Why Care About Online Privacy (If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide)

It seems as though the more we prosper the more privacy we sacrifice. Nowadays, your social networks know everything about you and the world doesn’t seem to care much about this intrusion. If your privacy is something you’re lenient with or if you belong to the group who think that the breach of privacy is something serious, or among the people who think protecting their privacy is a big deal, this article will help you understand just why you need to guard your confidentiality and also help you dispel a few myths about the thing that have probably been nagging your mind.
Alarm: Your data is valuable stuff:
People usually don’t think that their information is very important because after all, why would organizations buy the bio-data of an insignificant, common man? Well, that’s just the thing. If multinationals are willing to pay for your information, there has to be a very good reason for it. This doesn’t only mean your basic information but everything from your date of birth to your quirky little buying habits, it’s all important.
Usually when someone asks for your information, they assure you that it’ll be taken ‘anonymously’ and treated as such too. Now while the gatherer may be anonymous, your information is inevitably traced right back to your individual self later on. This is the primary reason why big companies discourage consumers from opting out of behavioral marketing. Your information has real, tangible value and sells for a lot of money. For example, for Facebook, you are worth just short of 5 Dollars a year even if you don’t open your wallet for them once.
This leads some people to believe that privacy is essentially nonexistent now but that’s not the case either. People are very concerned about the information they hand out. Even people who have already given out their private information are now very concerned about what is happening to it. They are gaining more awareness of their information day by day without wanting to black out all their information for free services. They just want to keep control over it and want to know what happens to it once it’s dished out.
Who’s More Dangerous: The Government or Businesses?
This question has been asked time and time again but there’s still no concrete answer to it.
The Government:
Usually it’s assumed that when you sign up for a Web site, your information is given to them and kept by them only. However, it’s not as simple as that. Truth is that even a simple FOIA request by the DEA and IRS are enough to get information about you from companies like Twitter and Facebook.
It is a common belief that the information you give is simply filtered by the government to catch criminals. But that’s not the only truth again, the government needs only to send a request for information and the company gives out information about you, your friends, your family and common interests even if you have a clean rap sheet.
If you thought that the government was bad, get a load of this. The government has to provide some level of transparency in order to fulfill lawful requirements. Businesses aren’t bound as such; private companies are free from these bindings by the privacy act of 1974. Once you give them your information, there’s no telling how far it’ll go to be used. Some companies even reserve the right to sell your information while a state, in their terms of service that they will use your information for sharing with their strategic partners, which is essentially the same thing without the cash involved.
One small comfort people have is in that the information they give isn’t personally identifiable. However, that too isn’t completely accurate. The fact is that not enough people ask themselves if the information they’re clicking ‘ok’ to is still their property later on or not. To put it simply, it isn’t. Once you click on that ‘I accept’ to the terms of service you didn’t read, you give away your information and it isn’t coming back even if you want to modify it later on.
However, this game runs both sides of the board because you have every right to your information and can ask about how it’s being used. You have complete right to ask where your information is being kept and if it’s secure or not. This is such an issue that even the Whitehouse has been taking measures to ensure that the consumer gets SOME privacy. This has proved to be a good first step but it’s still just that: “The first step”.
Even if you are perfectly comfortable about dishing your information, you must realize that others aren’t. This calls for consumer awareness. You have a right to privacy and even if not for yourself, you need to demand it for someone who needs it more than you.
Demand your privacy. Read terms of services carefully and be responsible about the information you give and how it’s handled.
Prevent Business Organizations from Intruding Your Online Privacy:
We live in a world where privacy has become a rare commodity. With the rising popularity of social networks, it has become increasingly tricky to regulate your virtual presence and control the amount of information you share with others. As the virtual media has become really vast, it is difficult to ensure 100% privacy, but there are methods through which you can ensure maximum safety. The most important wax-on of internet security is to have the latest Antivirus and firewall to ensure none of the parasites in cyberspace chew up your computer system. The following points, will give the readers a better understanding of the dangers involved in giving away your personal information to a website without taking adequate precautions. For those who don’t know what safety measures are to be taken, this page is the right one to be on.
Increase the Privacy of Your Internet Browser
