President Joe Biden’s Venmo account was discovered after just a few minutes of searching, Buzzfeed News reported on Friday.
The transactions on the account were set to private, but it was reportedly linked to Biden’s family members.
Venmo accounts by default display connections, or “friends.” Accounts for Biden’s children and grandchildren were among those connected to the president’s account, according to Buzzfeed. The account had a handful of connections.
The search for Biden’s account began after The New York Times on Friday published an inside look at Biden’s time in the White House. The story said: “One advisor said he had sent the grandchildren money using Venmo.”
With that info in hand, it took “less than 10 minutes” to find Biden’s account, Buzzfeed said. Accounts linked to Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden were removed following the report, according to the outlet.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, a Venmo spokesperson said: “The safety and privacy of all Venmo users and their information is always a top priority, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Customers always have the ability to make their transactions private and determine their own privacy settings in the app. We’re consistently evolving and strengthening the privacy measures for all Venmo users to continue to provide a safe, secure place to send and spend money.”
Venmo has been in the political spotlight recently after Joel Greenberg, an ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, reportedly made more than 150 payments via Venmo to dozens of women, as well as a 17-year-old girl. In one instance, Gaetz reportedly sent $900 to Greenberg.
In 2019, amidst a flock of billionaires gathered at the annual Sun Valley retreat in Idaho, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly had an ill-fated meeting.
Zuckerberg asked for Cook’s advice on dealing with user privacy issues in the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where data from over 50 million Facebook accounts was harvested, the New York Times reported on Monday, and Cook’s response “stunned” the young Facebook CEO.
Cook reportedly instructed Zuckerberg to delete all of the user data his company collects from outside of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
It was tantamount to Cook telling Zuckerberg that Facebook’s core business was “untenable,” according to the report.
Facebook and Apple have sparred publicly for years over privacy issues, going back to at least 2014 when Cook called out the business models of companies like Google and Facebook in an interview with Charlie Rose. “I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money,” he said. “And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried. And you should really understand what’s happening to that data.”
Most recently, Apple appeared to take a direct shot at Facebook and with its iOS 14.5 update, coming this week, that will allow iPhone users worldwide to opt-out of tracking. In short, the new update enables iPhone users to stop Facebook from tracking them outside of Facebook’s own apps: The same suggestion Cook is said to have given Zuckerberg back in 2019.
Neither Apple nor Facebook responded to a request for comment as of publishing.
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There’s no shortage of peer-to-peer digital payment apps; in 2017, Zelle joined the ranks of services like PayPal and Venmo as a simple way to send and receive money via your mobile device. Unlike the alternatives, though, Zelle is backed by hundreds of banks and directly transfers money between accounts in minutes.
That speed – and its status as the “official” digital payment system built into many banking apps – makes it a target for criminal activity, which has led some experts to question the app’s overall safety.
Zelle is safe if you know who you’re sending money to
Zelle was built by banks and was engineered to be safe. “Zelle is safe because it uses data encryption which offers users increased protection. From a privacy perspective, it’s safer than alternatives, like Venmo and Cash App, since it’s harder for scammers to access users’ personal information,” said Nishank Khanna, chief marketing officer at Clarify Capital.
But some well-publicized incidents of fraud are a cause for concern, and Zelle’s consumer protection isn’t especially robust if things go wrong.
The biggest drawback of Zelle is that it doesn’t offer fraud protection for authorized payments. In other words, if you purchase something online and use Zelle to pay for it, you have no recourse if you never receive the item you paid for.
For example, if you use Zelle to purchase an item from Craigslist, and it turns out you were scammed, Zelle won’t refund you. Thus, Zelle advises that you only use the service to pay people you absolutely know and trust.
Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com said, “The key with Zelle is to only send money to people you know and trust. Once the money is sent, it’s gone. There’s no pending status, no chargeback mechanism, no buyer protections of any sort. If you send money to the wrong person, you’re basically at the mercy of that stranger to send it back.”
In fact, some criminals try to capitalize on that. “Some scammers deliberately encourage you to pay them via Zelle with the intent of stealing your money. If someone you don’t know is requesting a payment via Zelle, I’d suggest declining,” Rossman said.
