Friday Buzz: Why Superfish is So Scary

The adware installed on a number of recent Lenovo laptops deeply compromises online security. Learn how to get rid of it. Also: Why member personas might help your marketing efforts.

Own a Lenovo laptop? Be sure to read this.

This week, the Chinese computer maker was nicked by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for including a complex piece of adware in its laptops that has been called a “security catastrophe.”

The software, Superfish, monitors online shopping and shows a user similar products. The problem is that the design allows others on the same network to make the same work-arounds used to post ads to access encrypted information and perform man-in-the-middle attacks.

Any hacker can easily steal your information if your computer is loaded with Superfish, the advocacy group explains.

“If you access your webmail from such a laptop, any network attacker can read your mail as well or steal your password,” EFF writes on its DeepLinks blog. “If you log into your online banking account, any network attacker can pilfer your credentials. All an attacker needs in order to perform these attacks is a copy of the Superfish MITM private key. There is (apparently) a copy of that key inside every Superfish install on every affected Lenovo laptop, which has now been extracted and posted online.”

On Thursday, Lenovo emphasized that its goal was not to create security issues for its users, and that it no longer includes the Superfish software on its computers.

“We apologize for causing any concern to any users for any reason—and we are always trying to learn from experience and improve what we do and how we do it. Superfish technology does not profile nor monitor user behavior,” the company stated in a news release. (Wired finds the company’s response lacking and says it’s “clueless about the problem.”)

The good news is that the software can be removed relatively easily. You can check to see if your Lenovo computer includes this program by testing it on this site.

Create Your Ideal Member

Making up a person is kind of a weird way to spend a day at work, admittedly. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

In fact, MemberClicks’ Callie Walker says that there might be a lot you can learn from creating a persona of the kind of member you’re hoping to reach.

“Creating personas for your members can actually help you to recruit and retain the right people,” she explains. “After all, if you know what your personas are trying to achieve, you can create content to help them reach their goals.”

Read on for a few ideas about how personas could benefit your association’s membership strategies. (ht @MemberClicks)

Other Links of Note

“I’ve encountered so many situations where business travelers find themselves in dire straits because of the choices they’ve made.” A new study from On Call International illuminates the risks of sleazy business travel behavior. Fast Company has the details.

Looking for a little inspiration? The Case Foundation has a list of conferences and events that nonprofits should check out.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Gmail account that’s enabled with Google Inbox, word of new iPad and Android versions of the app might excite you.

A Lenovo laptop which is affected by the Superfish adware. (Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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