Are you compromised?

From CCleaner crises to Equifax hacks to Kaspersky confusion, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks for privacy.

Update your CCleaner right now

CCleaner, a popular utility for cleaning up computers, clears out unnecessary temporary files, removes browsing history and cookies, and streamlines your computer’s registry.

CCleaner is made by Piraform, which was recently acquired by Avast, the antivirus company.

In a blog post on Sept. 18, Piraform announced that CCleaner had been compromised with rogue code that could allow malicious software to harvest personal information and send it out to bad people with bad intentions.

They further stated that the problem was corrected and the situation is being investigated by law enforcement. Read the announcement here.

If yours is one of the 2.7 million computers with CCleaner installed, you should either uninstall it completely, or immediately update it to the newest version which you will find here.
Monitor the heck out of your credit, even in Canada

Equifax, one of the Big Three U.S. consumer credit reporting agencies, was hacked, exposing personally identifiable information for roughly 200 million people in the United States and the U.K.

We know that because privacy laws in the United States and Europe require people to be notified when there’s a problem like that with personal data.

How many Canadians are now vulnerable to identity theft resulting from this security breach? We have no idea. There’s no requirement in Canada for companies to notify the people affected by a security breach, or even disclose that a breach occurred.

Canada’s federal privacy commission found out about the Equifax breach just like the rest of us: from media reports.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has received a number of complaints and calls from individuals concerned about a data breach at Equifax Inc.:

"After learning about the breach via media reports, our office contacted Equifax to seek information, including details on how Canadians were affected. Discussions with Equifax are ongoing and the company is cooperating with our office."

Consumers in the U.S. can request the credit bureaus not provide their information to anyone. This would theoretically stop an identity thief from obtaining a loan or buying a car or getting a credit card with a stolen identity.

Apparently, that’s not exactly possible in Canada. I don’t know a way out of this except to monitor the heck out of your credit. Services that do that don’t prevent identity theft, but might catch it sooner.

The U.S. government banned Kaspersky products

This seems a little weird. On Sept. 13, the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive to its departments and agencies to get rid of Kaspersky products"

"The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks.

"The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security."

Kaspersky denies inappropriate ties to Russian intelligence and other government agencies.

The DHS order affects all computer systems in the Executive Branch. The Senate passed a bill on Sept. 18 to extend the ban to all government computers.

What do you do to protect your data? Are you happy with the results? Comment here: [email protected].


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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