“Zelle’s ease-of-use can also make it possible for malicious parties and fraudsters to use social engineering to acquire Zelle credentials,” said Tom Kelly, president and CEO of consumer privacy company IDX. Social engineering is when a scammer lies about their identity or goal to trick victims into giving them personal information.
Criminals have used social engineering to contact victims and request the two-factor code that Zelle requires to set up accounts. In situations like this, criminals can easily set up a Zelle account on their own device using a victim’s credentials.
Europe’s leading privacy regulator is investigating whether Facebook broke the law in its handling of a leak of over 533 million people’s phone numbers and personal data.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, the body charged with overseeing Facebook’s privacy compliance in the European Union, announced it had opened an investigation into the social media giant on Wednesday. If Facebook is found to have violated the EU’s data rules, it could face a monetary fine of up to 4% of its $86 billion global revenue.
In a statement, the DPC said it believes EU data rules “may have been, and/or are being, infringed in relation to Facebook Users’ personal data.”
The personal data of over 533 million Facebook users were dumped online for free in a hacking forum earlier this month, Insider first reported. The data included phone numbers that users didn’t make public on their Facebook profiles, which were scraped by cybercriminals in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Insider that the company is “cooperating fully” with the investigation, adding that the DPC is probing a now-patched vulnerability in a Facebook tool that made it possible to gather information about a Facebook user by entering their phone number.
“We are cooperating fully with the IDPC in its enquiry, which relates to features that make it easier for people to find and connect with friends on our services. These features are common to many apps and we look forward to explaining them and the protections we have put in place,” the spokesperson said.
Facebook also said it does not plan to notify the hundreds of millions affected by the data breach because it’s not confident that it has full knowledge of which users are affected, and because users can’t take steps to fix the issue given that the data has already been published online.
The DPC investigation comes on the heels of pressure from the European Commission. Justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Monday that he had met with the DPC head Helen Dixon regarding the Facebook leak.
The EU investigation will probe whether Facebook had a legal obligation to notify users and European regulators when it found and fixed the vulnerability. The EU’s data privacy rules, known as GDPR, require such disclosures – but the GDPR only applies to data processed after 2018, and it’s not yet clear if the leaked Facebook data was scraped before the GDPR went into effect.
The DPC said that it has already started questioning Facebook about the data leak and that Facebook has “furnished a number of responses.”
More records are stored online than ever – and it’s becoming increasingly common for large swaths of personal data to fall into the hands of cybercriminals.
Over 4 billion records have been stolen or accidentally leaked in the past decade, according to data collected by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, with more than 7,000 separate breaches in that time, and the frequency of mega-breaches that compromise tens or hundreds of millions of people’s data is on the rise.
Most recently, a hacker published the personal data of 533 million Facebook users online for free, Insider reported Saturday, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, account IDs, and bios.
Here’s how to determine whether your data has been exposed in a breach and how to protect yourself.
Check whether your information was exposed using free online tools
Companies are legally required to notify users when their data is breached, but those disclosures are often made through vague public statements, and individual consumers can be left in the dark. Thankfully, security researchers keep exhaustive records of past data points that you can use to check whether you were affected by a breach.
One such resource is HaveIBeenPwned.com, a database maintained by security analyst Troy Hunt. The site lets anyone enter their email address and cross-references it with more than 10 billion accounts compromised in past breaches to determine whether they’ve been “pwned,” or compromised.
In some cases, passwords are also exposed in data breaches. Hunt’s site also provides a password search that lets people know if their password has ever fallen into the hands of hackers.
If you were affected by a breach, take steps to secure your accounts
If you find out your personal information was stolen in a breach, it’s time to protect your identity. Doing so depends on the severity of the data stolen – if your social security number or drivers’ license number were stolen, you’ll need to file a report with the appropriate government agency.
But in most cases, data breaches include less sensitive information like emails and usernames. If your email address was exposed, you should change your password to that email account and set up multifactor authentication to secure your email.
If you find out your password itself was exposed, you can no longer count on that password to keep your accounts safe, and should immediately change your passwords on all affected accounts. Setting up multifactor authentication is also a best practice.
Finally, stay alert for any suspicious activity on any of your accounts. If you do detect suspicious activity, change your password and contact that account’s administrator.
