The Purple Box - The Official Ghostery Blog Internet Privacy Browsing Tool Fri, 22 May 2015 21:20:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pump Up The Data Jams Fri, 22 May 2015 21:20:21 +0000 Data-Jams

Private Pirate: How Music Piracy Can Compromise Your Data and Security

Everyone likes to get stuff for free, that much is obvious. Digital media is becoming easier and easier to access through cheaper, often free methods. This is especially true for music, which is easy to find online from illicit sources and takes little time to download. What might not be so obvious, however, is the serious security risk you could be putting yourself at by employing P2P file sharing or torrent clients.

While the allure of downloading albums by artists and bands you love for free is certainly hard to ignore, it’s a temptation you should avoid if you want to be safe. Torrenting and file sharing can seriously compromise the security of your personal data, putting your financial and personal life in jeopardy. Even more concerning, you run the risk of being prosecuted for serious crimes.

Every File You Share, They’ll Be Watching You

When you engage in file sharing or torrenting, essentially you’re inviting anyone on these networks to walk right into your computer and take a look around. Anyone you’re downloading data from over these networks, with the right tools and know-how, can gain access to other files on your computer. Are you storing private files like medical records or financial information on the computer you’re using to share files? If so, anyone can get access to those files, makes copies of them, and exploit that information as they see fit.

What’s more, file sharing opens your computer to virus and malware risks as well. What might look like a never-released, rare Beatles album might actually be a malignant program designed to invade your computer and wreck havoc on your system. When torrenting, you could also potentially download spyware programs that can be especially problematic, as they allow hackers to monitor your every move on your computer, in an effort to steal credit card or bank account information.

I Fought the Law and the Law Won

Besides the risk to your personal data, downloading music from illicit sites could have serious legal repercussions. Illegal downloading is certainly prevalent, with studies showing that as much as 24 percent of global bandwidth is taken up by music piracy, and that popularity leads many to argue there’s safety in numbers. They can’t prosecute everyone, and you’re just a face in the massive crowd of people torrenting music online, they say.

But the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), in an attempt to protect the financial interests of record labels continues to combat music piracy through lawsuits, regularly threatens litigation against users who knowingly share and download music on these networks.. Past suits have been settled for hundreds of thousands of dollars, devastating the financial lives of downloaders who were caught. So downloading music from file sharing sites might appear free at the start, but in the end it could end up costing you dearly.

Talk to us on Twitter about safer, more secure everyday Internet usage using the #datajams hashtag, or check out our Facebook page. Also, be sure to stop by our booth at Boston Calling Music Festival, May 22-24 in Boston, and tell us about why you love Ghostery.

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New! Ghostery v5.4.4 for Firefox **UPDATE Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:26:39 +0000 release-notes

** v5.4.5 Update

Well those of you using Ghostery 5.4.4 in Firefox on Android may have noticed some “glitches”. We fixed those and hopefully everything will be back to “normal”. Please let us know if you don’t see otherwise at the links below.


Hey there you Foxy Ghosterians,

I’m very excited to announce Ghostery v5.4.4 that SHOULD solve most of the issues many users were experiencing with the icon disappearing, not staying where it was placed, unresponsive panel buttons as well as option menu display in newer versions of Firefox.

Your current version should auto-update unless you have turned that off from your browser’s menu, but if not, you can get the new version HERE.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember… If you love Ghostery,  and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

~Happy browsing!

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Ghostery v4.1.1 for Internet Explorer Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:08:19 +0000 release-notes


Hello Ghostery users on IE!

We have an update for you here. We are getting closer bringing the IE extension up to date with the other browsers. For those of you who do not have Ghostery installed in Internet Explorer yet, you can download it here.

Here are the features:

  • Auto Update (Block new elements by default, Notify me of new elements)
    • if enabled we will set all new trackers added to the library to block upon update.
  • Click-to-play (Replace certain blocked content with ‘click-to-pla’ overlay; Also replace “social” buttons)
  • Additional language support
    •  ‘cs': “čeština”,  ‘da': “dansk”, ‘el': “ελληνικά”, ‘fi': “suomi”, ‘hu': “magyar”, ‘nb_NO': “Norsk”,  ‘pt_BR': “português”, ‘sv': “Svenska”, ‘tr': “Türkçe”
  • Import/Export of Settings


  • Fixed the icon in navigation bar.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember… If you love Ghostery,  and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

~Happy browsing!

