Web Privacy, Who Is Really Protected
The question as to how much information should be shared with the public and what information should be made private in the web has always raised a controversy. Sometimes there is need for one to use a password for the information and pages one wants to share with a few people. This is more so if one is using the web on a continuous basis or is always online. Sometimes the kind of details given which one leaves on the web may be of benefit or harm s a person.
When a person goes ahead and posts the full names, addresses, phone numbers and photos, this could be detrimental when just left on the web unprotected. Personal and private web sites can actually provide a way through which a child sexual predators can gain access to your kids, not necessarily physical access, but could can also get access through which to communicate to a minor then further on persuade the child to meet or talk via the phone with an intent to cause harm. Some websites encourage people to post their photos which are then displayed on their profiles. This may be seen as innocent to the individual but could actually invite another person to cause harm. Further, personal information displayed on such websites may be available to the public, make such persons easy to locate.
First, it is imperative to look at the web versus the exposure it presents to kids. Kids are at the highest danger of being lured into traps since they are normally innocent. It is therefore imperative that parents apply various rules so as to regulate what the children do so as to ensure their safety. First, the parents themselves should be responsible in the sense that all information that is deemed indecent or that information that should be treated with discretion should not be posted on the website. After all, why post such information that you would not feel comfortable posting on the bulletin board of a supermarket or a school? Further, parents in high doubt as to the influence the internet is having on their children can fix a hidden remote monitor be it in the kitchen or living room so as to monitor the sites their children are accessing.
Though many may feel this as too intrusive on your child, it might serve as the saviour to your child if lured by a predator on the web. Moreover, the cost of installing such equipment is negligible as compared to the resultant benefits it may have. In addition, this is just like regulating the television shows, books or movies your child has access to, therefore opponents to such monitoring should view it as so. Secondly, contrary to the thinking of most people, most adults are exposed to the danger of being defrauded via the web. The existing increase in presenting and housing your private information in many diverse locations pilots to more potential for your individual information to be mismanaged or misappropriated.
In spite of what a business says, the reality is that there is minimal vested significance in shielding your own personal information and therefore the individual can rest assured that all of the workers within that corporation surely could care less. On the other hand, if the media discovers such indiscretion, there really is no inspiration for a corporation to really shield your information. Moreover, there no fines charged against firms for publicising a client’s or an applicant’s private information in case of a scandal. The client has no alternative, and mostly a firm may not even recognize the fact that their staff deeply hurt such parties by releasing such private information. Therefore, if trust is not instilled in a certain company, is it possible to offer the private information to multiple companies which define their company policies as confidential yet they off similar or even higher chances of the risk that an individual’s private information may be accessed unknowingly with the potential to cause harm.
It is therefore clear that the more clients offer their information be it your visa card number, location and any other private information, the higher the amplification of the risk and the potential for harm which cannot only be attributed to the firm alone but also to hackers. Hackers can be defined as individuals with expert knowledge of computer technology such as operating systems and various application packages, who endeavour to gain illegal access to data shielded from them. Such cases are not uncommon and may result in such persons gaining personal information which if they have a malicious intent, would be used to cause harm to others. Most people view such cases as rare and that they are exempt from such attacks, but a cursory view at the a case in Britain whereby the personal data of more than 25 million citizens, which represents half of the population, was lost. This people had applied for a child benefit, a tax-free payment made every month for all citizens with children. This is two-edged: First, not only does the personal information regarding this citizens in danger of being used inappropriately but secondly, the government loses money in the consequent investigation and in mitigating the threat posed by such information (Doctorow, 2008).
Controversy has always ranged as to what extent any firm should convey a client’s private information to the public. Opponents to such releases have often depicted this as illegal and feel that the government should not only institute laws such that personal information should be kept as so but also put in place fines against such offenders. Such has been the case at Deutsche Telekom in Frankfurt, Germany. There was a raging debate as to whether it was legal in that the company, through an internal investigation, admitted to having secretly tracked thousands of personal phone calls in an attempt to discover the source of the leaks to the media about its internal state of affairs. This echoes a similar case at Hewlett- Packard, who have been accused of spying on their clients (Landler, 2008).
Such firms may feel that since they have an easy means at accessing vital information of offenders, they should use it to their advantage. However, should such firms or the government use people’s private data for their ends just because they have access? This scares the wits out of customers, especially in the mobile phone telecommunications industry since the caller feels that they are being watched and monitored. These service providers should be discrete and responsible rather than divulge client information to the public. The telecommunication industry is not the only controversial sector. A look at online job applications poses a similar threat.
