Twitter has removed over 1.2 million accounts for promoting terrorism

Twitter released its biannual Transparency Report today and it shared stats on how it continues to handle terrorist content. Overall, since August of 2015, twitter has removed over 1.2 million accounts that promoted terrorism. During the second half of last year, it permanently suspended 274,460 accounts for this reason, which is slightly less than what was removed during the first half of 2017. Twitter notes that it has now seen a decline in these sorts of removals across three reporting periods and it attributes that pattern to “years of hard work making our site an undesirable place for those seeking to promote terrorism.”

Of those accounts that were removed between July 1st and December 31st last year, 93 percent were flagged by Twitter’s internal tools and algorithms. Around 74 percent were suspended before ever tweeting — stats that are in line with Twitter’s report from the first half of 2017 as well. Government reports of violations are still on the decline. Last September, Twitter reported that government-originating reports accounted for less than one percent of removals. Now, they account for less than 0.2 percent.

In addition to the terrorist content updates, Twitter also shared information on some changes it has made to how it notes when content is being withheld. It’s now differentiating when content is being blocked due to a court order or because of local laws. The Transparency Report also notes that there was a 38 percent increase between the first and second half of 2017 regarding copyright violation takedown notices for both Twitter and Periscope. There was an 18 percent decrease in trademark violation notices.

Twitter makes a point to note the efforts of governments to limit online speech. “With the passage of new legislation and ongoing regulatory discussions taking place around the world about the future of public discourse online, we are seeing a potential chilling effect with regards to freedom of expression,” Twitter said in a blog post. To address that, Twitter says it uploads request for content withholding to the Lumen database, which collects and analyzes these sorts of requests. “Lumen serves as a critical transparency resource as more freedom of expression comes under fire, by making such requests available for public review,” said Twitter.

Lastly, Twitter reiterated its effort to “increase the collective health, openness and civility of public conversation around the world, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable toward progress.” In regards to that, Twitter also recently hosted a Periscope livestream, taking questions from the public about its policies, and launched a request for public proposals on how to promote healthy, open and civil conversations on its platform.


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School dropout makes it to Forbes’ U-30 list

Chandigarh, April 3 (IANS) A school dropout from Chandigarh who is now a cyber security expert has made it to the Forbes “30 under 30” Asia 2018 list.

Trishneet Arora, 25, made his way to the prestigious list which is packed with innovators and disruptors who are reshaping their industries and changing Asia for the better, a spokesperson for the young entrepreneur said here on Tuesday.

Arora is cyber security expert, an author and the founder and CEO of TAC Security — a Cyber-Security company based in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh.

TAC Security performs vulnerability assessment and penetration testing for corporates, identifying weaknesses in their cyber security.

“In 2017, Arora was listed among the 50 Most Influential Young Indians by GQ Magazine. He has received funding from investor Vijay Kedia and support from former vice president of IBM, William May,” the spokesperson said.

His name now figures in the Enterprise Technology category of the Forbes “30 under 30” Asia 2018 list.

Besides young international personalities from across the world, international badminton player P.V Sindhu from India is part of the Forbes Asia “30 under 30” list under a different category.

TAC Security helps corporates recognise their weaknesses before fraudulent hackers can use them adversely. It helps to protect networks and information assets from malicious activity such as cyber-attacks. TAC is also responsible for security assessment for 50+ UPI based applications.

Chrome Is Scanning Files on Your Computer

The browser you likely use to read this article scans practically all files on your Windows computer. And you probably had no idea until you read this. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Last year, Google announced some upgrades to Chrome, by far the world’s most used browser—and the one security pros often recommend. The company promised to make internet surfing on Windows computers even “cleaner” and “safer ” adding what The Verge called “basic antivirus features.” What Google did was improve something called Chrome Cleanup Tool for Windows users, using software from cybersecurity and antivirus company ESET.

Tensions around the issue of digital privacy are understandably high following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, but as far as we can tell there is no reason to worry here, and what Google is doing is above board.

In practice, Chome on Windows looks through your computer in search of malware that targets the Chrome browser itself using ESET’s antivirus engine. If it finds some suspected malware, it sends metadata of the file where the malware is stored, and some system information, to Google. Then, it asks you to for permission to remove the suspected malicious file. (You can opt-out of sending information to Google by deselecting the “Report details to Google” checkbox.)

