How To Give Away Your Personal Information
Identity Theft and Your Personal Information
In many cases, they have then come forth repeatedly over the next few weeks, or even months revising the estimated number of impacted customers. To date, I don't think any have ever lowered those numbers.
Identity Theft and Respected Companies
You and Your Personal Information
Let's consider two events that didn't make the front page of C|Net or CNN.
The Keys To The Castle
I really respect this client.
They don't really know me; I'm "the consultant". They're taking the proper steps when dealing with a consultant, providing the absolute minimum amount of information required. They would never give me unsupervised access to the network, and certainly wouldn't consider giving me passwords to their servers or routers. Not on purpose anyway.
Then there was the day I was working alongside the client and needed to reconfigure a router to complete a task. It's a long walk to the client's office to get the password for that particular router. Yes, this is a client who apparently has a unique password for every piece of equipment they own. Conveniently the client does keep a password protected file on a USB key that contained the needed information. The client was completely appropriate and even asked permission before using my laptop to fetch the file. I consented, and even made the gesture of turning away while he unlocked the file and retrieved the required password.
Have you ever used Google Desktop Search? It's a very cool, and aptly named, program that is a Google for your PC. It will index your files and make them searchable through a fast, flexible, and easy to use interface. It'll even cache the contents of files so if you move it off your hard drive, you'll still be able to see the contents of what was once there. Normally it does all this in the background when you computer is sitting idle. It also does it anytime you open a file.
Your Personal Information Is The Prize
What kind of wondrous data was now available? Personnel records, salary data, trade secrets? Maybe, if this was a corporate client. What about an academic, a University even? Student records, financial aid forms, and grant information. The possibilities were endless.
I promptly deleted the cache. The customer didn't want me to have the information, nor did I.
Would You Hand Your Credit Card To A Stranger?
So let's get a bit more personal.
Convenience And Computer Security Are Rarely Compatible
Pretty much every web browser available these days has quite a few convenience features designed to make your day to day "net experience simpler". One of these convenience features came into play in this example, specifically the Firefox browser's auto-completion feature.
Not too long ago, I was tasked by this client to make arrangements for transfer of an internet domain to their ownership. Not a difficult task, she could have handled it herself. She was quite a capable computer user; she just didn't want to be bothered with the process.
I set aside 20 minutes to go through her domain registrar's step-by-step transfer wizard. I summoned the client to explain the details of the transfer displayed on my laptop screen. Facing the payment options screen the client asked if she could proceed. I relinquished control of my laptop and she entered the credit card information required to complete the transaction.
Web Browsers Cache Your Personal Information
So What's Your Point?
The moral of the story is, when dealing with computer systems that aren't your own, never handle data or documents that you wouldn't want left behind unprotected. In all odds, once you walk away from that computer, you've done just that.
About The Author
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Another Fine Mess!
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The Risk Of Electronic Fraud & Identity Theft
Electronic Fraud and Identity Theft-----------------------------------Human beings are pretty sensible when presented with an imminent threat or risk. That is, if it's staring us directly in the face.
How To Give Away Your Personal Information
Identity Theft and Your Personal Information--------------------------------------------Identity theft is apparently the "in thing" these days. By media accounts, hackers and evildoers lurk everywhere trying to steal your personal information.
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Social Engineering: You Have Been A Victim
Monday morning, 6am; the electric rooster is telling you it's time to start a new work week. A shower, some coffee, and you're in the car and off.
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