Snap reportedly researched ways to skirt Apple’s new privacy rules that will ban apps from tracking people without their permission, The Financial Times reported Friday.
The company explored methods of tracking people’s behavior through third parties and cross-referencing that information with its own user database to keep tabs on users, according to the report, which cited internal documents and unnamed sources familiar with the situation.
The report comes as Apple is preparing to roll out new privacy policies that will ask people if they want to let their apps track them and block apps from doing so if they opt out.
Snap did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. In a statement to FT, Snap confirmed that it explored methods of tracking users’ behavior using third party services, but said that it would discontinue the system once Apple’s new privacy changes go into effect.
“We support and will follow Apple’s upcoming guidelines because we have always believed that advertising should respect consumers’ privacy,” Snap told the outlet.
Snap isn’t the only company to have explored skirting Apple’s new privacy rules. ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok, reportedly tested Chinese state-backed tools that would make it possible to keep tracking users in China even after Apple’s new standards go into effect.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Data has long been a buzzy word in advertising, but it’s never been as critical as it is today.
Google and Apple’s plans to phase out mainstay ad-targeting tools are forcing advertisers to evolve their ad targeting, while the consumer shift to digital streaming and e-commerce are changing the way marketers collect and use people’s data.
Insider is looking for the advertising and marketing executives who are at the forefront of helping their companies navigate these changes, whether it’s pioneering a new way of contextually targeting or building a new first-party database.
This list will be based on nominations and our own reporting. The execs can come from marketers and agencies, but should be in the weeds of tackling data and privacy, not necessarily at the C-Suite level.
Submit your nomination through this form by 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 31.
When you turn off location services on your iPhone, you’re disabling them across your device. This can be great to stop location tracking and preserve battery life. But it will cause some difficulties with apps like Find My or Maps.
You also have less extreme and more tailored options, such as turning off location services only for certain apps, or making sure specific people can’t track your location.
Here’s how to adjust all the location tracking services on your iPhone.
Facebook stock climbed 4.1% on Friday after CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed his tune on Apple’s imminent privacy update.
The social media company had been fighting with Apple over the changes for months, but Zuckerberg reversed course this week and said he actually thinks the new policies will help the social media giant. Shares rose following the comments, closing at $290.11 on Friday.
“I think the reality is that I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation, Zuckerberg said in a discussion Thursday on Clubhouse. “And we’ll be in a good position. I think it’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position.”
The Apple iOS 14 software update will require app developers including Facebook to request permission from users before tracking them through Apple’s Identified for Advertisers (IDFA).
“Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to basically use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” Zuckerberg said during the Clubhouse talk.
Facebook has been pushing back against the Apple iOS update since August. The company said in a blog post that the changes will impact its Audience Network by limiting its ability to deliver targeted advertising, which will slash its revenue on iOS up to 50%.
“This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately Apple’s updates to iOS 14 have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future,” the blog post said in August.
During the Clubhouse discussion, Zuckerberg said that these changes will affect small businesses and developers. “I just think it’s one of the reasons why Facebook has been a bit outspoken on this is, there are certain principles that we care about and empowering individuals is one of them,” he added.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has struck a very different tone on Apple’s imminent privacy changes – which will force the company to ask users’ permission before giving their data to advertisers – claiming they could leave it in a “stronger position.”
After months of the social media company fighting Apple over the changes, Zuckerberg told a discussion on Clubhouse on Thursday, “I think the reality is that I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation. And we’ll be in a good position. I think it’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position.”
Speaking on Clubhouse, Zuckerberg said he now believed the changes could strengthen Facebook by encouraging sellers to go directly via Facebook’s commerce products, as targeted advertising on the platform was rendered less effective.
“Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to basically use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” he said.
“But the thing that I’ve been mostly focused on is that a lot of these changes are going to make it harder for small businesses and developers. And I think the situation is going to be challenging for them to navigate.”
He added, “I just think it’s one of the reasons why Facebook has been a bit outspoken on this is, there are certain principles that we care about and empowering individuals is one of them.”
Facebook has consistently claimed the changes will hurt small business, in December going so far as to take out full-page newspaper ads saying, “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”