Home Online Privacy - Slipping Away

PostHeaderIcon Online Privacy Vanishing

Most everyone with an email address has received many official-looking “notices” from Federal Express, UPS, eBay, or one or more banks, stating that their personal account has to be “updated” to avoid being canceled. Or that a package cant be delivered unless the sender (you) clicks on a certain file to confirm the delivery information

This is “phishing”. Most seasoned Internet users are used to it by now, and know not to click on anything that comes in an email from one of these apparent senders.

But if the computer owner is also a user of Facebook, Flickr or Twitter, or even a NetFlix subscriber, the science of “data mining” has probably drilled into their personal data and extracted useful tidbits to sell to on-line advertisers.

For example, Vitaly Shmatikov, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas, and Arevind Narayanan, now a researcher at Stanford University, collaborated to show that by examining correlations between varioius online account, whcy cojuld identify more than 30% of the users, despite the stripping of account names and e-mail addresses.

That's not all. In a paper published in 2009, two researchers from Carnegie Mellon University reported that they could accurately predict the full nine-digit Social Security numbers of 89.5% of people born in the United States between 1989 and 2003, or almost five million individuals. They did it from publicly available data, principally date of birth and location.

Evan Ratliff, a writer for Wired and The New Yorker, tried to go missing but keep his Twitter account. He succeeded, but for only twenty-nine days. Read all about it at http://blog.newscloud.com/2009/09/how-we-caught-evan-ratliff.html.


Last Updated (Sunday, 18 April 2010 23:06)