The Purple Box - The Official Ghostery Blog Internet Privacy Browsing Tool Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:13:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New! Ghostery 5.4.6 for Chrome Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:13:00 +0000 release-notes

Hello Ghosterians on Chrome.

Ghostery 5.4.6 is ready for prime time.

In addition to a bunch of bug fixes we have a few new features to better understand what you like, don’t like and would like to see in Ghostery. We have added a few surveys.

For folks installing the for the first time, First off.. Thank you!! You will get in an Install survey. For those of you all ready rolling with Ghostery there is now a survey you can take if you want and is accessible from the panel.

The second messaging tool is what we call the “CMP” (Consumer Messaging Platform).  The CMP will allow us to message our users directly in their browser with product announcements, promotions, and other appropriate notifications.  This  messaging system and can be turned off at any time by accessing the advanced tab of the options menu.

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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Welcome to Ghostery Trackermap® Livescan Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:30:46 +0000 Hello out there!

We just flipped the switch on our new website! If you haven’t been back in a while, now is a great time to click through some of our pages and see what’s going on.

A new feature we are now offering is a free scan of any site you want through our Trackermap® Livescan.

What many users don’t realize is that consumers and site owners have many of the same problems. They just don’t know what technologies are on the sites they visit. .OR.. their OWN! Trackermap® helps you manage the digital blind spots on your site, exposing all the tags and their performance. Clean up and remove old tags and gain visibility into where your customers’ data is going. You can walk away with something that looks like this:


So swing by and check it out, drop us a line and tell us what you think. Click to get your Free Livescan.

Happy browsing!

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New! Ghostery v.5.0 for Internet Explorer Fri, 05 Jun 2015 13:34:11 +0000 release-notes


Hi there Ghostery Users on IE,

We have a new release for you! A Shiny version 5.0.   oooohhhh

We’ve been working on bringing the IE version up to date with the other browsers and this release gets us that much closer.

The Advanced Tab of the options menu should look familiar. We have added the Auto-Update section which has the “Block New Elements by Default” and “Notify Me of New Elements” settings. The Click-To-Play feature as well as the Import / Export file has been added. You can translate the extensions into 12 different languages. Lots stuff!

We also fixed a bunch of bugs that you all helped us identify, reproduce and ultimately fix.. so a big THANK YOU!

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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Pump Up The Data Jams Tue, 26 May 2015 16:54:21 +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

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Music to Your Specific and Unique Ears Tue, 26 May 2015 16:53:32 +0000 Music-to-Your-Ears-

Music to Your Specific and Unique Ears

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining why she removed her music from the popular streaming service Spotify, Taylor Swift wrote that “[p]iracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.” Swift went on: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”


spotifyThe message Spotify users see after searching for Taylor Swift’s latest album


It’s an aspirational idea, which is perhaps not surprising from a pop star famous for writing resonate and catchy love songs. Yet, she’s not the only major artist who feels this way. Rap and entertainment mogul Jay Z launched Tidal, a subscription-only service that is meant to lure users with high quality formats and exclusive music from its founder and other artists. “The challenge is to get everyone to respect music again, to recognize its value,” said Jay Z.


If Swift and Jay Z are concerned about the lost value in the process of streaming music, they should also consider the value of the listener. In the digital music era, artists aren’t just missing out on the kinds of royalties they used to see with whole album sales, they’re also missing out on the value of distributing the music. Sure, record stores always worked to add revenue with t-shirts and posters, but that’s nothing like the age of music streaming.


Spotify, the world’s leading streaming service, doesn’t resemble its record store predecessors. For starters, it boasts 60M users, many of which return every day. And while the service has struggled to sort out the complexities of artist and label royalties, it seems to have cracked the code on monetizing those users. While 15M of them pay for advertising-free subscriptions, the remaining 45M or so are an enormous audience for online advertisers and marketers. That audience supplies Spotify with a unique advantage that brick and mortar record stores don’t have: specific data about its customers and their listening habits.


Data about the average revenue around in-app advertising is rare, but according to a report released by Juniper Research, spending on advertising in mobile apps is expected to reach a staggering $17 billion by 2018. That kind of money doesn’t happen by simply displaying images, videos, or in-stream audio; it comes from targeting individual users. Mobile device data allows advertisers to draw all sorts of conclusions about their audience: the type of device can suggest income, the type of application suggests interests, and the hyper-local precision available in mobile location data is a truly new environment for advertisers.


Daniel Elk, Spotify’s founder, wrote a long and thoughtful response to Taylor Swift’s decision to pull her catalog from the service. He concluded by saying: “We’re getting fans to pay for music again. We’re connecting artists to fans they would never have otherwise found, and we’re paying them for every single listen. We’re not just streaming, we’re mainstreaming now, and that’s good for music makers and music lovers around the world.” It’s also good for advertisers, who have greater access than ever to our ears and eyes. This may be one of those cases where the market for data and advertising audiences produces something we find really valuable.


But as always, you should be aware of the data you’re sharing. Just as artists should remember that there’s more to the digital music game than royalties for their music, users must remember that you’re not only listening, you’re also telling the services you use all about yourself.


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Private Pirate: How Music Piracy Can Compromise Your Data and Security Tue, 26 May 2015 16:53:11 +0000 Private-Pirate

Concerns over cost, availability, and privacy may drive you to get your music through torrent sharing, but that comes with its own problems.


More than Meets the Ear

Peer-to-peer communication removes the need for a centralized server, but that also removes centralized verification of content in the files that are being shared. This means that anyone in the network can introduce files spoofed to look like music (or anything else that’s being passed back and forth). Viruses and spyware are easy ways for hackers and other assorted bad guys to collect personal data, while record companies have started introducing dummy content to “poison” the file-sharing well.

The Eye in ISP

torrent 2

Obviously, all your traffic goes through your ISP. They come into the torrenting picture in two ways – throttling and copyright enforcement. Generally speaking, ISPs don’t care about the content you’re sharing, just how much bandwidth it uses. Lots of torrenting traffic has caused many ISPs to throttle the bandwidth they make available – and this means your traffic doesn’t go unnoticed. Additionally, when the copyright owners look for who is sharing these files, this involves receiving records from your service provider. The financial implications from legal action isn’t the only risk: lawsuits mean a lot of personal data about your online activity becomes public record.

Tor Doesn’t Stand for Torrent

torrent 3

Savvy user will point to the Tor network, which bounces your traffic through a series of relays, making it much more difficult to track where these files end up.

But Tor comes with its own issues. Besides specific request from the operators of the network to avoid torrenting to cut down on network traffic, studies have also shown some privacy concerns with the network. First, bittorrent clients don’t always handle proxies the way users think – meaning traffic can skip the Tor relays completely. Second, IPs and port assignments can be traced through metadata about requests; painting a clear picture of the path your traffic took through the relay. Finally, some Tor nodes cache content, meaning there’s a retained log of the traffic that moved through that node, its origins and destinations, which any interested party could also track if they were so inclined.

Most people are well aware of the legal and moral implications behind pirating musical content, but often related privacy concerns go unnoticed. Before turning to file sharing to build your music library, stop and consider how you’re putting your personal data at risk.

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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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