Your browser acts as a medium for you to access other websites. It is useful but that is how most of the viruses make way to your computer. This is why it is vital that you tweak your privacy settings on your browser first. Make sure all the websites that you access, are safe for browsing and do not require any information that is strictly confidential and sensitive such as credit card details, personal contact and/or location. Having taken care of these things you can now move on to the next step. Using search engines that won’t save any of your searches that will definitely control the amount cache that gets piled up and as a result slows down your computer.
Put on some extensions
Once you have made the necessary changes to the privacy of your internet browser, you also have the option of adding certain extensions that will further enhance your presence on the cyberspace. Use extensions that will sift spam advertisements. Secure your connection by just using HTTPS, which automatically encrypts your information for other websites. These days there are many password management extensions which ensure that the user changes their password often, create strong passwords and protects people from password theft. Moreover, users can also go for other extensions like Do-Not-Track-Me which prevent third-party agencies from tracking and accessing all the websites that have been visited on your computer. Download extensions to manage your cookies and try to keep your cache clean as much as possible.
Once you have all these things out on your checklist to achieve internet security, your next step comes to protecting your social media presence. Make sure that you associate with people who are legitimate and trustworthy online and do not hand out personal information to any person that bumps into you in the virtual sphere. Tweak your Facebook and Twitter settings to protect your identity and personal data. Given the current circumstances where many whistleblowers have showed us all how vulnerable we are on the internet, these are only some of the measures you can take in order to protect yourself. Though it is not foolproof, but will definitely back you up wherever and whenever it can.
An intro to Info Hackers and some precautions to consider:
The aforementioned threats are of the higher level, there are still the regular hackers who tend to peak on important personals, like credit cards, and then exploit that information to satisfy personal motives. Issues with real stalkers have always been a threat but the preoccupation of internet has made the confidentiality problems much more superficial by exposing them to the virtual scythes. However, technology is not to be blamed for this matter but the sick people who collect and misuse information about individuals are the real culprits. This concern has led many to think about the ways to protect their personal information. If you are one of those, following are a few tips for you to secure your personal data efficiently:
GPS and Wi-Fi:
GPS and Wi-Fi can be considered doors to the data you want to protect. So an easy way is to shut those, specifically when unwanted strangers are not to be welcomed.
GPS: Leaving the GPS enabled when it is not in use can easily broadcast locality to a number of people like app developers or cell phone providers. Carrying a smart device that has GPS empowered can reveal even more specific locality; it is a simple tactic to deactivate GPS when it is not being used.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi can be used to access information on your device like phone numbers, pictures, browsing history hence it works exactly like the GPS. Installing power managing apps will disconnect Wi-Fi automatically when the screen goes dark and save you the trouble of doing it yourself again and again.
Date of Birth and Telephone number:
The way out from this security threat is to simply avoid disclosing accurate date of birth as it can be used for verification; same is the case with telephone numbers. It is vital to only provide these specifics correctly when they are to be used with credible organizations and not the random ones.
Safety Check:
One can never know who to trust, what the true identity of people is and whether the site you are surfing is safe or not. The best an individual can do is not to reveal any personal identifiable information on site that cannot be relied upon. Your name, email address, credit card number etc. are included in this category.
Shop with Security:
Firstly, it is significant to only shop at reputed stores, to dodge the shady ones that are there only to trap unaware shoppers. The next thing to consider is whether the trusted store you are shopping at regards security as the topmost priority; this can be confirmed by simply investigating into the kind of technology they use. All you have to do is ensure that the store has the following:
“Https” before its web address; the “s” is actually the essence.
Go carefully through the checkout page to see if it verifies that the page is secured by professional safety technology vendors and if it has the tiny lock padded symbol at the bottom right corner.
The Phishing Snare:
Phishing is one of the most common weapons hackers use. In fact, even you can create a phishing page after watching a couple of tutorials on YouTube. Basically, these pages act as a clone of real login pages and once people log into them, they indirectly send their login information to the hacker/creator of the site. They are generally sent via emails faking to be the original business organizations hence it is easy to identify them. Here again the “HTTPS” rule applies while another useful point to keep in mind is to always login to the original site instead of trusting the received hyperlinks.
All in all, there will always be the bad guys hence precautions are to be always taken to guard ourselves. There are virtual laws too, which will be covered in another article; they are the last steps we take in case of rare and damaging intrusion. The information provided in this article is a general introduction to aware the readers about how the people they are exposed to. By simply practicing these safety measures, everyone can be sure not to make a silly mistake from their end.

