reported.

Michael D. Shear and David E. Sanger reported from Washington, Steven Erlanger from Brussels, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow.

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Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help

“Coinbase, by going public and being subject to greater regulatory oversight, is moving more into the light where there is, or will be, greater visibility and comfort,” she said.

One of Coinbase’s most frustrating aspects, some users said, is that a real person does not appear to be reading their complaints.

“There’s nobody on the other side,” said Cheryl Hung, a marketing consultant in Los Angeles.

Ms. Hung said she and her fiancé, Paul Hwang, started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2019 and picked Coinbase because it was a “big, reputable company” with security. But in January, someone stole $26,000 of cryptocurrencies from their account. They said they did not have any idea of how that happened.

“We just lost all the money we could have been using to work on a house or move our life forward,” Mr. Hwang said.

The couple asked Coinbase for help, but they said they received perfunctory email responses. Trying Coinbase’s phone line got an automated response. After The Times inquired about their case, Ms. Hung said they got another email from the company with more information about their account.

Coinbase said real customer support agents respond to inquiries.

For most Coinbase users, legal recourse is also limited. Under the company’s terms of service, users agree to settle disputes through private arbitration or small claims court, rather than pursuing a class-action lawsuit.

That did not deter Mr. Pierre from suing. Mr. Pierre, who worked for Coinbase between 2017 and 2018, said he initially found the decentralized format of digital currencies “exciting.” But after he lost his Coinbase savings, he said he saw the value in traditional, regulated institutions like banks to fall back on “for times like this.”

“I’m less excited now,” he said.

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Five Tech Commandments to a Safer Digital Life

Tech is always changing, and so is the way we use it. That means we are always finding new ways to let our guard down for bad actors to snoop on our data.

Remember when you shared your address book with that trendy new app? Or when you posted photos on social networks? Those actions may all pose consequences that weaken security for ourselves and the people we care about.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, the chief executive of Pindrop, a security firm that develops technology to detect fraudulent phone calls, said we should always remember that any piece of our identity we post online could eventually be used by fraudsters to hijack our online accounts.

“Your digital identity, which comprises all your pictures, videos and audio, is going to fundamentally allow hackers to create a complete persona of you that looks exactly like you, without you being in the picture,” he said.

password manager, software that helps automatically generate long, complex passwords for accounts. All the passwords are stored in a vault that is accessible with one master password. My favorite tool is 1Password, which costs $36 a year, but there are also free password managers like Bitwarden.

The other option is to jot down passwords on a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place. Just make sure the passwords are long and complex, with some letters, numbers and special characters.

offer methods of two-step verification involving text messages or so-called authenticator apps that generate temporary codes. Just do a web search for the setup instructions.

If a company doesn’t offer multifactor authentication, you should probably find a different product, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.

“If a vendor says, ‘All I’m doing is passwords,’ they’re not good enough,” he said.

Many of us rely on our smartphones for our everyday cameras. But our smartphones collect lots of data about us, and camera software can automatically make a note of our location when we snap a photo. This is more often a potential safety risk than a benefit.

Let’s start with the positives. When you allow your camera to tag your location, photo-management apps like Apple’s Photos and Google Photos can automatically sort pictures into albums based on location. That’s helpful when you go on vacation and want to remember where you were when you took a snapshot.

But when you aren’t traveling, having your location tagged on photos is not great. Let’s say you just connected with someone on a dating app and texted a photo of your dog. If you had the location feature turned on when you snapped the photo, that person could analyze the data to see where you live.

aggressive collection of address books.

When signing up for Clubhouse, users could decline to share their address book. But even if they did so, others on the app who had uploaded their address books could see that those new users had joined the service. This wasn’t ideal for people trying to avoid contact with abusive exes or stalkers.

said last week that it had opened an investigation into Clubhouse.

Clubhouse updated the app this month, addressing some of the privacy concerns. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There are kinder ways than sharing your address book to find out whether your friends are using a new service — like asking them directly.

All security experts agreed on one rule of thumb: Trust no one.

When you receive an email from someone asking for your personal information, don’t click on any links and contact the sender to ask if the message is legitimate. Fraudsters can easily embed emails with malware and impersonate your bank, said Adam Kujawa, a director of the security firm Malwarebytes.

When in doubt, opt out of sharing data. Businesses and banks have experimented with fraud-detection technologies that listen to your voice to verify your identity. At some point, you may even interact with customer service representatives on video calls. The most sophisticated fraudsters could eventually use the media you post online to create a deepfake, or a computer-generated video or audio clip impersonating you, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.

While this could sound alarmist because deepfakes are not an immediate concern, a healthy dose of skepticism will help us survive the future.

“Think about all the different ways in which you’re leaving biometric identity in your online world,” he said.

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