Sunday, May 15, 2011

Privacy and Your Digital Identity

If someone had access to everything you have posted all over the internet they will know who you really are - perhaps even more than many of your close friends.

Imagine me as this person. I know who your elementary, highschool, and college classmates. I know who your former and current officemates are. I know your preferences and your interest based on the websites you visit.

I know your hobbies based on the photos that you shared and the organizations and clubs that you've joined. I know your favorite hangouts based on the statuses that you posted.

I know your Social Security Number, your Bank account, and your Credit Card information – every data about you.

I could use this information for something harmless as giving them to commercial companies so they could send you offers that you will probably like because they are based on your personal data.

Or this data could get leaked to individuals who have more malicious intention.

What are the bad ways your personal data can be used against you?

1. Stalking
2. Criminal Intent (Kidnapping, Theft, Robbery, Murder, etc.)
3. Slander / Mud Slinging / Destroying your Reputation

You would probably say I am just paranoid.

Just the past week we've heard that someone hacked into Sony's Playstation Network and into the members personal details. It is not stated whether credit card information were leaked but it is not far fetched.

And then Facebook admitted that they have been leaking personal data to third parties for years. And only because it was revealed by Symantec, the security company.

Facebook also admitted to hiring a PR company to run a negative campaign against Google. If a company would stoop so low as hire a company to do something unethical, could you ever trust them with your personal information?

Apple is also being sued because of the Ipad and Iphones location tracking because they store the information in their databases and it can be restored using itunes. The main concern was, what if someone hacked into these databases?

Lately, I have been weary with this Internet companies since they seem to bent on using their customers' data to every profitable way they can imagine. And hackers have become bolder and more sophisticated in their methods. So right now I am being more careful with the information I share. For starters I think there will be no more personal social network accounts for me. They actually do more harm to me than good.

Again am I being overly paranoid?

I have a former classmate who works abroad. She often receives SMS messages from relatives asking her to send money. The sender even used some personal information that only my classmate and her relatives will know. My classmate is fortunately a cautious person. She called her relative and she found out that her relative did not send any such SMS.

Now who would get a hold of her Cellphone and some information about her. The only thing she could recall is the company she hired to send a package to her country.