Posts Tagged 'privacy'

Work Email and Privacy

Ever wonder if that naughty joke you sent around the office made it’s way to your boss? Sure, sure, it was just a harmless joke right? But perhaps the boss has been reading your email for awhile now. Huh? WTF? Yeah, it’s a work email address, you are using a company computer, and the boss has every right to check in on it from time to time. But that may soon change.

A recent court ruling suggests there are limits to the company’s right to access personal email accounts used on company computers. While initially the court ruled that accessing a personal email account on a work computer gives the employer rights to access the contents but here’s where the wrench gets thrown in. During the forensic data recovery process some of those emails involved communication with her lawyer. Ruh roh. Client attorney priviledge? Hello? Hmm, judges, what do you think? Also another problem crept up, was she accessing her Yahoo account on work time or after hours?

The floodgates would have been opened if some limits were not placed on the employer’s right to potential evidence vs the employee’s rights to privacy. While it doesn’t absolve you from badmouthing your company it does provide some cover, just make sure you have a good story as to why that evidence should be excluded when your old company decides to sue you.

The lines between work and personal time are often blurred and it’s not hard to believe that your boss can read the messages you send on your Blackberry. Even if they are personal messages to your wife, or girlfriend. Regretting any of those message yet?

Browsers woo users with privacy mode

This is great feature. Many are probably thinking “Why not implement this feature right from the beginning?” Why indeed. Microsoft was the first to come out with it’s “InPrivate” mode to protect user data. Next up was the surprise from Google, Chrome, which has the “Incognito” mode. And now Mozilla will be the last to the game (not counting Safari) to introduce a privacy mode with Firefox 3.1.

This is great news for web surfers. No longer will we have to worry about unscrupulous web sites reading cookies, history, or any other personal information stored in our cache files. As a secondary effect let’s hope that spam levels drop off and malware and spyware programs disappear … we can only hope.

Germany a phisher’s delight

How easy is it to get your hands on millions of private data? Hello? McFly? Have you heard of this Interweb? Personal details of 6 million Germans for 850 euros. That was enough to prod German lawmakers into action. So what’s on tap? A complete overhaul to data protection and privacy rules. Officials want to make it illegal to pass private data of individuals around without their express consent. This was all brought to the attention of the German government by 36 yr old, Detlef Tiegel, who claimed to have the banking details of over a million people and proved it, presenting them with a CD with all the information. He said the information was obtained from the lottery corporation that he worked for. (What kind of lottery is this exactly?) We’ll have to wait and see whether the changes have any impact in phishing activity or not, but in the meantime, I won’t be entering my banking details on any German lottery sites … for now.

Users sharing private data unknowingly?

Sadly I do this all the time. What’s this thing I need to click on to see that funny video, done. CLICK! Oops what did I just share. What? I need to install this widget on Facebook, done. CLICK! Why is my computer really slow now, and what’s this charge on my credit card? I’m more aware but I still make some mistakes. Do Internet thieves ever take a day off?

“Internet users appear to take the concept of privacy online seriously, but their actions don’t follow their words very well. AOL surveyed a thousand online consumers in the UK in order to get a feel for their understanding of privacy issues on the Internet and found that while 84 percent said that they would remain tight-lipped about personal details, even more ended up forking them over without any hesitation.” (link)

Is your laptop taking pics of you?

Being able to secretly watch women in various states of undress was the fantasy of many Porky’s fans (hell, it probably still is). But when it comes to doing so with modern technology instead of excitedly peering through a hole in the wall of the women’s shower, the stakes are higher as concerns about privacy and identity theft become more common. One such Peeping Tom learned that the hard way recently, after installing software on a woman’s computer that allowed him to use the camera on her machine to secretly take some 20,000 photos of her and her friends.

It all started when Marisel Garcia started having laptop problems while visiting friends in Gainesville, Florida, last month. Her friends recommended going to a student at the University of Florida who was known for his computer-fixing skills, 23-year-old Craig Matthew Feigin. She left the machine with him overnight and went on her way—until she noticed her computer having new issues several weeks later. In addition to reduced battery life, Garcia told the Gainesville Sun that her laptop’s light turned on every time she got near it—a light that many of us know signals that the built-in camera is in use. (link)

Google adds privacy link to homepage

Bowing to criticism from privacy groups, Google added a “privacy” link to its homepage over the holiday weekend, even axing its own name from the page’s copyright notice so as to keep word weight in check.

Google is (in)famous for its adherence to a spartan aesthetic, and nowhere is that design sensibility more apparent than on the Google home page. The goal is to keep the word count low, which means that only the absolutely most important words—like “advertising programs” and “business solutions”—make the cut. But “privacy”? Nowhere to be found. Hey, you can always Google for it!

This, in fact, was Google’s response when it was criticized earlier this year by privacy activists who claimed that California law required a link to the privacy policy on the home page. It was also the response given a bit later when it emerged that Google was bucking the common practice of the Network Advertising Initiative (a trade group that includes Yahoo and Microsoft) by not including the notice. Google had nothing to hide, it said, it just cared deeply about the purity of the page. (link)


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