“Relentlessly Protecting Your Identity”… sometimes
LifeLock prides itself on protecting its customers from identity theft. The company’s slogan is even “Relentlessly Protecting Your Identity.” However, LifeLock failed on its word when a customer faced an unusual identity-monitoring situation.
Ex tracked credit card purchases
An Arizona woman discovered that her ex-husband had set up a LifeLock account in her name, equipped with her Social Security number, that allowed him to track all of her credit card purchases.
The couple’s son discovered a five-page spreadsheet on his dad’s computer that documented every credit move the mom had made. The son then brought it to his mom’s attention.
In addition to her financial info, the spreadsheet included the woman’s passwords and answers to her security questions.
“He knew everything I did,” the woman told the Arizona Republic. “I had no idea about all the things he knew.”
Attempts to block futile
Once this was brought to her attention, she logged onto the website and was able to lock her ex out of the account. Following this discovery, the woman sought an order of protection to prohibit her ex husband from “in-person contact with companies or doing so telephonically or cyber stalking,” and from contacting any person about her accounts with “credit card companies, LifeLock, credit agencies, bank accounts, e-mail address, Facebook, etc.”
Company locked her out of the account
The woman successfully contacted the police and the court about the situation, but LifeLock appeared to show no concern. The company did not return her queries about the incident and even tried to block her from accessing the account in an effort to protect the identity of her ex-husband, who was the only one who could close the account.
LifeLock continued to give the woman the runaround when they sent her contradicting emails regarding the account’s deletion. The company’s tech support team explained “when an account is cancelled and then reinstated following cancellation, past records from the old profile cannot be retrieved or made available online.”
This was followed by another email that admitted the records were still available “to any law enforcement agency or via a subpoena.”
Lifelock gave in after story broke out
However, when an investigator tried to gain access, they were unsuccessful. The investigator did not receive the information necessary to access the account until after news of the story began to break to the public.
Due to fear of the company’s reputation being tarnished, LifeLock ultimately gave the requested documents to the investigator. They finally apologized to the woman and offered to pay her legal fees.
Moral: back up your claims
While the company eventually wound up doing what they should have done in the first place, this poses a good examination of business ethics. When a company claims that they will work “relentlessly” to protect a customer’s identity, falling back on their word is the ultimate faux pas.
Business owners have a responsibility to their clients and customers, and when they fail to uphold that responsibility everyone suffers.
Tired of transcribing screenshots? Put this Chrome extension to work
(TECH NEWS) This new Chrome extension takes out the tedium of transcribing all your necessary screenshots into your writing and does it for you.
My favorite part of being a writer is getting to interview people from various walks of life. My least favorite part of being a writer is transcribing those interviews.
Slightly easier, but still annoying, is transcribing information from a screenshot, photo file or PDF. Sometimes you have to get this information in a rush and retyping all of it slows you down.
Docsumo is making that process into a breeze. The tool allows for users to grab text from a screenshot for easy copy and paste.
So how does it work? First, it has to be downloaded as a Google Chrome extension. Once it’s part of the browser’s extension, it can be put to work.
A video on Docsumo’s website demonstrates the easy transcribing process. The developer does a Google image search for a shipping label as they need to quickly copy and paste an address. When the necessary label pops up, they click the Docsumo tool that allows them to drag and select the part of the label they want to transcribe (the movement of the mouse is similar to taking a screenshot on a Mac computer).
Then, the text that they’ve highlighted is transcribed into a box where it can be copied and pasted. Simple!
In addition to copy and paste, users can extract, edit, and share data. After that, all of the related information is removed from Docsumo’s server. Examples of when this tool is useful include: Invoices, bank statements, insurance documents, bills, and tax forms.
The tool is made possible through Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) which, according to Ducsumo’s developers, is something that comes in handy in many situations.
“Organizations often receive crucial information and data in image form of documents. These images can be a photo of a document, scanned document, a scene-photo, or subtitle text superimposed on an image. The real challenge for the operation team is to be able to extract information and data from these photos. It can take hours to manually pull out this data and assemble it in a structured way for record-keeping and processing. This process is hugely error-prone too.
