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These free tools blur protesters’ faces and remove photo metadata

Millions have taken to the streets across the world to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.

Protesters have faced both unprecedented police violence and surveillance. Just this week, the Justice Department granted the Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency typically tasked with enforcing federal drug-related laws, the authority to “conduct covert surveillance” on civilians as part of the government’s efforts to quell the protests. As one of the most tech savvy government agencies, it has access to billions of domestic phone records, cell site simulators, and, like many other federal agencies, facial recognition technology.

It’s in part because of this intense surveillance that protesters fear they could face retaliation.

But in the past week, developers have rushed to build apps and tools that let protesters scrub hidden metadata from their photos, and mask or blur faces to prevent facial recognition systems from identifying protesters.

Everest Pipkin built a web app that strips images of their metadata and lets users blur faces — or mask faces completely, making it more difficult for neural networks to reverse blurring. The web app runs entirely in the browser and doesn’t upload or store any data. They also open-sourced the code, allowing anyone to download and run the app on their own offline device.

i built a tool for quickly scrubbing metadata from images and selectively blurring faces and identifiable features. it runs on a phone or computer, and doesn't send info anywhere.

process your images so that you and others are safe:https://t.co/GbQu5ZweDq pic.twitter.com/jKjABTgPRX

— everest (@everestpipkin) May 31, 2020

Pipkin is one of a few developers who have rushed to help protesters protect their privacy.

“I saw a bunch of discourse about how law enforcement is aggregating videos of the protests from social media to identify protesters,” developer Sam Loeschen told TechCrunch. He built Censr, a virtual reality app that works on the iPhone XR and later, which masks and pixelates photos in real-time.

The app also scrubs images of metadata, making it more difficult to identify the source and the location of the masked image. Loeschen said it was an “really easy weekend project.” It’s currently in beta.

📣📣 Announcing censr: a simple camera app for protecting your identity!

available for iPhone XR and up

distributing to protestors and press through TestFlight. Send me a DM for the link! pic.twitter.com/J1Znd2ZKqN

— Sam Loeschen (@polygone_) June 5, 2020

Noah Conk built an iPhone Shortcut that uses Amazon’s facial recognition system and automatically blurs any faces it detects. Conk said in a tweet there was no way to blur images on the device but that he does not save the image.

The idea is smart, but it does mean any photos uploaded could theoretically (and if stored) be obtained by law enforcement with a legal order. You also need to “allow untrusted shortcuts”, which could open the door to potentially malicious shortcuts. Know the risks before allowing untrusted shortcuts, and keep it disabled when you don’t need it.

Helping protesters and others blur and anonymize photos is an idea that’s taking off.

Just this week, end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal included its own photo blurring feature, one that couldn’t come soon enough as its user base spiked thanks to the massive adoption since the protests started.

Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike said in a blog post that the move was to help “support everyone in the streets,” including those protesting in the U.S. and around the world, in many cases defying social distancing rules by governments put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“One immediate thing seems clear: 2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face,” said Marlinspike.

Signal now has built-in face blurring for photos


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Public Computers Safety Tips: Interview with Cybersecurity Expert Ravi Bahethi

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How Windows 7’s End of Life Affects Colleges and Universities

The day has actually gotten here: As of January 14, Microsoft is no longer providing assistance or updates for Windows 7. The most recent and most updated variation of the Windows os is Windows 10 . It includes more powerful integrated security, swifter performance, more stability —– and, more most importantly, continuous and active assistance from Microsoft.

If your greater education organization hasn’’ t made the switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10, here’’ s a fast rundown on why universities ought to accept Windows 10, how one university browsed the migration and what to do if you sanctuary’’ t began the shift.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Help your group handle the much faster updates in Windows 10.

.Get Institutional Security With Windows 10.

Instead of leaving security updates as much as the user, Windows 10 updates instantly with bug repairs, security spots and basic upgrades. While some private users might feel stymied by not having control, it provides organizations, at minimum, a broad kind of defense.

The security upgrades themselves are significant: Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection provides more powerful preventative security, post-breach detection, and automated examination and action. This level of security maximizes IT groups to concentrate on requirements particular to their organizations rather of by hand examining every inbound danger. Security groups can likewise utilize Windows 10 to craft systems that fit their requirements.

Users will invite Windows 10’’ s increased compatibility with cloud computing along with increased searching security. Organizations that sanctuary’’ t yet made the shift will discover themselves susceptible to attacks and malware. Even if users are thorough about adhering to internally mandated security updates, the defenses themselves merely aren’’ t as strong as those in Windows 10.

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Microsoft Launches an Xbox Bounty Program

Microsoft has launched an Xbox Bounty Program designed to find and squash bugs in the Xbox network. And if you can find a vulnerability, whether by actively hinting for one or by stumbling across one, you can claim a reward worth up to $20,000.

Find a Bug and Earn (Potentially) Big Money

Bug bounty programs are everywhere, and can pay out big money. The bigger the vulnerability, the higher the reward, but even the minimum payouts are worthwhile. So, finding vulnerabilities in the products and services you use can earn you pocket money.

Microsoft already has a number of bounty programs actively seeking out vulnerabilities in the company’s products and services. Including the Windows operating system, Office, and Edge. And now, for the first time, Microsoft has launched an Xbox Bounty Program.

How Microsoft’s Xbox Bounty Program Works

In a post on the Microsoft Security Response Center, Microsoft explains that the program is for “gamers, security researchers, and technologists around the world to help identify security vulnerabilities in the Xbox network and services”.

We’re excited to announce the Xbox Bounty Program, which awards up to $20,000 for vulnerabilities in the Xbox network space. Find out more information: https://t.co/4Tsq17ocaH

— Security Response (@msftsecresponse) January 30, 2020

Anyone who finds a vulnerability needs to share it with the Microsoft Xbox team through “Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD).” Bugs need to be submitted using the MSRC Submission portal and follow Microsoft’s submission guidelines.

Submissions are eligible for rewards of between $500 and $20,000. Bounties will be “awarded at Microsoft’s discretion based on the severity and impact of the vulnerability and the quality of the submission.” So, be sure to follow the Microsoft Bounty T&Cs.

The highest rewards are reserved for finding proof of a remote code execution or an elevation of privilege. Other bugs included are security feature bypasses, spoofing, and tampering. Some issues, such as denial of service, are listed as “Out of Scope”.

Other Bug Bounty Programs Worth Exploring

The Xbox Bounty Program is just the latest in a long line of bounty programs. And Microsoft is just one of the many big companies involved. With that in mind, we have previously listed some awesome bug bounty programs worth exploring.

Image Credit: Constantin Wiedemann/Flickr

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