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The Curious Case of the Data Bully Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:37:48 +0000 Summary


When you first learn about how much data is being collected on the web, it’s common to react with something like “what could these companies possibly want with all this data?” That’s what we spend a lot of time exploring – who is collecting this data, who they’re sharing it with, and what they do with it. But there’s another group of people who take advantage of our data-driven online culture. These aren’t major corporations or government agencies – these are everyday people, gathering and sharing data for their own purposes. Sadly, you’ve probably run into one of these people. Someone you know may even be one of these people. They’re the trolls, greifers, doxxers and swatters that lurk in the shadows of online communication. It’s long been understood that the combination of relative anonymity and large audience provided by the internet can be troublesome – and when you add data in the mix, it can be dangerous indeed. Let’s take a closer look at these data bullies, learn their tactics, explore their motivations, and see if we can figure out how to avoid them.


Wait, Trolls and What Now?

Online data bullies, as a group, have a lot of the characteristics of a well-formed subculture. This includes a vocabulary all their own which can seem strange at first and confusing as you dig in. But it’s more than just vocabulary – the distinctions between the different kinds of data bullies can be important when applied to rules of etiquette and rules of law. We’ll unpack some of these distinctions in our Glossary of Grief and Gall.


Making Trolls Tick

One of the most interesting things about data bullying is how it differs from the kinds of bullying we see in the “real world”. By understanding the characteristics and motivations of data bullies we can learn to better avoid them (or to cope with them should they cross our paths). Anatomy of a Data Bully is a handy reference for getting inside the heads and hearts of the online oppressor.


But You’re Breaking the #1 Rule!

If you’re familiar with discussion groups on the internet, then you’ve heard the first and foremost rule – Do Not Feed the Trolls. It’s a more difficult rule to follow than you might imagine – are we feeding just by talking about them here? Data bullies have an natural immunity to criticism and civility – so how does one combat a troll that seems to get stronger with every effort set against it? In our Field Guide to Trolls for the Online Adventurer, we’ll discuss how to identify the first signs of trolling, how to fight trolls without feeding them, and what to do when you find yourself overrun.

Talking about being bullied is tough – but just like trolls can empower trolls, heroes can empower heroes. Follow #databully on Twitter or check out our Facebook page for more (civil and thoughtful) discussion.

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Glossary of Grief and Gall Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:37:31 +0000 Glossary
Stories about data bullying can be full of terms that sound very strange to the uninitiated. While we hope you’ll never need a deep understanding of online tormentors and their practices, we’ve created a glossary to help guide you through the discussion.

The Online Disinhibition Effect describes how restrictions found in face-to-face social interactions are frequently abandoned during anonymous (or presumed anonymous) interactions on the internet. The name “the Online Disinhibition Effect” was coined by psychologist John Shuler in a 2004 academic article that dissected a well-known internet maxim. This maxim (which contains foul language, click at your own risk) is abbreviated GIFT and was originated by the webcomic Penny Arcade (again, NSFW). Simply (and without profanity), GIFT states that otherwise reasonable, right-minded people will resort to antisocial and irrational behavior when given anonymous access to an audience. While the original comic was in reference to the behavior of online video game players (see Griefing, below), the idea is core to the concept of all types of online harassment.

Cyberbullying refers to the use of technology to harass or torment others. While the tactics can resemble in-person bullying, studies have shown that access to anonymous technological platforms increase the instances of bullying among high school students. Cyberbullying can take many forms, from using social networks for aggravation to more elaborate methods like the ones described below. 

Trolling is the practice of disrupting online conversations with intentionally antagonistic behavior. Found in online communities like chat rooms, message boards, and comment threads, “trolls” post messages that range from extraneous, off topic comments to direct hate speech in order to produce an emotional response from the other participants in the conversation. Trolls might take the direct approach and bully individuals, or they may knowingly insert bad advice or incorrect information into a discussion. In addition to firsthand disruption, a troll can have lingering effects in a community. If a group is sensitive to disruption, honest inexperience can be mistaken for trolling, and the debate over sincerity can be as problematic as the troll’s direct actions. The most repeated and accepted advice for dealing with a troll is to ignore their behavior. This is often stated as a simple rule: “Do Not Feed the Trolls.”

Griefing is the act of trolling specifically in the context of online gaming. While this may seem like innocuous behavior in the context of other online bullying, serious cases of harassment have escalated from this particular type of trolling.

