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Old 11-23-2012, 07:18 PM   #1
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Privacy

There is a current thread, "Looking back at you", that covers retail stores, and their attempts to find more information about customers through the use of video cameras.

I would like to see a new and broader discussion about Privacy. In particular, to expand on the amount of available information that is available to others, that you may not be aware of.
I think a good way to start, is to do a simple Google search of your own email name (before the @ sign), and then your user name from any website that you have signed in to.
If you don't find yourself on the first page of results, go to "more" pages.

Of course the most common place to see how far your privacy has been co-opted, is to look on facebook. I have never created a page, but used a phony name to sign on and a special email address, that I created to do that, just to see what it was all about. At last count, I have more than 500 people who want to "friend" me, including relatives of people that I hardly know.

With a phone number, using a reverse number look up site, not only can you find the name and address of the person who has that phone, but usually a listing of the nearest neighbors... as well as people who live with you, and and previous addresses and telephone numbers.

With an address, in most cases, a look at Google Earth and Street View, will show your house, and your neighborhood, and maybe your car.

For "free", on several genealogy sites, it's possible to find extensive information on personal history, relations, birth and death information and location of state records.

For about $25 you can order a criminal history and personal information, just using a name.

With an Email address, a persistent person could go to different local banks, and even though they might not be able to guess your password, could sign on, and use the "can't remember your password" to determine if your account is at that bank.

Back to the "username" thing... If you have used the same name on numerous websites, it's easy enough to go to forums or to view information that you might have put on your own website, blogsite, or places that store your uploaded but unsecured info, like Photobucket. Many of these sites hold that information ad infinitum. I just located some websites that I set up in 2000, for a community that I lived in at the time. Lots of information about the residents, activities, and personal kind of stuff. Thought they were long gone.

Even though I graduated college in 1958, I, or anyone else, can find much public information still on the school website... school activities, sports, classmates, fraternity etc. And all from inputting my name.

These are just a very few examples of available information. The bad guys have many more tools to get even more details.

The question ends up with "Do you care?" ... "What's at risk?" and "Can you do anything about it?"

If you've led a perfect life, and have super strong passwords on your personal and financial info... not too much to worry about... Extortionists and Password "spinners" probably won't work that hard to get at your fortune.

On the other hand...

I'd be interested in thoughts on practical ways to make personal privacy more secure. How to avoid letting more cats out of the bag.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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Of course the most common place to see how far your privacy has been co-opted, is to look on facebook. I have never created a page, but used a phony name to sign on and a special email address, that I created to do that, just to see what it was all about. At last count, I have more than 500 people who want to "friend" me, including relatives of people that I hardly know.
I have a real facebook page and have only had a few dozen people want to "friend" me all of whom I know. What phony name did you use?

DH worries about privacy stuff. Me, not as much. Just don't think I'm that interesting to anyone other than retailers who want to sell me pet stuff
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:19 AM   #3
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I definitely worry about ID theft, online or elsewhere. We're very careful and so far we've never had an incident, but I'm not naive enough to think we're not susceptible. And I assume it will only be more challenging to protect private information in the future. It's too bad because there are so many helpful functions that smartphones, etc. can provide with some of our info.

DW will NOT let me join FB. I can see retailers FB sites without joining, so I honor her wishes and I have not joined. But I suspect it will just become too compelling to NOT join eventually.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:51 AM   #4
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I have a facebook page (real name) and rarely get friend requests. At first I got a lot from people who were friends of friends - most of whom I knew and wanted to be facebook friends with. I don't accept requests from people I don't know.

Facebook does have a lot of ways you can set it so that certain people can only see some things.

I use a password program with different logins and passwords for different sites and generate random passwords for important sites. I login frequently to anywhere I have money so would know right away if there was any problem.

All of that said - my general rule for online presence is pretty simple. Don't say anything online that it would really create any problem for you if it was revealed publicly. (And, yes, that includes here).

My younger friends have a very different attitude to privacy. They do see their lives as pretty much open book. It is a hard adjustment to make but I can see that I'm slowly moving more in that direction.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post

The question ends up with "Do you care?" ... "What's at risk?" and "Can you do anything about it?"

If you've led a perfect life, and have super strong passwords on your personal and financial info... not too much to worry about... Extortionists and Password "spinners" probably won't work that hard to get at your fortune.

On the other hand...

I'd be interested in thoughts on practical ways to make personal privacy more secure. How to avoid letting more cats out of the bag.
I have three life parts.
1) My job-life is strictly through company email. I do not use that for any social media. Everything is managed through megacorp, so as long as I am careful, all is ok. However, a company they hired did lose some of my personal data. They set up a temporary ID-fraud account for me.
2) My personal life is tied into my consulting business. For that reason I stay anonymous as much as possible. The way to do this is to set up free email account(s) so that you can have a buffer between what you join, what you post, etc.
3) My consulting life is complicated since I support tech for several businesses. I set up separate email for each business, so that I don't possibly mix business data from different clients.

I have never exposed my own or client data due to password guessing. I've always used strong passwords, and also randomize login names when possible. However, some in the family have had email compromised (like Yahoo email lists were cracked).

I currently have ID-theft protection through Penfed. Yeah, they lost some data too. I don't think you can prevent loss of data in the future. Some have lost data, some will lose data, so that makes only two kinds of net citizens. Even megacorp was compromised through security key compromise of a third party device.

