'Blur' Protects Against Online Tracking - InformationWeek
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11/4/2014
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'Blur' Protects Against Online Tracking

New tool blocks companies from tracking you online, lets you mask sensitive information such as email, phone number, and credit card information.

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In a world of data breaches and websites that track your every move, protecting your personal information isn't easy. That's where Blur comes in. A new tool from online privacy company Abine, Blur lets you browse the Web without being tracked or forced to provide personal information in order to log in or complete transactions.

Blur's three main features include a password manager, a masking feature for sensitive information, and blocking capabilities against targeted ad networks and data collection companies. Abine CEO Rob Shavell said that the company's goals are to keep users safe using simple tools.

"We really believe that the future of protecting your privacy and security online is to stop giving so much information out in the first place," he said. "And the problem hasn't been that people are lazy and don't want to understand how some things work; it's that the software hasn't been easy enough to use. That's what we're aiming to do here."

[Popular social apps may track your every move. Read Location Tracking: 6 Social App Settings To Check.]

Blur uses a method it calls masking, which creates a new email address, phone number, or credit card to give a website for logins or purchases instead of using your real information.

If you give a site a masked email address and they send you a message, Blur will forward it to your real email address. It works the same way with phone calls: If someone calls your masked phone number, Blur will forward that call to your real phone number. In both cases you still receive those communications -- if you choose -- but without divulging your personal information.

Blur also lets you use masked credit cards -- a unique credit card number that is issued only for the amount of your purchase -- for online transactions.

"It's like making an instant gift card for an amount that's used only for that merchant," Shavell explained. Blur's servers then bill your real credit card for the amount of your purchase.

In addition to the masking technology, Blur prevents hundreds of websites, including Facebook, Google, and other data collection companies and targeted ad networks, from tracking your online browsing habits. You can also use Blur as a password manager to save your login and password details, which are encrypted and synced to all your devices.

Shavell said that Blur will remain ad-free and without conflicts of interest, relying instead on subscriptions to make money.

"People ask us, 'How can we trust you guys?' And we say you have to look at how the company makes money," Shavell said. "We don't have conflicts of interest, we don't have advertising, and have been very purposeful in setting up a business where the more privacy you want, the more money we make."

Blur offers both free and paid versions of the tool. The free version includes tracker blocking, masked emails, and the password manager feature. The paid version includes those features, plus masked credit cards and phone numbers, backup and sync options, and user support. Subscription options include $39 billed yearly; $59 for two years; or $79 for three years.

To be fully protected, you will need to download the add-on or app for every device you use. If you opt for the paid version of Blur, you'll be charged only once regardless of how many devices use it.

Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data. In the Partners' Role In Perimeter Security report, we'll discuss concrete strategies such as setting standards that third-party providers must meet to keep your business, conducting in-depth risk assessments -- and ensuring that your network has controls in place to protect data in case these defenses fail (free registration required).

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2014 | 7:52:23 AM
Re: another middle man...
I use MaskMe for quite a while. I haven't had a need for their masked cc service, but they offer that as well. As far as ease of use is concerned, can't think of any way to make it easier for concerned web users.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2014 | 7:50:40 AM
Apparently also needed for InformationWeek
This article is a classic 'own goal'. Looking at the scripts loaded on this page I see

- google-analytics

- googlesyndication

- eloqua

- googleadsverices

- ml314 (Madison Logic)

- bizographics

- en25 (Eloqua)

- deusm

- facebook (.net / .com)

- adroll

Additionally, tracking cookies from eloqua, google, ml314, techweb, twitter, and 2o7.net

Scripts also come from dl-rms which I could not find any informtion on (means it is even more suspicious).

Does IW really need to load all this crap from third parties? Are all these typically ad or user profiling tracking cookies needed? I do trust IW, but wish that if I go to informationweek.com all and every content comes solely from that source, not from a dozen other places that hide behind obscure URLs. And yes, I have most of the scripts and cookies blocked, allowing only as much as is needed to make this page function. Unfortunately, that means allowing more than I am really comfortable with. So the choice is either allow collecting info about me by entities I have no clue of who they are and what they do with that info or foregoing reading information. That said, I am not against reasonable amounts of advertising because that revenue keeps the lights on at IW, but do you really need to track everything?

 

 
Ron_Hodges
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Ron_Hodges,
User Rank: Moderator
11/5/2014 | 9:52:58 AM
They'll get hacked...
All those real credit card numbers have to be stored somewhere.  Paypal got hacked, so will these guys.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2014 | 11:56:59 PM
Re: another middle man...
I really like the idea of masked credit card numbers. This is something that credit card companies have offered for some time, but they were never really easy to use in software form like this. 

Great masking software could become really popular on the web if it is capable of being easy to use. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like the information Google and Facebook collect about them but don't really know what to do about it. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 7:40:42 PM
Re: another middle man...
@Thomas that's a good question. Would an additional fee be tacked on to the standar 2 or 3% for the sellers? 
Ariella
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50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 7:40:41 PM
Re: another middle man...
@Thomas that's a good question. Would an additional fee be tacked on to the standar 2 or 3% for the sellers? 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 4:01:42 PM
another middle man...
I'd be curious to know how the revenue flows for temporary credit card numbers...does Abine collect a fee for that?
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