Category Archives: Privacy

Apps to spy on your childrens mobile phones

Social Identity in the world

We look at the growing number of apps that spy on the mobile phone activity of your children.  An increasing number of parents feel the need to spy on their children’s cell phones to keep up with who they talk to and what they share. One thing to remember is that all of the data you are tracking is being sent from your child’s phone to the Internet and then stored there. While all of these services use encryption to store the data, the fear it is out there is always on our mind.

While we feel there are better ways, we look at the growing market of applications. A step you can take on a schedule, or even better randomly, is to sit with your child and ask to see their phone. Browse through the pictures, apps and contacts.  Learn the slang they use in texts. Check for history in the Direct Messages of Instagram, Facetime talks and more.  Compare it to how  your job owns your work email content, computer and provided phone if you are paying the bill you own theirs.

Remember that cyber bullying is a real issue and we are proud to be on the Board of Directors for the Megan Meier Foundation. You should be involved with your kid online activity and have open communication. Do not rely only on these applications.

Watch me in the following video that aired Jul 2016 on KSDK (NBC) News Channel 5 about this very topic before we look at apps.  Follow me on every network as @IdoNotes (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and everything else)

Below is some of the top apps for monitoring your child’s mobile phone activity.

Opt Out from Behavioral Online Advertising with tools

Interest and online behavior advertising inundates us daily when websites use your browsing history to predict what ads you should see. Luckily, there are some free tools with participating advertisers that allow you to opt out. The advertisers in question dig into your life, peeking into your browser cookies so they can tell where you recently visited and what may entice you into clicking more ads.

The Digital Alliance Advertising Consumer Choice page allows you to view over 125 participating advertising companies and have a simple tool to help you opt out. I personally have visited this page more than once because this tool needs to be used on every computer you use to browse the Internet.  I also make sure to visit the Your Online Choices page that offers similar services but different companies appear. Depending on your browsing habits you may need to visit both.

Digital Alliance Advertising Consumer Choice - You can view the entire list of participating companies, see what companies have current ads customized based on your behavior and see what you have opted out from already. Use the Select All checkbox to make it even quicker to opt out.

Digital Alliance Advertising Consumer Choice














Your Online Choices - this service is a bit harder to scroll through the long list, with no select all. It does offer you the ability to quickly toggle on/off each advertiser, including those that are not reporting correctly.  It was interesting to see the variance of companies found on each page.

Your Online Choices



















I suggest you bookmark this page as I update tools or bookmark those sites themselves.  I was shocked the first time I visited to see the number of companies in the alliance that are not affiliated but share data access in the cookies for advertising.  Some would say you could also exclusively use Private Browsing services that every major browser now offers. However, it is not the default action of Internet browsers and you must actively switch to private tabs and sessions.

Leave other tools and sites in the comments below.  I am guessing many will say to turn off all cookies or use add on tools, but those can block cookies you use for other preferences or slow your browser down.  Either way you need to take prevention steps.

Instagram adds post notifications to help you stalk better

instagram logo

Instagram has added a new feature in their current release called Post notifications that allows you to get notified the moment someone posts a new photo.  You can think of this much like following someone with an added bonus.  Instead of them just appearing in your regular feed (or you having to manually visit their profile) you instantly know when a new picture was uploaded.

Instagram Post Notifications

To access this new feature you go to the persons profile you are wanting to be notified about.  Click the three dots in the upper right corner and the above menu will appear.  From there simply turn on post notifications. You will then get a separate prompt from mentions of your name, and comments or likes on your pictures letting you know they have a new photo to view.  Of course normal block and privacy rules apply.

So does this really mean more stalking? It does remove the need for someone to constantly refresh your page or profile. Mainly if you are public. Understandably a person would block someone they did not want following them. But how do you know someone is not trying to suddenly show up at places you are. It is all about posting smart and controlling what and when you share something.

Skype is storing your file transfers in their cloud now – where and how long?

Skype logo

With the recent changes of Skype moving to a cloud based architecture some of you may be seeing a link when sending file transfers. These transfers used to be peer to peer. Skype has not issued any statement or documentation where or how long these file transfers are stored.

Skype File Transfer URL link

As part of Skype’s move to a cloud-based architecture, pictures sent via chat are now uploaded to the cloud. All of our Skype clients are currently moving to this new cloud-based architecture, and once we complete the rollout, your pictures will show (as normal) inside the conversation. For the moment, to view the picture that your contact sent, all you have to do is click the link and log in.

As Skype declares above, they are storing your files in their cloud and then presenting them to you inline or as a link. I am curious about the architecture behind this and the availability of the images long term. Can the images be found using simple URL replacement? Are they protected with some form of attribute so only those that were in the chat get get access? Or can anyone with the link that can authenticate into Skype get the file or image?