Archive for the ‘Ask.com’ Category

Final Post

October 2, 2009

No – I’m not dead yet!!

This is a final post at Tigerstail.wordpress.com because I am tired of seeking knowledge and bitching about that which is. It is time to use my skills to develope the solutions to all of the problems I have discovered.

Join Me at jimmicap.wordpress.com

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Screw Google or Scroogle

January 1, 2008

It’s kind of hard to ignore the best search engine in the world and there are two serious contenders for allowing this option. First, is Ask.com which for the time being is committed to not keeping your individual search records. Keep in mind this is a publicly traded company which would not want to piss off Uncle Sam so there are economic limits to how much they will invest to defended your right to privacy. With Google-ites making asses of themselves relative to site filtering and screwing over the people in China, it doesn’t take much of a corporate investment to look a little better and that’s what Ask.com has done. Still, there is the issue of search quality.

When you put yesterdays title (Bin Laden, Google and the CIA) in Ask or Google nothing is returned. When you put “Is Google Spying?” in the two search engines, The Tigerstail post is number 2 in Google and does not appear in Ask.com. It would appear that Ask has to do a little better job of crawling the Web and creating a database if they are going to compete with Google.

Scroogle.org sounds almost too good to be true. They run a proxy service that deletes all Google cookies and logs. They do the search for you at Google, strip all identifying features and return the answer. The are a non profit organization and have extremely limited onsite information about them or their creators. Of course they return the same results as Google but this does not always have to be the case. Google could spend a lot of time and money to screw Scroogle.org but for now they seem to get you the best anonymous results possible. Since I trust nothing and do a lot of rechecking of information, I doubt that I’ll be the one they fail when Google screws them. BUT, you never know who that one will be.

For now, Scroogle seems to give the same search as Google without the advertising and that might be their downfall.

Is Google Spying?

December 30, 2007

Seventy seven percent (77%) of Google Users are not aware that Gogle is spying on them and neither was I.

I tried researching the topic but didn’t find much information. I knew that Google used email filters and linked advertising to the content so that when Cousin Ed told you that Auntie Mame died, your email might include an advertisment for coffins and flowers. While that may be cool technology, I avoided it by avoiding a Gmail account.

Even after I read accounts that I would be 92 when my Google cookie expired and their new privacy policy would delete all records after 2 years unless requested to retain them longer by law enforcement, I wasn’t terribly concerned. I mean I have seen the use of Google Cookies which contain my IP, Hotmail account, my surfing habits to other sites and all my porn cookies so fore warned is fore armed and defend yourself. After all these are browser side records and can be erased and wiped when you close your Browser (with quite a bit of effort).

All this changed when I had the need to sign up for an email account under my own name instead of Mr. Daimon, fatsavage or other ficticious names. I cleverly opted out of email advertising so I could avoid coffin offers when my mother dies and did a minimal sign-up with minimal information even avoiding address and location. I didn’t think much about it and only used it for commercial activity under my own name. I only signed up with GoogleTalk to track my email because that’s faster than signing in on their web page and going to their rather slow site only to find you have no mail.

Last week I had the need to sign up as a Google Developer so I paid more attention to their site. Seems there is a button in the upper right that allows you to sign in to Google and that happens rather automatically when you sign in to GoogleTalk or at least it did for me. It showed I have an account and a history which I know I never signed up for.

The history has been keeping track of me more or less since the day I signed in for my Gmail account. It is the default option which you have to work to turn off. Naturally, I checked my history and was appalled. I’m doing a Sans Security Course and am looking up various penetration tools. I am also blogging about some pretty nasty sites. Of the hundreds of searchs I do a day, my Google history only registered the ones which make me out to be a pervert or a security risk.

Of course, I deleted the records but all that means is that I will no longer see them. They already have my IP, my email account, cookies from all accounts, the record of cookies from sites visited etc. I really didn’t accomplish anything by turning off their blatent record keeping. They still have all the rest and have publically stated they will keep it for two years.

It would appear my only real option is to stop using their services. To many that would be a tough choice, but if they have already blocked access to your site and Ask.com is doing a pretty good job of searching and you have no commercial revenues from the web, I can’t think of a serious downside.

Ask for Privacy????

December 29, 2007

Ask.com recently announced a new privacy policy called AskEraser. All of your search terms and session cookies are erased after a few hours and there is no record of your activity with a few exceptions. The most obvious is if there’s a court order to keep your records,they will.

The other exception should be equally obvious, when you click a link to another page, that site is beyond the control of Ask.com so all of the cookies, malware and cache images of pictures which come from that site are maintained in index.dat files on your machine.

I took a short tour to see if the search engine was so filtered that it wouldn’t direct you to tasteless sites and found out that search terms like porn, young models, young pussy and teen sex took you to some fairly tasteless sites which of course set cookies and loaded images on your machine. I even found some evidence that there was less site filtering than Google. I then checked the cache pages from the nasty sites and found that the images and scrips were being fed from the page on the original site that was in the ask.com collection of cache pages so in fact the original site was documenting your visit.

In other words, the worlds of corporate and government spying are so large that it’s difficult to do truly trackless searching of surfing. Still it’s nice to know that Ask.com has taken a step in the right direction in at least recognizing my rights to privacy and freedom of information.