Google's Update to Its Gmail iOS App Raises Privacy Concerns

Episode 1072

Gmail iOS

The latest version of Gmail's iOS app will not only support background app refresh, but also will provide for sign in across all Google apps. This means that once a user signs into gmail, he or she is automatically signed into all Google apps. This also works for signing out. This is leaving users up in arms over the fact that Google is even more intrusive in their daily mobile lives. Users are also complaining that the app refresh will eat up more battery power. In Europe, countries are investigating Google over privacy issues as a result.

Microsoft Catches Fire for Reading Employee's Personal Email

Episode 1070


This week, privacy advocates were up in arms over the story that Microsoft had read the personal Hotmail of an employee they suspected was stealing company secrets. The argument was that that Hotmail is a free service that Microsoft owns and since the employee knows that, they had the right to read his email to see what he was up to. Microsoft has promised to go through more mainstream legal channels before doing it again.

Is Google Now violating my privacy?

Episode 1069

Neil from Sulfur, OK
Motorola Moto X

Neil got the Motorola Moto X and he loves it. Leo says that from a functional point of view, it's a great phone. The voice controls are great. Neil says that the Google Now's capability of always listening freaks him out, though. Leo says that there's no worry about that. It's very passive. It's not sending what he's saying up to the server, that would be crazy. It just listens for him to say "OK Google Now." When it gets that, it knows to wake up.

More Leaks from Edward Snowden Indicate NSA Plans to Infect Millions of Computers

Episode 1066

Edward Snowden signs

The most recent leak from Edward Snowden is about an NSA program called "Quantum." The Intercept, a publication created to release this information, claims that this quantum tool weaponizes the internet. It is a malware tool that can infect machines at an industrial scale exploitation. The agency has malware tools that could infect millions of computers worldwide that allows them to eavesdrop on the computer's owner. It can covertly record audio from the computer microphone and take pictures from the computer webcam.

Does Time Machine and Carbonite back up all users or just mine?

Anthony from Newbury, CT

Episode 1058

Anthony wants to know if Carbonite and Time Machine backs up all user data or just his own? Leo says Time Machine will backup all user data, but he has to be logged in to his account to see it. Leo also thinks he can tell Carbonite to backup all seeable folders in the backup settings. So if he has admin privileges, he can do it. He'll want to go into his user folders to do it.

Facebook Updates It's Permissions in Android

Episode 1058

Facebook's Android app changed it's permissions to include reading and writing your personal text messages, download files to your phone, and read your calendar events and confidential information. The nice thing about Android is that it will warn you about permissions and changes in advance. Leo says that it may be just to have permission to verify your phone number as accurate, and to add addition features. But these changes only serve to fuel the feeling that Facebook is spying on you.

Is sending your birth certificate online secure?

Ashley Witt from TWiT

Episode 1047

Ashley's having an issue signing up for Obamacare. His daughter signed up for the insurance through Covered California, and they sent her a letter saying they don't believe she really is who she says she is. They want her to scan her birth certificate and email it over the Internet. Leo says that authentication is one of the core problems with a lot of things, and is the target for identity thieves. Leo says that if it's being sent through the Covered California website, chances are it's encrypted and safe.

Privacy Was the Topic of the Year

Episode 1043

As 2013 comes to a close, Leo says that privacy, or the loss of it, should be viewed as the topic of the year. As the NSA has spread its reach further into our lives, even the major tech companies have taken out a huge ad campaign to say "stop spying on us." But there's also some nice things about a lack of privacy. Google has created Auto-Awesome Movies, a year end movie of all the photos posted to Google Plus. Leo says it's a great document to show the year, but it's also a horrendous invasion of privacy.

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings, Making All Users Searchable

Episode 1021

Facebook has changed their privacy settings, but this time they've eliminated the option to keep your page out of searches. This means that every member on Facebook will turn up in search results, even if they previously chose to not show up. This is largely linked to the graph search.

Leo suggests removing any personal picture if your name is fairly common, lock down your personal settings, and take out any way to contact you through the page. At least that way, you're not making it easy. If you really want to be anonymous, you can always delete your account altogether.