Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 25, 2013

Is your online data out of control?

If you are an Internet social butterfly, it just might be

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The women claim their former lovers, angry at being dumped, published the photographs in an attempt to humiliate them, in an act of revenge.

"I'm going after the revenge porn industry," attorney John Morgan told the Houston Chronicle. "Those sickos who post private information of women without their knowledge."

It may be an extreme example, but it highlights the difficulty consumers have in maintaining control over their image in the Internet age. But what about other kinds of private data?

Little or no control

Microsoft, citing a survey showing 45 percent of U.S. adults feel they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather about them while they are browsing the Web or using online services, is promoting new privacy features in Windows 8.

"As online activities have become a valuable part of daily life, privacy is incredibly important,” said Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's chief privacy officer.

Microsoft has produced a series of web videos that explains how consumers can use the new privacy tools in the operating system.

Mobile threats

Privacy risks, of course, are not confined to your desktop PC but increasingly are found on your mobile devices. Trend Micro, a security software company, found an explosion in Android threats in 2012, with new Android malware outpacing PC malware by a ratio of 14 to three.

Social media platforms continued to grow as areas of concern with attackers targeting them more, users putting themselves at risk by oversharing on them, and their legitimate services being co-opted to support cybercriminal activities, the company said.

How does your mobile device become compromised? In many cases it's done by downloading an app that is actually a front for malware. You can provide some measure of protection by only downloading apps from reputable sources. An app promoted through an unsolicited text or email is probably compromised.

The future may be even more hazardous. For 2013 Trend Micro expects hackers to infiltrate legitimate cloud services, using a blog or social media site like Facebook to transmit commands. Every web site now is supposed to have a privacy policy. It might be a good idea to read them.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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