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Yahoo Accounts Are Easy to Hijack

There have been some high profile hacks of Sarah Palin and Grady Sizemore and the best defense is to not use real information when answering challenge questions.

Just make a Privacy Alias and use it for places that want your personal information, but don't really need it. Of course, if you use an encrypted file to store passwords, you don't have to make an alias at all. You can just store completely new made up challenge answers for each site.

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Yahoo! Makes Nasty Privacy Change

Apparently Yahoo! is set to publicize everything you do online to all your friends. If you're not excited about this thrilling change, you can opt out with a single button click (so they say), but it doesn't say where or how.

I logged in with an old account and here's what you're looking for:

Once you click that, here's what you'll see:

It will nag you to keep the setting or you won't be able to share everything you do... boo hoo. Click it and party.

Click the checkbox and you should be good until the next major settings change they hope you don't notice.

Note that I clicked around a bit and eventually I did get a screen that warned me about the change and let me opt out. Even if you see that screen, it's not a bad idea to follow the directions I listed above just in case. Anyway, here's what the alert looked like:

Make sure to uncheck each box here the click "Get Started"

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City in Montana Demands Your Login Details to be Hired

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

This is so wrong, I barely know what to say. I sure hope this trend doesn't start to catch on, because a lot of people would give up the information when they're pressured instead of doing the right thing and refusing.

"Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc." the form reads. But Bozeman isn't simply interested in finding out where to look for potentially embarrassing personal details; the city wants full disclosure, since the form demands username and password information for each.

This is way worse than all those sickening social networking sites asking for your e-mail address password.


Here is the contact information for the relevant people in the city if you want to ask them why they thought this would be a good idea. And just in case someone were to change the form, here's a copy of the original found on their website:
This is for real... they actually expect you to give up your account details!
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One More Reason To Be Against Digital Rights Management (DRM)

With DRM, what they give, they can take away
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

From Ars Technica:

Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good—and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008. Once the Yahoo store goes down and the key servers go offline, existing tracks cannot be authorized to play on new computers. Instead, Yahoo recommends the old, lame, and lossy workaround of burning the files to CD, then reripping them onto the computer. Sure, you'll lose a bunch of blank CDs, sound quality, and all the metadata, but that's a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to listen to that music you lawfully acquired. Good thing you didn't download it illegally or just buy it on CD!
Here's a brilliant spoof of the Yahoo announcement that was sent to subscribers that I found at Digg.com:

Dear Consumer

We would like to thank you for being a customer of the DRM Clothing Store. Unfortunately, DRM'd clothing has not been as successful as we hoped, and we will be discontinuing service effective as of noon today. At the time that we suspend operation, all the DRM'd clothing that you have purchased will spontaneously cease to exist. We appreciate that this may be inconvenient to many of you, particularly to those of you who are currently wearing our DRM'd clothing at, say, a business meeting, a funeral or a formal dinner.

The DRM features in our clothing primarily affect the seams and stitching. If you use a sharp knife to separate your DRM'd clothing into separate fabric pieces, and then re-sew the clothing using your own needle and thread, the clothing will continue to function much as it did before. However, you must do so before noon today.

We regret the inconvenience caused to our loyal customers and thank you for your custom. We trust you will look back on your time as a customer of the DRM Clothing Store as an exciting adventure in digital living. And to those of you who don't receive this message in time, and find yourselves standing stark naked in a crowded subway car, trying to protect your modesty with an empty Starbucks cup and a day-old copy of the "New York Post", we'd just like to say "DRM Clothing – life on the digital edge!"

Yours sincerely, DRM Clothing

P.S. No refunds will be issued.

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Arguing a Yahoo! Account Suspension

I've had a Yahoo! account practically as long as I've been on the Internet. I've practically abandoned the mail because of the amount of spam it receives every day, but I still use it from time to time and it has a lot of historical and nostalgic value due to the e-mails that are still in there.

I've also used my account for the Yahoo! Answers service to help spread information about credit freezes and avoiding scams like lifelock. I'm guessing that last one is why I got a generic letter like this:


Your account has been suspended.

If you feel there has been a mistake, please contact us at answers-abuse@cc.yahoo-inc.com.

Most likely, your account was suspended in violation of Yahoo! Answers community guidelines. Click here to read the full guidelines

In the meantime, feel free to browse Yahoo! Answers

Long story short, I asked them for an explanation, and their responses were all BS of one form or another. I used to have a lot longer and more detailed description of what happened next, but rather than get into all that, I'll leave it as simple advice: when something like this happens, complaining to the Better Business Bureau and consumer protection sites like the Consumerist for publicity are good, but won't probably help. Yahoo has the right to deal with whoever they want and, at best, you can argue that as a company that so aggressively entices people to use their services, they have at least some measure of obligation to treat people fairly, but that's a stretch.

In the end, the best possible thing you can do is avoid using Yahoo! services. There are plenty of alternatives out there and I, for one, have no interest in spending time and energy on an account that can be disabled at any time for no valid reason.

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