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  • WhatsApp to start sharing user data with Facebook


    Finally, which was feared has happened now. When the popular cross-platform messaging App, WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, it was assumed that the very premise of privacy on which the App was built, would be shattered. WhatsApp had gained trust and popularity based on its no ads policy and respect for users privacy. Naturally, Facebook buying WhatsApp had users worried that their data would somehow be shared with the social networking behemoth.

    At that time it was known that it was just a matter of time when Facebook integrated WhatsApp into its plan of minting money using 1 billion WhatsApp users. WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum has written a detailed blog post trying to assuage WhatsApp users frustrations. In the post, Koum said “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible.”

    “But what WhatsApp users feared is happening now and Koum may have to eat his own words. WhatsApp has finally fallen to the lure of money and is loosening some of its own restrictions, and has announced it will begin sharing a limited amount of user data — including individuals’ phone numbers — with parent company Facebook.

    Officially, WhatsApp says that sharing this information means Facebook can offer better friend suggestions by mapping users’ social connections across the two services, and deliver more relevant ads on the social network. Additional analytics data from WhatsApp will also be shared to track usage metrics and fight spam.

    However, WhatsApp users are convinced that this a sham and their data will sooner rather than later be used for advertising and making money for Facebook. WhatsApp is keen to preempt criticism, and says that although it’s changing its privacy policy, it continues to support end-to-end encryption. “Even as we coordinate more with Facebook in the months ahead, your encrypted messages stay private and no one else can read them,” says the company in a blog post. “Not WhatsApp, not Facebook, nor anyone else. We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”

    source: -

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  • Dutch Hacker Earns One Million United Airlines Miles For Finding Security Flaws


    Dutch Hacker Earns One Million United Airlines Miles For Finding Security Flaws

    Never did this 19-year old security researcher think that discovering vulnerabilities in an airline’s system would earn him one million frequent flyer miles. That’s right!

    Based in the Netherlands, Olivier Beg discovered 20 separate security flaws within United Airlines’ computer systems. As a reward, the airlines offered million United MileagePlus miles — a $25,000 value – for revealing 20 bugs to United’s program, as part of a challenge to help the company fix security flaws on its website.

    The bug bounty scheme was introduced by the airlines in May 2015 calling it an extension of its commitment to protecting customers’ privacy and the personal data they share with the airline. Through this scheme, they want to encourage bug hunters to discover and report vulnerabilities in the system responsibly to the airline rather than publish them online.

    This week, Beg flew to Las Vegas for hacker conferences using part of his winnings. According to Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation, the flights to Vegas cost Beg only 60,000 airline miles and €5 in airport taxes.

    United Airlines’ bug bounty program rewards security researchers up to one million flyer miles for reporting remote code execution bugs, 250,000 miles for medium-severity bugs, and 50,000 miles for low-severity issues.

    Beg reported about 20 bugs to United Airlines, wherein his highest single reward earned was 250,000 miles. However, he collected 1 million miles in total. He wouldn’t reveal what flaws he found.

    At the age of 13, Beg began hacking companies to expose security flaws and in the process discovered flaws in the code for Facebook and PayPal, which fetched him $5,000. Currently, Beg is working as the head researcher for cybersecurity firm, Zerocopter, and says he hacks for fun. However, he thinks he could easily make a living out of it. “I know a hacker who earned 250 thousand euros in two years,” he added.

    Bug bounty programs are not a new idea for the industry. Tech giants including Apple, Facebook and Google all offer awards to those who can point out flaws in their programs. Until date, United is the only U.S. airline to offer a bug bounty.

    source: - 

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