OCR technology comes to rescue in this situation.
Optical character recognition or optical character reader (OCR) is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. This technology is suitable for photos of text-heavy documents and printed paper data records such as passports, invoices, bank statements, receipts, business cards, and identity verification documents. OCR technology is the way of digitizing printed texts so that they can be electronically edited, searched, and stored more compactly.”
In a world where pen-to-paper has slowly been fading away, Docsumo is here to give it another push further away.
Scoring productivity: Is this Microsoft tool creepy or helpful?
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft launched a new tool that helps monitor user data, but it’s not a work monitoring tool – it’s trying to judge productivity.
Just recently into the work from home movement, Microsoft launched their new tool, “Productivity Score”. According to Microsoft, this tool helps organizations understand how well they are functioning, how technology affects their productivity, and how they can get the most out of their Microsoft 365 purchase.
But to do all of this, the tool will keep track of how each employee is using Microsoft products. For instance, the tool will monitor how often video or screen sharing is enabled during meetings by employees.
It will keep a metric of how employees are communicating. It will show if employees are sending out emails through Outlook, sending out messages through Teams, or posting on Yammer. It will also keep track of which Microsoft tools are being used more and on which platforms.
So, Microsoft’s new tool is a scary work surveillance tool, right? According to Microsoft, it isn’t. In a blog post, Microsoft 365’s corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said, “Productivity Score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration, and technology experiences.”
Spataro says the tool “focuses on actionable insights” so people and teams can use Office 365 tools to be more productive, collaborative, and help make work improvements. And, while this all sounds good, privacy advocates aren’t too thrilled about this.
Microsoft says it is “committed to privacy as a fundamental element of Productivity Score.” To maintain privacy and trust, the tool does aggregate user data over a 28-day period. And, there are controls to anonymize user information, or completely remove it. However, by default individual-level monitoring is always on, and only admins can make any of these changes. Employees can’t do anything about securing their privacy.
So, user data privacy is still a large issue on the table, but privacy advocates can breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday, they got a response from Microsoft they can smile about. In another blog post, Spataro responded to the controversy. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365,” he said.
Although Productivity Score will still aggregate data over a 28-day period, it will not do so from an individual employee level. It will do it from an organizational one as a whole. Also, the company is making it clearer that the tool is a “measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”
Don’t want FB getting access to your texts? Try out Signal instead
(TECH NEWS) Elon Musk tells Twitter followers to “Use Signal” after WhatsApp announces new Facebook data-sharing policy.
On January 6, WhatsApp users received an in-app alert informing them about the company’s updated data-sharing policy. The message asked users to accept the new terms and conditions where they gave WhatsApp consent to share their information with Facebook. The updated policy would be effective starting on February 8, and users who didn’t agree to the changes would no longer be able to use the app.
The policy verbiage is concerning, but this isn’t the first time WhatsApp has shared some sort of data with Facebook. The company has been sharing data with Facebook since 2016. Back then, the companies announced sharing data would help “improve your Facebook ads and products experiences.”
But, Facebook’s data privacy practices are ones that have been controversial over the years and don’t garner much trust. Musk is recommending people to start using Signal because it offers two key things.
The app offers end-to-end encryption on ALL messages. It protects all text, video, audio, and photo messages, which can only be read by the sender and recipient. If a message is intercepted by anyone else, all they will get is gibberish.
Also, other than your phone number, the free app does not store or collect any other user data. The company is a nonprofit and relies on grants and donations to support development. It isn’t owned by any tech companies and doesn’t have any ads.
“The smallest of events helped trigger the largest of outcomes,” the app’s Executive chairman Brian Acton said in an interview with TechCrunch. “We’re also excited that we are having conversations about online privacy and digital safety and people are turning to Signal as the answer to those questions.”
In a Tweet, the company posted screenshots of app installs jumping from 10 million to 50 million. With Musk’s tweet skyrocketing Signal’s downloads, Acton does have a very good reason to be “excited”.
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