Swatting is an interesting twist on data bullying, as it involves the unknowing complicity of law enforcement. Among online gamers, there are many that are famous for showing videos of their gameplay, often with live streams. Data bullies will scour the web for information about these gamers until they can determine their home address, and then using a service that allows them to block their own whereabouts, they call local police in the gamer’s area and falsely report an emergency. These calls are usually very dramatic, baiting the law enforcement agency to send a SWAT team. The live stream is interrupted by a squad of armed policemen, who are often caught on camera expressing their confusion when they discover that there is no actual threat. When the culprits can be found, law enforcement takes these crimes seriously. But like much data bullying, relative anonymity can make tracking down the tormenter very difficult. 

Doxxing is the practice of finding and publicly posting someone’s  personally identifiable information online. The term comes from an abbreviation for “documents”. Through a combination of publicly available databases, social networking sites, social engineering, and even outright hacking, doxxers discover information like home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, medical information, school records, etc. – and post all of this for wide consumption. While this practice has been used in some notable instances to identify criminals, it has been also been used to retaliate against activists or simply to harass individuals. Doxxing is data bullying in its purest form – turning the availability of information into a tool for persecution.

Revenge Porn is made up of sexually explicit images shared publicly without the consent of the images’ subjects. Typically these are images shared during a romantic relationship which are posted after the relationship has ended, hence the “revenge”. But the term “revenge porn” has also been used to describe any explicit imagery collected and shared without the subject’s consent. In the most egregious cases, revenge porn websites have posted these images alongside personal information about the subjects, including full names and links to social network profiles. Lawmakers across the world have reacted to the phenomenon, most notably Israel – which became the first country to declare posting revenge porn a sex crime.

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The Field Guide to Trolls for the Online Adventurer Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:37:14 +0000 FIeld-Guide
So, you think you have encountered a troll, and a particularly nasty variety at that. By now you’ve heard the advice “do not feed the trolls”, and that’s an important part of bully avoidance, but there are several additional steps you can take to fully cope with this encounter. You’ll need emotional control, a clear understanding of this adversary, and some moderate preparation – and you’ll limit the troll’s options for real harm to come to you.


Your Anger Does Not Make You Powerful

It’s important to check your feelings when you first encounter online bullying. This is easier said than done, of course, because the bullies are specifically looking for an emotional reaction, and many are very good at forcing that reaction. But whether you’re seeing warning signs that a troll may have entered a conversation or you’re beyond the discovery phase and you’ve been attacked directly, denying the troll your emotional response is key. Venting those emotions somewhere can be helpful – try talking to a friend or like-minded coworker, but be careful to let them know that you’re not recruiting them for action, just blowing off steam.


No Road is the High Road

Engaging the troll directly is so rarely fruitful that it’s best to assume nothing good will come of it. You’ll be tempted to take a high road, to be reasonable and clear, to simply express your opinion and move on from the toxic interaction. In his excellent article “Don’t Feed the Haters: The Confessions of a Former Troll”, writer Paul Jun points out that he has “never seen a troll lay down his or her arms and say, ‘You know what, you’re right. I was so wrong.’” You must resist the urge to respond directly to a troll, even with rational appeal. But it does not mean you have to do nothing.


Troll-Slaying Tools Anyone Can Use

Popular communication tools come with the ability to prevent communication if you’d like. Blocking, ignoring, and unfollowing are all options you should consider if your troll has stopped short of threatening behavior and is only looking to push buttons, removing their comments from your feeds and threads can be an extraordinarily effective option. GigaOm editorial assistant Biz Carson has done a lot of the leg work for us – check out her detailed explanation of how to unfollow, mute or ignore people on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and more. Sometimes, though, a troll will keep coming back with persona after persona, and blocking them individually can be difficult. Consider reporting repeat offenders to the message board moderators, website publishers, or operators of the social networks where you’re finding the troll. These sites take these claims seriously and have shown real dedication to improving their ability to combat this behavior. For example, Twitter issued new tools in December 2014 that are meant to help reduce response time from its staff. 

Starting today we’re rolling out an improved way to flag abusive Tweets. See how it works.

— Twitter Support (@Support) December 2, 2014


Preparing for the Wilds of the Internet

If you’re concerned that your activities online may be a target for bullying, there are some preventative measures you can take. Much of the advice we always have for protecting your online data comes into play here – using tools like Ghostery and Tor can help make it more difficult to track you down. But as the host of a feminist podcast about gaming, Ken Gagne wisely decided to take the additional step of contacting key data brokers to have his information removed,  with mostly positive results. He chronicled his efforts in an article for ComputerWorld called “Doxxing defense: Remove your personal info from data brokers”, and it’s well worth a read if you find yourself embarking out to choppy internet waters.

