Online Internet Privacy

Over the past decade, since the Internet has been on the rise, there has been an increased awareness of how much information people are putting on the Internet. Some of these things include secured bank account information, social security numbers, and even addresses. The Internet is not a toy and is definitely not something to mess around with. Serious crimes can be committed using the Internet and lives can be ruined.

According to an article that CBS has posted, they have an inside scoop on a school teacher who’s private information online was suddenly made public. The article titled “Did the Internet Kill Privacy” talks about a public school teacher whose private photos on Facebook were seen by a student and caused an issue for that teacher. Ashley Payne, the high school English teacher, was called into the principal’s office one day of school to be questioned about a vulgar picture that one of her students had stumbled upon on Facebook. The picture was of Ashley holding a glass of wine and a mug of beer. The Principal of the school gave her an ultimatum of being suspended from her job, or to resign her position as an English teacher. She ended up resigning her position and is now in a law suite against the school to try and get her job back. Her argument is that that information that was found was her private information. The incriminating photo was not taken on school property and she is allowed to do what she wants with her life. There was nothing illegal going on in the photo accept a person who is above the age of 21 having casual drinks at a restaurant.

The problem with this case is that Ashley would still have her job if the information had not been leaked. This is a serious issue when it comes to privacy and it starts with the kind of security measures Internet browsers are using to protect people’s private information. Take Mozilla Firefox for example. The Internet browser offers what is called the Privacy panel. In this panel, you can control how Firefox handles your history. The history is all of the previous websites you have visited. It also offers control of what sites can send you cookies and you are also able to remove cookies that any website has sent you. The last privacy feature is control of how the address bar uses your history to suggest matches for what ever you type into the bar. Google Chrome, another leading Internet browser, basically has the same privacy settings as Mozilla Firefox. You can control the way your browser handles pop-ups, cookies and images. These browsers are clearly taking precaution when it comes to people’s private information but how are criminals still stealing this information?

There are 3 main ways that criminals can go about stealing someone else’s secured information. The first way is to find out what people’s Internet identities are made up of. They are made up of “IP address or internet protocol addresses, address where we live, usernames, passwords, personal identification numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, account number, and mothers maiden name.” Once you have found this type of information its on to step 2. This step is called phishing. This technique is a way for criminals to lure their victims in by sending them spam mail. They are often in disguise as emails from companies we trust, like our banks or our favorite place to shop online. These emails try to trick us into typing in our personal information and them tracking what information we write down. The first way to steal information is by something called pharming. This is where a criminal some how hacks into the ISP or Internet service providers and hijacks that domain name of the website. Once the person is on the website it will ask them to enter personal information. Once that information is entered the criminal can now see all of this and can use the information for what he or she wants.

These issues are being dealt with. ISP are cracking down on their security as are Internet browsers. Many Internet browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer have been working on new and improved ways to keep unwanted websites from tracking a users activity. Google Chromes new way of action is through a program called “Keep my Opt-outs.” This program helps Chrome block any unwanted websites from tracking your activity.

As of now people using and abusing the Internet and people are very vulnerable to being taken advantage of on the fault of the Internet browsers. Hopefully these companies creating these Internet browsers will expand on their security measures and further protect us against “internet attackers.”

Work cited page

Anonymous, (2011, February 6) Did the Internet Kill Privacy, retrieved from

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/06/sunday/main7323148.shtml

Carling, A, (2011, January 30) Safer surfing as browsers increase privacy retrieved from

http://www.neurope.eu/articles/Safer-surfing-as-browsers-increase-privacy/104457.php

Verdi, (unknown date) Options window – Privacy panel, retrieved from

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Options%20window%20-%20Privacy%20panel

Zibreg, C, (2010, March 5) Google Chrome gets richer privacy controls, automatic web page translation, retrieved from

http://www.geek.com/articles/google/google-chrome-gets-richer-privacy-controls-automatic-web-page-translation-2010035/

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