The Trade-Off: Sacrificing Internet Security for Convenience and Privacy for Popularity

Every day when I look at the news I am bewildered by the contradictory nature of society.  On one hand, we pay for things like LifeLock, Anti-Virus software, firewalls, encryption and software that makes us anonymous to provide Internet security for our information and to protect our privacy.  We use paper shredders to thwart would-be thieves from sifting through our paper trail.  Many of us won’t even put Social Security numbers on forms and write “Check ID” on the back of our credit cards so people won’t have our signature.

Then, on the other hand, we turn all the information we have over to online backup services (Carbonite, etc), store our information in ‘the cloud’ on services like iCloud, SkyDrive and DropBox.  We post the most personal examples of our existence on social media sites like Facebook, post videos on YouTube and blast the same around the world with services like Twitter.

I don’t know where the ‘cloud’ is but just like the ones in the air, the ‘cloud’ can move at any time.  You may store your information with a reputable company in the USA and, when corporate management finds they can save money by shipping the whole service to India or Russia, your information goes with it.  Are their employees screened and monitored?  Do they hire the most computer literate people around (hackers) to develop and maintain the systems which are supposed to safeguard your information?  You have given up control of your information and have no way of knowing who ultimately has access to it and what they are doing with it.  Microsoft’s HotMail service ‘lost’ 35 million email addresses and passwords a while back, providing hackers with access to any information they wanted including contacts, information stored in email, answers to secret questions, home/business addresses, phone numbers, banking information, etc.  Facebook and iTunes have had the similar problem at other times.

In addition, people post pictures of themselves in the most embarrassing, unattractive and frequently illegal situations for the world to see.  They update their ‘statuses’ and tell the world where and when they are going to be somewhere.  It has gotten so ridiculous that employers routinely check out Facebook before they hire someone and require the people that they do hire to make their employer a ‘friend’ so that their activities and commentary can be monitored.  People are losing their jobs for posting on the web what they would previously whisper in a friend’s ear.

It has gotten so bad that many insurance companies are contemplating denial of claims for burglaries and the like if you have aided the crime by informing the world that you are going to be away from home so that the burglary can occur while you’re out.  Additionally, if you’re looking for life insurance, expect the insurance company to check out your Facebook page for thinks like base jumping, mountain climbing, skydiving and drug/alcohol abuse.

The way the corporate goliaths in this world operate is they go where they can get the most for less by outsourcing, frequently to the lowest bidder.  When you’re looking at Netflix, do you know that you may actually be watching Amazon because it is cheaper for NetFlix to use Amazon’s Instant Movie system than to add movies into their own lineup?  My point is that in the Internet environment you just don’t know where your information is or who is handling it.

Sure, it is very convenient to have someone take care of everything for you, but are they?  Keeping up with ‘friends’ is great but what happens when some of them aren’t overly friendly?

What I am getting to is that you need to think.  You need to be aware.  You need to question.  You need to actively use your brain and think before you use your technology.


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The Mad Dog
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