Privacy has become a red-hot issue in 2011. As more privacy organizations, advocates and researchers discover and disclose to the general public what social networks, governments, corporations, data miners/aggregators, advertisers and law enforcement collect; public awareness of the impact of our digital footprints and invasive online tracking tactics become exposed.
Facebook has been highly controversial in the realm of data-collection practices and is a master of stealth digital surveillance…
Social networking giant, Facebook has been highly controversial in the realm of data-collection practices and is a master of stealth digital surveillance:
“Facebook has perfected a stealth digital surveillance apparatus that tracks, analyzes and then acts on your information, including what you tell your friends,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “Facebook users should be cautious about whether the social networking giant ultimately has their best interests at heart.” –Los Angeles Times
With the rise of online hactivism, hacker groups such as Lulzsec’s 50-day rampage against corporations, law enforcement and security companies affected individual lives when they targeted the CIA and dumped a list of 62,000+ email addresses and passwords.
Firesheep would let non-technical people become “hackers” giving them access to the log-in credentials of the victim…
Many of you may remember Firesheep (October 2010), the Firefox plug-in that let hackers eavesdrop and steal unencrypted cookies from anyone who used unsafe Wi-Fi connections (such as airport and coffee houses). Firesheep would let non-technical people become “hackers” giving them access to the log-in credentials of the victim with a simple double click in the Firesheep sidebar. It would then hijack the web session by copying session cookies and use these cookies to impersonate the victim. Last month Sophos reported that security researchers created their own version of the notorious Firesheep plug-in that had the ability to expose data leakage in Google search history.
The ten biggest threats to privacy in 2011 paint a picture of a landscape that is littered with the potential for warrantless tracking, pervasive monitoring, mobile stalking, behavioral advertising and data harvesting. The repercussions of sharing too much personal information on Social networks has led to a deluge of private data flooding the public domain; where sites such as Facebook consistently alter privacy settings to share more. The latest Facebook platform change to create a deeper sense of connection is secondary – Bottom line: advertising is primary and Facebook gets its income from ads.
Bottom line: Advertising is primary and Facebook gets its income from ads.
“Data is the new oil…everybody benefits from your data except you, the end user. It’s as if everyone’s genes were harvested by a small number of companies without any payment to those whose genes they are.” –Michael Fertik, chief executive of Reputation.com
Top 10 Internet Privacy Threats:
10-GEO Tags: When photos or videos are taken with a GPS-equipped device (digital camera, laptop, smartphone) they are embedded with a geotag that reveals the exact location in longitude and latitude of where it was taken. The exposure of geo-locational data on social networking sites could enable the risk of social surveillance and stalking.
9- Google Wi-Fi Sniffing: According to news sources, Skyhook Wireless has been wardriving a fleet of trucks through towns and cities in the U.S., Canada, (covering 70 percent of population centers) and metropolitan centers in Europe and Asia and mapping every wireless router, both public and private. Skyhook identified each router by its MAC address and correlated it with the exact location of each router, using GPS. The router information currently exists in a database of 250 million Wi-Fi access points. That’s pretty scary because most people have no idea that this has happened.
8-Facial Recognition Technology: Initial use of this technology was used by law enforcement, security and surveillance but is now in the public realm with apps like SocialCamera and SceneTap.
Facebook deployed Facial-recognition software this summer, allowing people to opt out of tagging but did not stop Facebook from gathering data or having the ability to recognize your face. Eventually this technology is meant to search for people by simply using a picture.
With facial recognition software that can discern users’ true identities–not just the personae they choose to create online–Facebook becomes a much more powerful identification tool. –Rebecca Greenfield, Atlantic Wire
7-Internet Censorship: Some countries that have extremely strong censorship policies are: China, Iran and Myanmar. China has has an advanced filtering system (the Great Firewall of China) and can restrict access in real time. Over 10 million web pages are blocked in Iran and web sites that offer tools and techniques for circumventing filters are also heavily filtered. The Myanmar government allegedly monitors Internet cafes with computers that take screenshots every few minutes.
6-Smartphones: The government’s ability to track individuals using Smartphone’s and mobile malware top the list. Researchers at Trusteer recently discovered a new attack by the SpyEye Trojan that targets online banking security systems.
The malware compromises the login information to the victim’s bank account and injects a phony page into the smartphone browser. The malware then instructs the victim to type the original confirmation code into the fake web page form. The hacker is able to capture the code (man in the browser injection) and login to the victim’s bank account. Once the hacker is in, they change the telephone number associated with the account and divert the funds.
5-Data-Stealing: Rogue applications on social networking sites, computers that harbor botnets (Coreflood) and smartphone malware (DroidDream) are just a few of the nasties that are out there.
4-Behavioral advertising: HTTP cookies, flash cookies, sites that respawn HTTP cookies with Flash (KISSmetrics), and HTML5 Local storage (more flexible than standard HTTP cookies) are just a few of the methods that are used for tracking online users.
During the course of a typical day – if you use your computer, your smartphone, your TV and shop at your local stores using a loyalty card – targeted advertising will trail behind you. When you sit down to watch TV, your TV is watching you. Visiting Facebook, searching on Google or Bing also adds to the fleshing out of your behavioral profile that consists of your searches, online habits, preferences and buying patterns.
3-Hackers: – Organized cybercriminals, hacktivists, Anonymous and Lulzsec are a few of the online entities that participate in DDoS attacks, data breaches, phishing, online banking fraud, online shopping fraud and a host of other unsavory activities. Weak security systems are generally the culprit.
2-Social networks: Social networks allow users to build connections and store information remotely. It is also the weakest data link. When people become dependent on social networking default privacy settings (Facebook’s frictionless sharing) and post too much personal information online, it becomes ripe for picking. Identity thieves, scammers, hackers, debt collectors, corporations, marketers, data miners and governments use social networks to gather information. Your data is the harvest.
Things that you share online could go further than your social circle. Always think before you post!
1-You! – The weakest link in the privacy chain could be YOU! Everything that you do online leaves a digital footprint from search engine tastes to browsing patterns and social interactions. Things that you share online could go further than your social circle. Always think before you post!