So, I stay vigilant, and try to mitigate the possible effects. Even if you use strong passwords, it is actually the providers you use who are targeted. In the last 7 years, our PII has been lost by employers, BC/BS, Yahoo, Penfed, Barclay. So, if everything about you is behind one email and one password, then I believe you have more risk.

I happen to be cleaning up two PC systems this weekend. How were systems compromised? Cute screensavers, Facebook, and AOL tend to be highly correlated, IMO. Also, on these systems an inexperienced "expert" tried to help by installing utilities that purported to fix the bad stuff, but actually installed rootkits.

a) I care a lot about security
b) The risk is relative to what you have
c) Keep an encrypted drive. Use randomized login. Use unique strong password.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:47 PM   #6
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I'm on Facebook and have only gotten a handful of friend requests from strangers. I simply ignored those along with a few acquaintances I didn't want to friend. I do worry about the potential for identity theft but hope I can avoid any serious problems with a little prudence. I fear that a skilled black hat could take any of us to the cleaners if he or she took the time to focus on us and plan out a comprehensive attack.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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If you've led a perfect life, and have super strong passwords on your personal and financial info... not too much to worry about....
Whew! That's a relief!
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:29 PM   #8
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I deleted my Facebook page last year. Too many patients (and other people I had never heard about) were trying to befriend me. No way.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
I would like to see a new and broader discussion about Privacy. In particular, to expand on the amount of available information that is available to others, that you may not be aware of.
I'd be interested in thoughts on practical ways to make personal privacy more secure. How to avoid letting more cats out of the bag.
I think that Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynski probably had his privacy locked down pretty well. Living in a hole must have been a big help.

When people go out in public, as long as they're decently behaved and not flinging $100 bills at the passers-by, then they're relatively anonymous. Nobody wastes their time assaulting you for your wallet, nobody thinks you're worth pestering for your checking-account login, and you're largely ignored. There are random acts of violence, but you're largely living by security through obscurity and by not acting like a victim. Sure, you could carry a Uzi and never have a checking account. But most people live with the minimal risk of assault by keeping to the crowds in the well-lit spaces.

Why should the Internet be any different? It's jam-packed to overflowing with far more attractive targets than any of us, and we're relatively anonymous, and we're decently insured against fraud & theft. It's not worth the effort to rip us off. So why give up all the benefits just to avoid the minimal possibility of bad stuff?

Your searches are relatively rudimentary. I go out of my way to stake out an online presence with my poster name and my real name in as many social-networking places as I can. The idea is to establish my own reputation (even if it's just a placeholder) so that it's not co-opted by random mentions of my name from other sources. There aren't many Doug Nordmans in America, but if that Phoenix realtor ever attracts the wrong kind of attention then I want to make sure that my personal info is attached to Oahu, not Arizona. It's the same with e-mail addresses and Facebook pages and Linkedin and Tumblr and... well, frankly, it's a hassle to sign up for all of those places. There's probably an app that will do it for us.

When I published the book, I tried to remain as anonymous as possible. My thought was that an Army corporal might want to read "The Military Guide" (and he'd certainly benefit from it), but he'd be put off the subject if he knew it was written by a submarine officer. Well, it turns out that I was dead wrong. Book buyers want to know who's behind the product so that they can judge whether it's worth their interest (and their money). I may still be a submarine officer, but I'm also a military veteran whose identity provides the social proof for even an Air Force tech sergeant to feel that the advice is credible.

By splashing my identity around, I've met hundreds of incredibly impressive people. I've made more friends in retirement than I had on active duty. I've done more socializing in the last decade of ER than I did during two decades of working. I never expected that to be a byproduct of writing a book, but I've certainly enjoyed the benefits of it.

I'm sure glad I didn't build a Fortress of Solitude to preserve my privacy and avoid all of those "problems".

As Scott Nealy used to say: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #10
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Pretty much what Nords said.

True identity theft can be a nightmare to deal with but even then only if one is in a position to need credit or are looking for a job. If things are otherwise stable one then has the time to deal with it as required without a lot of stress.

It involves much letter-writing and notarized statements but is not impossible or all that difficult. It's just that it takes time and if you're in the process of one of those major life changes at the same time it complicates things immensely.

All the horror stories involve people dealing with ID theft AND trying to find a job or buy a house, car, etc. with credit at the same time. As of others have written here, if you don't need or plan to use credit or hunt for a job then it doesn't matter much.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:43 PM   #11
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As Scott Nealy used to say: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."
What Nords said... +1

Yeah... It was intended to be a general post, to bump the thinking on the privacy issue, but in my own case... have come to the conclusion that my fortune may not be worth the effort. 25 years of being on-line (bulletin boards to today) have left a lot of footprints.

That said... along the way, have found some nasty trackers, so I don't go out of my way to open up for exposure, and I do use security.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:11 PM   #12
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I'm sure glad I didn't build a Fortress of Solitude to preserve my privacy and avoid all of those "problems".

As Scott Nealy used to say: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."
+1. The only reason I got on Facebook is because of my charity work. To promote our Facebook page and all. One of our younger board members talked me into it.

I'm glad she did. I've reconnected with a number of family members I haven't seen in years. Also, I found my old best friend from my high school days and have immensely enjoyed rekindling my friendship with her.

Yup, perhaps I'm more vulnerable but it's worth it. Again, I just don't think with all that's out there many people are interested in a little old lady in Virginia. Still careful though. Use all the usual precautions against identity theft and try not to do anything too stupid.
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