Privacy on the Web: You Have None

With all the news hitting lately of breaches and security gaffes, it seems privacy is the last thing anyone should expect on the Web. Two recent bits of news show the two sides of how your privacy isn’t really private.

The first comes from services being compromised.

Joining the likes of Sony, the password service LastPass has been breached and is telling users to change their passwords. LastPass provides storage for passwords and gives users a master password that will allow them access the rest. LastPass is unsure of how its network was compromised and even if passwords were taken, but it is still urging all users to change their master passwords just to be safe.

Unfortunately, the company has said that it is being overwhelmed by requests to change passwords for customers, and has asked for users to delay in some changes. All of its users got a scare, but the company is having trouble keeping up with the repercussions of that.

The second bit of privacy news comes from Yahoo, which has told the world that search engines don’t need much information to figure out who and what you are — though with Appleand Google tracking users to some extent, they do know more than we think they do.

During the week, Yahoo Search Trends carefully monitored US searchers concerning Osama bin Laden. Yahoo then said that simply by monitoring searches it found that 20% of all bin Laden searches were made by teenagers and even that 66% of users searching “who is osama bin laden[sic]” were from users aged 13 to 17.

Yahoo didn’t use a survey, ask repeat permissions or ask any questions at all; it just looked at the data and could figure out a user’s information based on their searches.

Not only do these companies know a lot more about us than we know (just think of all the mobile phone tracking issues last week), but consumers seem to be putting out a lot more personal information than they realized.

Apple said it is in the process of releasing a new version of the iOS software that will remove its “tracking” activity.

Sony Breach: 100 Million Strong and Growing

And of course, Sony has continued to sink like the Titanic (the ship, not the movie)..

Sony has taken a look into its Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) operations and said that hackers have stolen some SOE customer information, including bank account information.

Sony said that 24.6 million SOE accounts have been compromised, meaning as many as 100 million accounts from various Sony properties may have been compromised in the past few weeks.

Sony confirmed the theft of 10 million credit cards including 12,700 non-US credit and debit card numbers as well as 10,700 direct debit records for customers in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.

Sony has put up information about the issue on its service Web sites, but this breach needs far more than an apology or an extra bit of free service.


About the Author

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