• Protect Your Reputation by Protecting your Online Privacy

    Life Online: What’s really private?: WNYC’s Sarah Abdurrahman from On the Media Looks at Online Privacy

    Loss of privacy is a trade off, and defines our times.

    One of the best ways to protect your reputation is to project protect your online privacy.

    Protect Your Reputation by Protecting your Online Privacy, On the Media

    The WNYC’s radio show, “On the Media,” recently rebroadcast Sarah Abdurrahman’s look at online privacy.  It’s a great piece (and show), and is an excellent reminder, especially with the news from the NSA, that poor online security can impact our online reputations.

    Sarah Abdurrahman starts by saying online privacy is similar to ordering a Big Mac with a diet Coke: our intentions might be good but we’re sending mixed messages. As a result, we don’t get the expected results.

    Sarah FeinbergDirector of Policy Communications at Facebook, noted that very few users actually cared or objected to current Facebook privacy practices when asked (it was less than one percent), and rarely change their settings.

    A privacy and information security expert, Alessandro Acquisti, at Carnegie Mellon University interestingly gave a more sociological response.  He suggested that if we have the illusion that we have control over our online identity, we’re more likely to attempt to make or request changes to our security settings.  Unfortunately, in reality, we rarely take a careful look at how we’ve set up our accounts, and often just leave them at default.

    Protect Your Reputation by Protecting your Online Privacy

    Most importantly, and perhaps surprisingly, we are subject to rules that third party providers, such as Google, tell us.

    Basically: they own your data.

    If you are using Gmail, Google owns your email, and can do what ever it wants with it.  Google does has a privacy policy saying that it will not give up any information, but they’re not required to follow it or it’s rarely enforced.

    Further, Sarah Feinberg says that we don’t have same forth amendment rights for email as we would have if a piece of mail that was delivered to your house.

    Remember General Petraeus and the Jennifer Caldwell affair?  It was discovered through a technique favored by terrorists and teens: create draft emails on a shared email account to stay in contact.  If messages not are actually sent, there are is nothing to trace, supposedly. But if the director of the CIA can’t cover his tracks, can you?

    If they delete it, or erase it no one can trace it, but it’s still not impossible to track down.  “The internet is a giant copy machine.  Anything you put on the internet can be copied and sent around,” says Mat Honan, Senior Writer at Wired.

    Obviously, this mistaken believe that they were using secure communication proved wrong, and ruined their reputations.

    The password is a dangerous illusion, says Honan.  It can be attacked and can reset it available from information online, can get date of birth from Facebook, mother’s maiden name from Ancestry.com.

    The Bottom Line

    Things are not as secure as they seem online.  Protecting your online reputation starts with properly managing your online security.

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