The Role of the Reflective IS Scholar-Practitioner

While there will always be a demand for competent Information Systems (IS) professionals, let’s face it: in this economy, competence isn’t good enough. It’s the merely competent who will get the pink slips when the bottom line demands payroll cuts. The real plum jobs, the kind that provide tenure for those supercompetents who practice them well, are those that have more far-reaching implications than a simple ability to maintain the servers and keep the databases in order. One way to achieve this pinnacle of success is to become a reflective IS scholar-practitioner.

What does that mean? Let’s take look at the components of the term. Obviously, the individual is involved in the Information Systems field. A scholar-practitioner is defined as an individual whose training and experience in a particular field allows him or her to bring together two realms of experience: that of scholar, who studies in-depth the components, theories, and implications of their field, and that of actual practitioner, who labors in the field daily. This hybrid role lends the strengths of both realms to his or her practice. For example, those physicians who remain active in scholarly research (such as clinical drug trials) while still seeing patients on a regular basis may be considered scholar-practitioners. In the IS field, a scholar-practitioner would be an individual who studies the intricacies of the IS field, while maintaining an active role in delivering IS services to others.

A reflective practitioner employs a careful, open cognitive process to examine beliefs and goals about his discipline, in order to gain a deeper understanding that leads to actions that may improve the discipline in general. It follows, then, that a reflective IS scholar-practitioner is one who carefully considers the issues affecting his own IS practice, learns to solve those problems, and then communicates the results in a scholarly manner.

The role of the reflective IS scholar-practitioner is richer and more complex than those of the standard reflective IS practitioner or IS scholar-practitioner, and for many IS professionals doubtless more satisfying than either individually. The reflective IS scholar-practitioner is a sort of “Renaissance Man” of the IS field, one who generalizes rather than specializes, bringing a larger frame of reference to the day-to-day management of IS. In so doing, he offers a clearer view of the Big Picture. In some cases, his reflective, problem-solving nature combines with their scholarly tendencies to provide solutions for IS problems not just within their own institution, but everywhere. Consider Vinton Cerf, the inventor of Internet Protocol (IP) and one of the fathers of the Internet; or Linus Torvalds, the creator of the open-source Linux computer operating system. Both gentlemen might be considered “poster children” for the reflective IS scholar-practitioner movement.

The reflective IS scholar-practitioner (RISSP) must be adept at handling not only the ordinary day-to-day problems that might emerge within his purview, but must also any unique problems as well. A wide-ranging and authoritative skill-set is required for the RISSP to remain effective in his role as IS “über-geek”:

  1. Comprehensive knowledge of IS method and theory
  2. Creativity
  3. Flexibility
  4. Collaborative work skills
  5. The ability to work “on-the-fly” and calmly assess each situation
  6. The ability to become deeply involved in the intricacies of his organization
  7. The willingness to step back occasionally to take a look at the larger picture
  8. The ability to synthesize data, using techniques from both scholarly and technical experience
  9. The ability to effectively document changes as they occur
  10. Better-than-average communications skills, both verbal and written

It should go without saying that any RISSP worth his salt must have a comprehensive knowledge of IS — not just its current configuration, but also its history and future potential. This requires constant self-education, of course. Creativity and flexibility are also musts, because the RISSP must be able to pull together disparate bits of knowledge, while working with what he has, in order to properly understand the nature of the problem and to recommend potential solutions. In his role as assembler and communicator of data, the RISSP must of course be able to work collaboratively with others, as part of a team; this is a keystone skill, for without it, all is lost.

Working calmly “on-the-fly,” as events occur, is of prime importance in real-life situations, where solutions may not be able to await ivory-tower solutions. This skill, as well as the ability to become intricately involved in the day-to-day-functioning of the organization and the willingness to step back and look back at the Big Picture occasionally, are central to the RISSP’s skill-set. So is the ability to pick data, techniques, methods, and potential solutions from every aspect of his education and experience and tie them together in a comprehensive new way, whenever this is necessary. Of course, as a scholar and communicator of ideas, the RISSP must also be willing and able to clearly document and share the situation and its solution, acting as its historian; to do so, he must be able to communicate extraordinarily well.

The modern RISSP is faced with the same issues that face all IS professionals; however, they may experience the entire difficult range of problems during the course of their duties, often many at once. These can include:

  1. Rapid evolution of IS technology
  2. Ethical issues
  3. Increasing difficulty in communicating effectively
  4. Security
  5. Computer crime
  6. The evolution and growth of electronic commerce
  7. A tendency to focus on technology at the expense of information
  8. Quality assurance issues
  9. End user support
  10. Academic relevance

When IS was limited to technologies associated with the spoken and printed word, it was easy to keep up with technological change; indeed, until the emergence of first radio/television and then the desktop computer, probably the most significant technological innovation was the printing press. Now, technology changes at such a rapid pace that all IS professionals are hard-pressed to keep up with it. This is bad enough for the specialist, but particularly difficult for the RISSP, since he must be aware of changes across the length and breath of the field. Also especially cogent are the ethical issues involved with IS, especially Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and privacy. Because software is easy to copy, and few effective countermeasures to this problem have been found, the RISSP must be constantly aware of the need to insure that his organization is clean of copyright infringements, accidental or not.

