your wheels and do everything but attending to what remains on the list.

DePaul University psychology professor and a fellow with the Association for Psychological Science, Joseph Ferrari, define it further, “If I have a dozen things to do, obviously #10, #11, and #12 have to wait.”

He continues, “The real procrastinator has those 12 things, maybe does one or two of them, then rewrites the list, then shuffles it around, then make an extra copy of it. That’s procrastinating. That’s different.”

Though it seems simple and harmless, too much procrastination can do some actual damage.

From lack of sleep to always time crunching projects at the last minute to the stress that is induced by fast-approaching deadlines, habitual procrastination can lead to significant health issues.

You can also face poor and declining performance at your school or place of work. Delaying assignments or projects can result in below average grades or negative feedback from a boss or co-workers. Worst case involves flunking out of school or losing your job.

Procrastination can also affect us emotionally. For humans to maintain a fulfilling existence, we must have a sense of purpose and generate ongoing accomplishments. Failure here may lead to low self-esteem and a lack of ambition.

Thankfully, a majority of people recognize that avoiding our responsibilities can only go on for so long before consequences become a factor.

But even with the potential risks, why do so many of us procrastinate? What can we do about it?

Well, let us not put off those answers any longer.

Hold On While I Do This Thing, and That Thing and This Other Thing Too

Male writing in a notebook at a table

Before you get the idea that the fine art of procrastination is the domain of only party-minded students or lazy members of society, you should put that myth to bed.

It’s one of the most universally shared traits among people today. Though we can sometimes be quick to label procrastination as laziness, it’s not.

Whereas the definition of laziness is an unwillingness to do something, procrastination is a deliberate avoidance of what’s at hand. You fill that gap in time with other activities, until you finally get around to addressing your original task.

If you’re lazy, you’re not doing anything at all.

Why is it that so many seek out ways to delay?

Specifically, this delaying of the inevitable has more to it.

Procrastination is very much an emotional response to avoiding tasks we need to complete. In psychology, they call it task aversiveness.

Triggering these emotions to delay and put off responsibilities can come from any number of scenarios, some mundane, others that carry serious concern. The stronger the feelings against the task, the more task averse you’re likely to be.

A few examples of the most common emotion-based aversions include:


Arguably, boredom or indifference is perhaps the most natural way people become procrastinators.

Your task list is full of stuff that is either boring or of little interest to you. Usually, this encompasses personal to-dos but can also include the arbitrary, paper pushing duties of a 9-to-5 job or reading the necessary but dull chapters of a textbook.

When the items on your to-do list are tedious and dull, and the more you think about them, the greater your apathy. So you fill the time with frivolous activities that you (mistakenly) deem necessary and more exciting.

So instead of cleaning your house, you decide it wiser to add to your list of must-see movies. Before you realize it, you’ve spent an hour scrolling through Netflix, and the dust on your furniture remains.


This can appear in two ways. The most obvious is the challenge of a task. Few people enjoy working outside their comfort zone, and a tough project easily puts us there.

In many cases, this will manifest itself with the rationalization that you don’t have enough time now to deal with this challenging problem, but you will later. You continue with this mindset until you reach the point that time is up.

The second part of the difficulty comes from a sense of being overwhelmed. It’s not just one thing, but lots of things. The longer you put them off, the longer you can avoid facing the steep climb you have ahead of you.

The result is often the same as with the singularly challenging assignment. Once your delays finally reach a crisis point, you’re left with little time to reach the summit.

Lack of Value

Often in our work, we are tasked with projects that have little to do with our day to day responsibilities or fall in an area that possesses little worth or meaning to us.

Similarly, students may have to fight through low-reward coursework that is necessary for their degree but is of no interest to them personally.

Where clear purpose is absent, it’s difficult for you to find personal or professional value in what you’re doing. This leads to you neglecting your duties for things that you value more.

In a worst case scenario, you can disregard your assignment to the point that you address it under a time constraint and it never receives your full attention.

How to Get It Done

Male typing on a laptop computer

With procrastination, especially for those who are habitual avoiders, there are no easy answers.

Professor Ferrari agrees. He notes that “it really has nothing to do with time-management. As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

However, there are ways to manage and improve the urge to delay the things you need to get done.

While it may initially be difficult, developing one or more of these positive habits can push you out of an idling an unproductive rut.

Structure Your Time Accordingly

As Professor Ferrari stated, procrastination is not necessarily a product of poor time management. However, focusing on two time-related attributes can prove helpful.

First, think about when you’re most productive and create your schedule around that.

Are you a morning person that seems to thrive at the beginning of the day? Front load your early hours with your most vital and taxing projects.

Do you start out slow but then build momentum as the day lingers on? Then an after lunch agenda may be beneficial.

Schedule to your strengths and recognize your best times may be different from those of others.

Second, instead of viewing a list of tasks in terms of difficulty or interest (or lack thereof), look at it in relation to time.

For example, if you have five tasks that must be done by the end of the day, determine which of those five will take the shortest amount of time to complete and address them first.

In doing so, you’ll build up small wins and confidence and also maximize your window of completion for the laborious or less interesting projects.