For an even more in-depth proactive approach to online harassment, consider the exhaustive surveillance self-defense guide from the EFF. Activist Nadia Kayyali and International Director Danny O’Brien wrote about the organization’s efforts to combat online harassment in January in a blog post which contains several best practices and additional resources.


Online Adventuring is Risky, but Rewarding

Like any new world with dense and diverse populations, the internet is full of potentially dangerous interactions. Above all, one should not let the fear of trolls keep you from venturing forth, and certainly not if your intent is to speak out and do good. Data bullying isn’t the first time a new technology has been used for ill, and it’s not likely that we’ll ever see an absolute end to harassment. But by being careful and working together, we can reduce trolls to an annoying footnote in the field guide to the data-driven world.

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Ghostery Privacy Browser v1.2 for Android Wed, 15 Apr 2015 19:54:56 +0000 release-notes

Howdy all you Ghostery-Droiders

Happy to announce Ghostery 1.2 for Android.  We fixed a few issues and added some new features, but we are most excited to add a new beta feature called “GhostMode”. Like incognito mode on chrome, you can visit a site and Ghostery won’t save any cookies and wipes your history on exit. Let us know what you think!

Thanks to all of our users who have reported back to us!

Release Notes:


  • Ghost Mode (Beta) – private browsing
  • Added bookmark folder organization
  • Option to always request desktop site (for tablet users)
  • Improved request desktop site functionality
  • Now shows date library was last updated
  • Can now upload files to websites

Bug fixes

  • Tab crash issues
  • Bluetooth keyboard enter key now working
  • Minor UI fixes

You can read a review of the new browser from Android Authority, and download it from the Google Play and Amazon app stores. Give the app a try and give us your thoughts and questions here in the comments, at our support forum, on Facebook and Twitter, or email

And remember…If you love Ghostery , and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

Happy Browsing!


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Anatomy of Data Bullies Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:48:54 +0000 Data-Bullies_INFOGRAPHIC_2

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New! Ghostery v4.0.1 for IE Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:05:34 +0000 release-notes

Hello Ghostery users on IE!

We have a release ready for you here that should solve a few issues reported. We really appreciate all the feedback we have received. We couldn’t do it without you!

Here is what we fixed:

  • Fixed the “Show Badge over Icon” display
  • Solved multiple foreign language display and translation issues
  • Fixed a display issue when page is refreshed
  • Solved a crashing issue for users on IE8
  • Fixed a display issue within the alert bubble not having trackers crossed out.
  • Added Ghostery build number to the versioning within Options > About page.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember… If you love Ghostery,  and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

~Happy browsing!

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Ghostery Privacy Browser and Blackphone Team Up! Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:20:54 +0000 blackphone-purp-box

Hello All in Ghostery land!

Today we are really excited to announce our partnership with Blackphone. For those of you who haven’t heard about Blackphone, its the first mobile device designed with your privacy and security in mind. You can read more about the phone itself here.

In 2014 Silent Circle created Blackphone – the world’s first private-by-default smartphone. Early this year saw the launch of the Silent Store, which features curated apps reviewed by Silent Circle for privacy and security practices. Each app’s requested permissions are listed explicitly, so that users can download with confidence while exploring new apps and services.

The Ghostery Privacy Browser combines the utility of a fully functional mobile browser with the same privacy features Ghostery provides with its desktop browser plugin. In addition to features and functionality common to leading mobile browsers, the Ghostery Privacy Browser delivers advanced privacy features such as;

  •      Displays a list of trackers and the ability for individuals to block various digital tools and social widgets
  •      Blocking new trackers by default
  •      Whitelist regularly used sites for faster performance

Users of the Blackphone’s PrivatOS operating system and communication tools now have access to the most private and informative mobile web browser.

“As part of providing a secure mobile experience it is important to provide a secure browsing experience.  Ghostery provides Silent Circle’s Blackphone customers a means to have a private and transparent browsing solution,” said Daniel Ford, D.Sc., Chief Security Officer of Silent Circle.

The Ghostery Privacy Browser for Blackphone can be downloaded at the Silent Store.

Give the app a try and give us your thoughts and questions here in the comments, at our support forum, on Facebook and Twitter, or email

And remember…If you love Ghostery , and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

Happy Browsing!


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