Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookies Can Hurt Your Waistline and Your Identity

The ways in which cybertechnology has impacted privacy are already too numerous to recount in a short discussion, but the following four key points may provide a summary:

Trackability: with GPS in cell phones and car navigation, “check-in” features on Facebook, as well as “add location” buttons on other sites, minute to minute location updates can broadcast incredible detail about a person’s habits. Such details can aid stalkers and thieves of both physical and cyber realms.

Trojans, Viruses, and Worms, Oh My!: Malware has added numerous ways for malicious users to gain access to personal information much more easily and quickly than in pre-tech times. Once the information has been obtained, the thief can also utilize online resources to gain even more data regarding the potential victim.

Cookies Can Hurt Your Waistline and Your Identity: Whether they are “session,” “persistent,” or “third-party,” the enablement of cookies allow sites and therefore site owners to collect personal information about a user (Richmond, 2009). If utilized, that information may then be available for advertisers who can send user-specific media and/or malicious users who will grab any data which may be to their benefit.

Convenient and Safe are Mutually Exclusive: These days, many businesses sport logos that say “Free Wi-Fi,” which is convenient, but not necessarily safe, for customers. Public access offers risks to such a point that Microsoft has created a Wi-Fi safety page, and specific attacks like the “evil twin” mirror Wi-Fi access points and gather data without the user ever knowing they have been compromised (Microsoft, 2011; Biba, 2005). With the growing use of cloud computing, these issues will continue to expand as users will have to decide how much security they are willing to compromise in order to conveniently access virtual services.

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