Piece By Piece

What happens if it’s not a list you’re facing but a single assignment that looks to push you down a path of procrastination?

Break it up and take it one step at a time, much as you would the with the list of five different items.

Figure out what you can accomplish first and in the least amount of time and work on those aspects before moving on to the larger segments.

Depending on your deadline, working piece by piece also means spreading the work out over a period of time.

Focus on parts two and five of a task list on Monday, then tackle parts one, three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday. This way your project is not so much one big intimidating task but smaller, more manageable tasks.

Avoid Tech Distractions

You’re probably saying, “But everything I do involves tech.”

That may be true, but what you do probably doesn’t require all of the tech available to you at the same time.

For example, if you’re working on completing a spreadsheet in Excel, avoid picking up your smartphone or clicking over to the internet until you finish the spreadsheet.

Another way to manage electronic distractions is to set aside specific times to engage in non-work or non-study related activities. In every hour, allow yourself a five to ten-minute break to get your tech or social network “fix” before heading back to your work.

In many cases, you’ll find that as you get deeper into a project, you’ll develop a steady workflow and cadence in what you’re doing and blow past these set aside breaks as you focus on accomplishing your task.

Don’t Wait, Act Now, Time Is Limited

Person looking at a watch while writing in a notebook

Procrastination is by no means insurmountable.

Most of us are already aware that we do it to some degree.

For the repeat and chronic offenders, it’s vital to understand the root of the problem then identify what will work for you to overcome it.

Understand that you won’t fix the urge to postpone things overnight.

Remember to tackle the small things first and build up your confidence. Show yourself that you can achieve accomplishments without being distracted by meaningless side activities.

String enough of those small, but valuable wins together and soon enough you’ll go from “I’ll do it eventually” to “I’m doing it now.”

Make Time for School

With these tools to overcoming procrastination, you can find the time to finally make that decision to return to school. Connect with a counselor to talk about how it can be a reality for you.

Original Link: https://www.cornerstone.edu/blogs/lifelong-learning-matters/post/delay-delay-delay-how-to-manage-and-overcome-procrastination-so-it-doesnt-manage-you


Goodbye, Google+

Con te partirò , Google+

It’s been truly a fun ride, from private testing to the public launch. great hopes for Google+ as an alternative to other mainstream social media options.  Campaigning to get friends and family over to the social network,  but getting traction against those other platforms was next to impossible.

This all comes to a head as Google announced the shutting down of Google+ after failing to disclose user data breaches for an undisclosed period of time.  Its reported that the Company didn’t disclose leak for months to avoid a public relations headache and potential regulatory enforcement.

In a blog post about the shutdown, Google disclosed the data leak, which it said potentially affected up to 500,000 accounts. Up to 438 different third-party applications may have had access to private information due to the bug. Google apparently has no way of knowing whether they did because it only maintains logs of API use for two weeks.

“We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused,” Ben Smith, the vice-president of engineering, wrote in the blog post.  Smith defended the decision not to disclose the leak, writing: “Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice.”

Now the question I have: Are these cloud and these large-scale platforms too large to secure and protect our data?  Personally, I started self-hosting, securing my own data and information as much as possible. The attack surface with Facebook, Google, Facebook, cloud storage such as Box, Dropbox, Onedrive and email systems such as Office365, Yahoo, Outlook.



Check your website for Chrome distrust

Hey Friends,

The upcoming releases of Google Chrome September 2018 time frame is said to no longer trust certain Symantec, Thawte, GeoTrust, and RapidSSL SSL/TLS certificates. Chrome users will see “Not secure” in the address bar when connecting to websites using a distrusted certificate.

The folks over at Qualys wrote:

Google finalized their plans for staged deprecation of Symantec certificates. The process began in March 2017 when Google had announced on the Blink mailing list that they had lost confidence about Symantec’s certificate issuance policies and practices of recent years. The initial deprecation proposal was very strict and looked like it would completely paralyze Symantec, ending with limiting their certificates to validity time of less than one year.”

Ref:  https://blog.qualys.com/ssllabs/2017/09/26/google-and-mozilla-deprecating-existing-symantec-certificates

You can check your site for this issue by going to Symantec’s SSL Checker site: https://www.websecurity.symantec.com/support/ssl-checker

Preparing for Browser Distrust

On March 15, 2018, the beta of Chrome version 66 will be released and the legacy Symantec certificates will no longer be trusted (again, this only affects Symantec certificates issued before June 1, 2016). Chrome Beta is only used by a fraction of Chrome’s overall user base, but we still consider it significant enough that we are striving to replace affected certificates before that date. The “Stable” release—the main version used by consumers—follows a month later.

Firefox will distrust the same set of certificates later in the year. You are not required to take action for each specific browser—replacing your certificate once is all that’s needed.

These certificates must be reissued and replaced before the March 15 deadline in order to avoid untrusted certificate errors on Chrome beta, which will interrupt website service and obstruct visitors to your site.

The process for replacing affected certificates will be extremely similar to how you renewed or ordered certificates in the past. You’ll need to submit an order/certificate request, complete validation.

Replace Your Symantec SSL/TLS Certificates

This information keeps changing so here is a link to get the latest details as they are updated: