Bay Area: Join us 1/9 to talk about personal data security in 2019

Researcher Ashkan Soltani will discuss what happens when companies sell your data.

Askhan Soltani has worked with the FTC and as an independent researcher, exploring data privacy issues. Recently, he testified about Facebook's privacy policies before the US and UK governments.

Enlarge / Askhan Soltani has worked with the FTC and as an independent researcher, exploring data privacy issues. Recently, he testified about Facebook's privacy policies before the US and UK governments. (credit: Ashkan Soltani)

The Cambridge Analytica scandal. Data breaches at hotels, banks, rideshare companies, and hospitals. Facial recognition. DNA databases. We're living through the data privacy apocalypse and now it's time to figure out what happens next. Here to discuss that with us at the next Ars Technica Live is Ashkan Soltani, an independent researcher and technologist who specializes in data privacy.

Recently, Soltani testified before the US and UK governments about Facebook's privacy practices and how they make user data available to third parties. Soltani also authored the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which regulates large companies that make more than 50 percent of their revenues from selling California residents' personal information. The CCPA was signed into law earlier this year.

Soltani will be in conversation with Ars Technica editors Cyrus Farivar and Annalee Newitz.

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Eraser – Windows Secure Erase Hard Drive Wiper

Eraser is a hard drive wiper for Windows which allows you to run a secure erase and completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns.

Eraser is a Windows focused hard drive wiper an…

Eraser – Windows Secure Erase Hard Drive Wiper

Eraser is a hard drive wiper for Windows which allows you to run a secure erase and completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns.

Eraser is a Windows focused hard drive wiper and is currently supported under Windows XP (with Service Pack 3), Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2), Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7,8 ,10 and Windows Server 2012.

Read the rest of Eraser – Windows Secure Erase Hard Drive Wiper now! Only available at Darknet.

Meet Helm, the startup taking on Gmail with a server that runs in your home

$500 service couples the security of a private server with the reliability of the cloud.

Meet Helm, the startup taking on Gmail with a server that runs in your home

Enlarge (credit: Helm)

There’s no doubt that Gmail has changed the way we consume email. It’s free, it gives most of us all the storage we’ll ever need, and it does a better job than most in weeding out spam and malware. But there’s a cost to all of this. The advertising model that makes this cost-free service possible means some of our most sensitive messages are being scanned for clues about who we are, what we care about, and what we do both online and offline. There’s also the possibility of Google either being hacked or legally compelled to turn over contents.

On Wednesday, a Seattle-based startup called Helm is launching a service designed to make it easy for people to securely take control of their email and other personal data. The company provides a small custom-built server that connects to a user's home or small-office network and sends, receives, and manages email, contacts, and calendars. Helm plans to offer photo storage and other services later.

With a 120GB solid-state drive, a three-minute setup, and the ability to store encrypted disk images that can only be decrypted by customers, Helm says its service provides the ease and reliability of Gmail and its tightly coupled contacts and calendar services. The startup is betting that people will be willing to pay $500 per year to be able to host some of their most precious assets in their own home.

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Google backtracks—a bit—on controversial Chrome sign-in feature

Privacy-conscious users were unhappy at being signed in to browser without consent.

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Enlarge (credit: Google Chrome)

Google will partially revert a controversial change made in Chrome 69 that unified signing in to Google's online properties and Chrome itself and which further preserved Google's cookies even when users chose to clear all cookies. Chrome 70, due in mid-October, will retain the unified signing in by default, but it will allow those who want to opt out to do so.

Chrome has long had the ability to sign in with a Google account. Doing this offers a number of useful features; most significantly, signed-in users can enable syncing of their browser data between devices, so tabs open on one machine can be listed and opened on another, passwords saved in the browser can be retrieved online, and so on. This signing in uses a regular Google account, the same as would be used to sign in to Gmail or the Google search engine.

Prior to Chrome 69, signing in to the browser was independent of signing in to a Google online property. You could be signed in to Gmail, for example, but signed out of the browser to ensure that your browsing data never gets synced and stored in the cloud. Chrome 69 unified the two: signing in to Google on the Web would automatically sign you in to the browser, using the same account. Similarly, signing out of a Google property on the Web would sign you out of the browser.

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