When clients apply for jobs online, they are mostly asked to furnish such companies with a detailed resume which includes such vital information as address, personal data and possibly, after successful application, bank details. Such information is treated as confidential though the applicant has no control whatsoever on how to remain anonymous and to protect one from any resultant risks. Therefore, such responsibility lies with corporate giants. Further, posting articles on the web may seem as harmless. For instance, posting an article on Wiki needs such persons to furnish Information verifying their expertise in the related field so as to develop a criterion of which information to trust on-demand. This is not only in the best interests of the firm to prevent posting of irrelevant information but also to the public such that they can access the desired information.
However, where does that leave the blogger or the individual who posts such information? Are they entirely secured? Recently, information posted on WikiLeaks has been generating a lot of controversy. If individuals have the capacity to intercept government to government information, it leaves a lot of doubts about the utter protection of any private information of individuals who have no control whatsoever on how it is used.Sharing personal information with another individual online is seen as fun and has been used time and again to achieve good endings such as facilitating marriages, conducting businesses or even founding firm friendships. However, some social or information exchange sites lure people into their use by offering very attractive offers such as free calls which might be a trap to get persons registered. This however does not imply that all websites that offer such services compromise their clients. Nonetheless, once information is edited, changed or uploaded, the sender has little control as to its security.
An analysis conducted by consumer reports shows that a staggering 52% of users have posted such private information as their place of residence and date of birth on social sites such as Facebook (Taylor-Gaines, 2010). A glitch that occurred at Blipy, a social-networking site that resulted in the exposure of the customer’s credit card numbers should serve to warn such individuals. Further, a data breach at yet another social networking site, Rockyou.com, in December 2009 should serve to keep persons registered in such sites wary (Elena, 2010). This served to expose millions of the sites registered person’s email addresses and their passwords.
The responsible hacker went ahead and posted the entire list of this information on the internet. This served to illustrate that people should use longer, more complicated passwords rather than coupling short, straightforward passwords with identical log-in credentials. In so doing, their security will be much more enhanced.Finally, the dangers posed by online shopping cannot be ignored. Online shopping has not only brought about convenience, but it also saves time and possibly, finances.
Goods can be delivered to the doorstep without having to visit the selling company. However, this has resulted in an increase in online shopping scams. ISACA, a non-profit international IT governance association, has linked this to social sites. 42% of users access their shopping sites from their work place computer or mobile phones. These same devices are used to access social network sites. Such users have placed their entire trusty on such sites to be completely secure.
However, the question as to how secure remains to be proven. In August, 2010, Westifield Bondi Junction published information to its customers detailing them that their personal details had been exposed owing to hackers. This information involved personal names and email addresses of various subscribers and owners of various shopping centres who aid in conducting business. Further, IP addresses and domain information which had been collected were exposed. Such cases are however not covered by the Australian law and there has been an increasing clamour by the Australian Law Reform Commission to introduce such (Goodchild, 2010).Users of such sites can nonetheless protect themselves through various measures.
First, when deciding which online company to shop from, ensure their business contact numbers, physical address and emailing addresses is not only posted but available. Secondly, ensure that there is a confirmed retail outlet or seller of the desired item. Thirdly, such sites entail a trust emblem that the site is safe and secure to use. It is also essential to make sure their sum transactions are encrypted so it is necessary to check for SSL certificates. This applies a cryptographic structure that uses two keys to encrypt information.
Websites that apply encryption in their web browsers normally contain a key or closed lock. Also, the user ought to check to make out if the payment site address starts with ‘https://’. This is the standard notation of a secure server (Khoo, 2010).Other additional methods to ensure personal security are easy to implement. First, a simple search on a search engine displays a lot of information about the subject matter. This is sufficient evidence that an individual must avoid filling any forms that require personal information that could otherwise be linked to you.
Further, avoid using all search engines that hold tabs that have been visited on that computer but rather use an independent search engine such as Google. Secondly, hackers and even the Internet Service Providers track the websites one has been to. Therefore, it is vital to delete all history after accessing such sites. In addition, clean the temporal cache files which hold any information on sites that you have recently browsed.
Thirdly, cookies easily track recent website visits. These tiny software cannot be disabled each and every time since they are vital. However, they should be cleaned out at times to ensure safety. Finally, multiple sites offer free downloads for important software. All they ask for is your private information and possibly a free account in which you may be required to supply your banking details in case the individual may aspire to upgrade it to a premium site. However, the question as to how free are these software is vital in establishing whether such sites are really genuine.
Finally, avoid sending any personal and financial information all the way through email, including your societal security number. When conducting any affairs online, it is therefore imperative to use a secure connection to deter any resultant malice. This responsibility should not only be placed solely on the users’ end. Corporate giants need to go a step further in ensuring that data received from their clients is secure and free from attack by hackers, else, this crimes will not abate in the near future.