Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Online Privacy

The article I read laughs about the term "Online Privacy" - calling it an oxymoron.

When you're active on a network that is known as the "world wide web", you're taking a big risk in issues of privacy.

In the article I found it mentions a bug on "TweetDeck" that allowed a user to gain access to a handful of accounts that did not belong to him. I hadn't heard about this situation when it happened, but that's what makes it even scarier - the unknown. It's often that people even realize that their information is being used, or their accounts are being hacked. On my computer settings, as a default, it saves passwords and login information - by doing that, when my friend signed onto their facebook account it saved their username and password and logged onto it every time I went to Facebook.com. I was unintentionally hacking their site. Imagine if that had happened on a public library computer, or at the hands of someone who wasn't their friend? Trouble.

I also had another privacy issue that I experienced with Facebook a while back. Someone was hacking into profiles and messaging friends asking for their log-in information, e-mails, etc. As a friend, many people were giving this information up - and their accounts were then being hacked and used to message friends into the same scam. I had to change my password and information several times!

With social media these days, people of all ages are giving up information that we don't even realize can harm us. Addresses, e-mails, birthdays, workplace, phone numbers, interests - someone could easily pretend to be me with the information I have posted.

We run into a lot of scams with Craigslist.org - I've been looking for houses to rent over the last few weeks, and contacted a post via e-mail. When I got a response the person sent me a long story about being out of town on business, they had just bought property up north, and if I would provide them with information (Name, Address, Current Rent, Birthday, etc) they would get in touch with me with instructions on how to look at the house. They made it clear that I should NOT contact the number on the sign at the house, it was the old realtor and they no longer wanted to do business through them. Sounds sketchy. I didn't respond, and they quickly were flagged for removal on Craigslist. Turns out they Google mapped the house that's for sale and posted a picture from the "live street view" on Google. They also used pictures from the realtor's site to show interested tenants the interior of the home. It was as simply as Googling an address for these people to scam renters into giving up information.

I don't blame the internet, nor do I want more "privacy". I enjoy the never ending amounts of information, and the listless things to do and learn. I blame it's users for being ignorant about what they share. You should think about what you're doing, and know the extent of it and it's consequences. Just like the real world, there are bad people on the internet. It's like a stranger pulling up and offering candy to a kid - don't be so quick to jump in the van.