Sunday, December 06, 2009

Privacy and Security in the Internet Age

Just some advice that I give friends and family:
  • Delete all cookies in your browser every week - it is easy enough to sign in again to web sites that require authentication. People who do not delete their cookies never see what sites are tracking them. It is easiest to do a 'delete all cookies' operation and not to try to save the 5 or 10 cookies out of thousands that are stored in your local browser data.
  • Keep a text file with all passwords in encrypted form - and, do not use the same password for different purposes.
  • Every time you use your super market's discount card (or possibly pay with a credit card), your purchases are permanently associated with you - do you care? maybe or maybe not.
I do use a lot of web services that track what I do (GMail, for example) but I make the decision to give up privacy vs. benefits on a service by service basis.

4 comments:

Nikos said...

Also a good post to raise awareness and not too far fetched
http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-6171-Chicago-Social-Networking-Examiner~y2009m6d21-How-Im-going-to-use-social-networking-to-steal-your-identity

Neoncow said...

If you're deleting cookies, you might also want to look to Flash objects that can be stored on your computer.

http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager03.html

http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager07.html

Michael H. said...

As far as passwords go, I'm a big fan of PasswordWallet. Others like 1Password, and I'm sure there are others. PasswordWallet syncs to my iPhone (and sync'd to my Pilot before that), and gives you the ability to record all your other passwords behind one password you use to open the database. Also, it has handy buttons for filling in web forms, automatically quits itself so you don't leave it open too long, &c.

If you don't care about syncing, than an encrypted disk image (on MacOSX) or other encrypted file approach is good too. (And free.)

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Nikos: thanks, that was a dood article.

Neoncow: good tip, I just adjusted my Flash settings.

Michael: I use an encrypted volume - I feel comfortable with that. I don't put sensitive information in GIT repositories and my rsync backup scripts are also written to avoid copying sensitive customer data.