Top Ten Threats to Your Privacy in 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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Dan Tynin of PCWorld has outlined the top ten events that threaten the sanctity of consumer privacy in 2010.

Some of the threats, not surprisingly, came from the usual suspects: criminal syndicates, hackers and all-around cyber miscreants.

More surprisingly, other threats emanated from the activities of legitimate industry giants and even government agencies, reinforcing the fact that consumer privacy is under attack on multiple fronts in the rapidly changing cyber world.

A summary of Tynin's list of affronts to privacy are as follows:

1. Google's Wi-Fi Spying: Google's Wi-Fi spying debacle didn't start out evil. By using its Street View vans to map out open Wi-Fi networks, Google could provide better location data to mobile users. If you use Google Maps from your phone, it could employ nearby wireless networks to determine where you are, no GPS required...

2. The iPad E-Mail Leak: Last June, Goatse Security exploited a hole in AT&T's Website that displayed an iPad owner's e-mail address when it encountered an HTTP request containing that user's ID number. Goatse flooded AT&T.com with URLs containing random 20-digit numbers and collected 114,000 e-mail addresses of iPad owners. It then shared a few of them with Gawker...

3. Facebook Wi-Fi-Jacking: Programmer Eric Butler wrote the program to demonstrate how much data people send "in the clear" without realizing it. Using Firesheep, a hijacker can access your account on Facebook, Twitter, and two dozen other sites. Any information you thought was private now isn't...

4. 'Naked' Security Scans: Last August, the U.S. Marshals Service in Orlando, Florida, admitted to storing some 35,000 body scans it was supposed to have destroyed. Naturally, some of those found their way onto the Net...

5. Mobile Malware: Kaspersky Lab identified the first malware known to target Android phones last August, and rogue code targeting jailbroken iPhones and iPads has been available for over a year. Schwartau agrees with estimates that 20 percent of all Android and iPhone apps may be infected...

6. Facebook's ID Giveaway: When users clicked ads on Facebook, Web links sent to advertisers contained unique IDs that could be traced back to the users' public profiles--giving the advertisers access to detailed information about a user's religion, politics, sexual preferences, and more. In other cases, app makers simply sold the user IDs to brokers...

7. Cell Phone Tracking: In September, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled that law enforcement officials do not have to obtain a search warrant before obtaining location data, though a judge may still request one...

8. Webcam Watchers: A high school in southeastern Pennsylvania achieved international infamy after it used school-supplied laptops to secretly spy on students. Harriton High officials admitted that the school remotely operated Webcams on the district's 2400 MacBooks as an antitheft feature, capturing more than 50,000 images of students over three years...

9. Zombie Cookies: Don't want online ad companies shadowing you across the Web? Simply delete their browser tracking cookies, and you're free to wander. Right? Wrong. Web advertisers have found a way to follow you anyway, using Adobe Flash cookies that automatically respawn after you delete them...

10. Criminal Stupidity: Google flatly denied that it was slurping data off Wi-Fi networks--until the German government told it to check again. Facebook said it had no idea it was sharing user IDs with advertisers--until the Wall Street Journal pointed it out. Body scans weren't supposed to be retained; Webcams weren't supposed to capture teenagers in their bedrooms. Some of the biggest companies on the Web failed to play by their own rules, and didn't even realize it...

Source: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/212631-2/privacy_alert_10_biggest_threats_of_2010.html

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