An acquaintance from a younger generation said to me one day, “Don’t you know that privacy is dead?” I was taken aback at his frank assessment, but I replied “Privacy is not dead, but it is under attack, much like many of our other values.  It is like virginity.  Once given away, it cannot be given back, and that is all the more reason to protect it.” Many give their privacy away for daily trifles.  Mail in rebates, product registrations, text coupons, credit requests, SMS updates, and store discount cards…

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The repeal of the FCC Internet privacy rules has spurred on many discussions on privacy online and how companies collect and use that information.  I have fielded many questions on what this means for consumers and their privacy when going online, using search engines, and social media.  Some have wondered how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) differ from search engines and social media in how they collect consumer data. The difference between how ISPs and social networks or search providers collect and use data comes down to the how easy it…

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Anonymity has been a longstanding hallmark of the Internet but you should no longer assume that your online activities are anonymous. A vast amount of information is collected as you use the Internet. Search engines store the keywords you search for and the pages you visit, browsers store web history, which may be integrated with the cloud, and websites store information your activities on their sites. Your IP address provides information on your general location and many applications can track your location data, obtained from your address or from GPS.…

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Microsoft officially launched its successor to Windows 8.1, Windows 10, on July 29, 2015, and millions have already downloaded this free upgrade or utilized Microsoft’s queued digital delivery system. Windows 10 offers users many new features including a new browser and integrated Cortana search which essentially means that your operating system is integrated with the cloud. However, don’t let all these features and launch celebrations distract you from its security, which is somewhat in the fine print. Windows 10 Privacy Concerns By default, Windows 10 collects information from your microphone,…

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In childhood I dreamed of a world quite grand Where my name and face were far from mystery A life far removed from one boring and bland Popular, famous, in fact, pure fantasy How could I know that my dream would become real My name and identity are known far and wide Governments, stores, and thieves don’t need to steal I’ve given it freely, when asked, I provide Now everything is different, complex, distorted Reportedly the data on me is vast All that I do is electronically recorded Much of…

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Here is a fact that many of us would like to forget.  Most data theft occurs by insiders.  This is often termed the insider threat or the human threat.  Insiders are the people who would usually be considered very trustworthy.  However, all it takes is some incident or life change to occur that can motivate someone to commit a crime. Insider threat statistics An evaluation of cases of insider theft has provided statistics useful in identifying the types of employees who are most likely to threaten information security.  Surprisingly, it’s not…

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Every once in a while, a website will try to convince you to change your security settings.  I was looking for blinds the other day, and I found a web site that had a great deal.  When I tried to customize the blinds, I was presented with this webpage informing me that I needed to modify my cookie settings for first and third-party cookies for the site to work. I tried the site in a few browsers, and this page came up each time I tried to modify my selection.…

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For more than a decade, computer-generated digital certificates have made it possible to authenticate the identity of computer systems, data, and websites by connecting a public key with an identity such as an owner’s name.  The process relies on trust.  “Secure” websites utilize such a certificate to validate their identity.  This digital certificate is usually procured from a company that will verify the identity of the company administrating the site.  The digital certificate issued to them will be validated by a trusted root certificate authority or by a server that…

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Companies collect millions of gigabytes of information, all of which has to be stored, maintained, and secured. There is a general fear of removing data lest it be needed some day but this practice is quickly becoming a problem that creates privacy and compliance risk. Some call it "data hoarding" and I am here to help you clean your closet of unnecessary bits and bytes. The news is full of examples of companies losing data. These companies incur significant cost to shore up their information security and their reputations. In…

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An editorial in eWeek covered the congressional hearings regarding a new tool developed by the FBI called the “Carnivore surveillance system.”  The Carnivore system was developed to fight cyber crimes such as terrorism, fraud, and child pornography by obtaining the e-mail messages of suspects.  The system, when attached to a segment of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), will proceed to filter through every message passing through that segment to find messages addressed to or sent from the suspect.  Thousands of private e-mail messages will be examined by the system to…

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