Privacy has become a huge issue in the IS field. Every variety of data is available in cyberspace, from credit card numbers to medical information. Large corporations seem to allow this data to leak onto the Internet constantly, mostly because effective ways have yet to be found to plug the security holes inherent to the dominant but poorly designed operating systems in use. It is the role of the RISSP to step back and find these solutions.

Despite ease of access to communications, communicating itself is harder than ever; this is another issue that the RISSP should seek to overcome — as is the sad state of computer security, which takes us back to the privacy issue. Current operating and related information systems are unfortunately exploitable by unethical individuals with sufficient computing knowledge. This feeds the computer crime issue, which will surely remain a significant problem until the security issues are effectively dealt with. Meanwhile, electronic commerce, which requires tighter security than is commonly available, continues to grow in economic importance; it behooves the RISSP to keep an eye on it, lest fraud and theft increase at an exponential rate.

RISSPs should also fight the tendency for IS professionals to focus on new technology at the expense of the information itself. It does no good to have the fastest computer on the block if the programs you run on it consist of buggy COBOL code inexpertly ported from ancient FORTRAN cards. One good example of this was the infamous Y2K problem, which originated with the fact that IS professionals were still reusing old code modules that were written back in the 1960s and 1970s, when Y2K was so far away that no one bothered to take the new millennium into account. In this vein, new software code must continue to be subjected to rigorous quality assurance (QA) and testing measures, lest one end up with a product that is so bloated and buggy that it requires endless security patches as hackers find new ways in. Related to this is the need to maintain good end user support, since it is the end users who act as a last line of defense against bugs and errors that QA fails to catch.

The last issue strikes at the heart of what it means to be a RISSP. Since before the turn of the millennium, most practitioners have not viewed academic IS researchers as particularly relevant to their everyday lives. Yet how can reflective IS scholar-practitioners even develop without the academic and research-oriented parts of their background? It is clearly necessary for those concerned with this issue to ensure than the academic research remains relevant to the real life of the IT professional, else the RISSP will cease to exist as such.

IS trends will also significantly impact the RISSP going forward. At this time, they include:

  1. The expansion of e-business
  2. Globalization
  3. Enterprise elaboration
  4. Emergence of digital firms
  5. The rapid growth of networking
  6. Telecommuting
  7. The growth of Electronic Data Interchange
  8. Continued evolution of end-user computing
  9. Increased interoperability between systems
  10. The evolution of open-source information systems.

Unless we somehow slip back into the Stone Age, e-business and concurrent globalization will continue apace. Enterprise systems will continue to evolve, making infrastructure software — which is crucial to the daily operation of any IS organization — even easier to access and use. Already the digital firm, which keeps track of all relationships with clients, customers, employees, and suppliers by means of IS, has begun to emerge: core processes are digitally enabled in many organizations, private and otherwise, allowing a more rapid, effective response to changing conditions. It is safe to say that IS will continue to play a vast role in this digital evolution for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, networking between businesses and organizations will continue to grow, and will eventually make the current version of the Internet seem both obsolete and quaint. This, too, cannot be accomplished without a plethora of IS professionals, and the RISSP must be available to offer solutions as they become necessary.

Telecommuting is one outgrowth of networking and the easy access to broadband, making it less and less necessary for people to work together in an office. Add to that teleconferencing via computer, and why bother going into a central office at all? We may be approaching a time when most organizations and businesses become entirely decentralized, like the Internet, and there are signs that this already happening.

We live in the Information Age, and it may be that no age of humanity was ever more aptly named. IS professionals, not just RISSPs but many others, are making this more of a reality every day as they continue to evolve existing technologies like interoperability between information systems all over the world, as Electronic Data Interchange forms like PDF are created and widely adopted, and as end-user computing continues to evolve to the benefit of all. Perhaps the most exciting trend, however, is one that has become most evident in the two decades: open-source information systems. UNIX and Linux led the way, offering open-source OS kernels that individual programmers could tinker with and add to. GNU (for “GNU is not UNIX”) provides another open-source computing option. In a curious mix of two IS formats — GNU and the written word — wiki sites (as exemplified by Wikipedia) offer forums where users can add and edit content at will. While Wikipedia and its ilk do have their problems (sometimes wide-open systems can be difficult to police), it seems likely that this experiment will continue to evolve in a positive direction, in which any user can make a contribution, however small, to the global store of knowledge.