A screenshot of the Chrome pop-up that appears if Chrome Cleanup Tool detects malware on your Windows computer.

A screenshot of the Chrome pop-up that appears if Chrome Cleanup Tool detects malware on your Windows computer.

Last week, Kelly Shortridge, who works at cybersecurity startup SecurityScorecard, noticed that Chrome was scanning files in the Documents folder of her Windows computer.

“In the current climate, it really shocked me that Google would so quietly roll out this feature without publicizing more detailed supporting documentation—even just to preemptively ease speculation,” Shortridge told me in an online chat. “Their intentions are clearly security-minded, but the lack of explicit consent and transparency seems to violate their own criteria of ‘user-friendly software’ that informs the policy for Chrome Cleanup [Tool].”

Her tweet got a lot of attention and caused other people in the infosec community—as well as average users such as me—to scratch their heads.

“Nobody likes surprises,” Haroon Meer, the founder at security consulting firm Thinkst, told me in an online chat. “When people fear a big brother, and tech behemoths going too far…a browser touching files it has no business to touch is going to set off alarm bells.”

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t mean Google can, for example, see photos you store on your windows machine. According to Google, the goal of Chrome Cleanup Tool is to make sure malware doesn’t mess up with Chrome on your computer by installing dangerous extensions, or putting ads where they’re not supposed to be.

As the head of Google Chrome security Justin Schuh explained on Twitter, the tool’s “sole purpose is to detect and remove unwanted software manipulating Chrome.” Moreover, he added, the tool only runs weekly, it only has normal user privileges (meaning it can’t go too deep into the system), is “sandboxed” (meaning its code is isolated from other programs), and users have to explicitly click on that box screenshotted above to remove the files and “cleanup.”

In other words, Chrome Cleanup Tool is less invasive than a regular “cloud” antivirus that scans your whole computer (including its more sensitive parts such as the kernel) and uploads some data to the antivirus company’s servers.

But as Johns Hopkins professor Matthew Green put it, most people “are just a little creeped out that Chrome started poking through their underwear drawer without asking.”

That’s the problem here: most users of an internet browser probably don’t expect it to scan and remove files on their computers.

When reached out for comment, a Google spokesperson redirected me to the blog post from last year and Schuh’s tweets.

A section in Chrome’s Privacy Whitepaper explains that “Chrome periodically scans your device to detect potentially unwanted software.” That exact language has been there since at least January of 2017, according to archived versions of the whitepaper. And similar language (“Chrome scans your computer periodically for the sole purpose of detecting potentially unwanted software”) has been there for even longer.

Martijn Grooten, the editor of Virus Bulletin and organizer of one of the premiere antivirus conferences in the world, told me in a Twitter chat that the behavior of the Chrome Cleanup Tool was “sensible.”

“For almost all users, this seems really harmless, and for those who are extremely concerned about Google seeing some metadata, maybe they shouldn’t be running Google’s browser in the first place,” he said.


Google shutting down URL shortener next year

google shortener

The link is very common on the web and was first launched by Google in 2009. However, the company announced on Friday, March 30, 2018, that it’s winding down the URL Shortener beginning next month, with a complete deprecation by next year. Fortunately, existing links will continue to work.

The URL shortener service launched in 2009 for FeedBurner and the Google Toolbar. With neither of those services available, the same is now happening to for both consumers and developers. The latter group is being directed to Firebase Dynamic Links with the announcement meant to “refocus” Google’s efforts.

many popular URL shortening services have emerged and the ways people find content on the Internet have also changed dramatically, from primarily desktop webpages to apps, mobile devices, home assistants, and more.

However, for average users that just want to truncate a link, there is no new alternative from the company, with Google suggesting Bitly and

Starting on April 13, 2018, new and anonymous users will no longer be able to reach the console to create short links. However, existing users will have access to all features like creation, management, and analytics until March 30, 2019, when the console will be discontinued.

Google notes “all links will continue to redirect to the intended destination” even after 2019, with users also able to export link information from the console.

Developers are encouraged to switch over to Firebase Dynamic Links that have the advantage of automatically detecting the user’s platform and send the user to either the web or your app.

URL Shortener has been a great tool that we’re proud to have built. As we look towards the future, we’re excited about the possibilities of Firebase Dynamic Links, particularly when it comes to dynamic platform detection and links that survive the app installation process. We hope you are too!

9 to 5 Google