Tech & The District » Information Security Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Privacy and the Terminator Wed, 17 Mar 2010 21:58:42 +0000 duncanburns

Great piece today by Steve Lohr in the NY Times (A1, above the fold) on How Privacy Vanishes online. Though the concept of digital litter and eroding privacy expectations have been around for a while, and are perhaps fodder for some of our more technology-phobic friends, family and colleagues, the story points to what I think is likely to be a big new battleground in DC. At what point should the government step in online and protect us from ourselves?

They already do to some extent with other forms of content/communication like films and games with rating systems and phone lines with do not call registries, but in some ways these are incoming rather than outgoing communications where we are voluntarily (phishing aside) for the most part divulging what used to be considered personal and private.

Where should the FTC, Congress or states draw the line on what’s acceptable – balancing individual freedom to share with protecting those individuals in spite of themselves? Having been a victim of banking fraud, I personally don’t want anyone guessing my social security number, but perhaps I’m already at risk given what I’ve put out there.

It’s going to be interesting to see how new tech dynamos work with government to find that balance. I’m sure it’ll be a full and frank discussion to borrow some diplomatic speak, but perhaps the discussion in itself will help educate a broader swath of people about the risks of some of what they’re putting online.

For companies in this space, start communicating your point of view now if you aren’t already, and talk about the options you’re giving your customers, and the ways you’re protecting them. Given the Whac-A-Mole style of politics at time, I’m not sure how much longer online companies are going to be able to get away with an approach of “ask for forgiveness not permission” when it comes to privacy. Though Google and Facebook are two prominent examples of firms dealing with these issues, they won’t be the last and at least they’ve built up enough trust, brand recognition and goodwill to make adjustments without too much damage. Can we say that about most companies grappling with these issues?

Perhaps we all just need to go off the grid like John Connor…? 

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

]]> 1 Conficker What? Mon, 30 Mar 2009 21:50:35 +0000 Vanessa Truskey Since we have clients who work in the realm of information security, it’s my job to be aware of (at least marginally) some of the latest threats, viruses and worms intimidating the average Internet user.  What strikes me as funny, though, is when these threats go mainstream. 

If you watched the “60 Minutes” piece last night on the Conficker worm, the latest of many threats to Internet safety, you may not be surprised to know that Conficker has become a household name almost overnight (even DC 101’s Elliott in the Morning took a break from its raunchy/hilarious shock-jock morning talk to discuss it, albeit half mockingly).  But honestly – it’s enough to make you want to unplug your computer from that data port and revert back to a typewriter for word processing.  But how scared should we be?  And how newsworthy really is this?

The “60 Minutes” segment starts out ominously: “The Internet is infected.”  Who doesn’t know that already?  This doesn’t mean you are infected (if you have a Mac, you’re definitely not infected).  If you have any tech savvy at all, you’re aware of the ways to keep yourself and your computer safe on the Internet.  If you don’t, Computerworld can help.  Scare tactics, though, aren’t helpful, unless of course you’re a Nielsen guy.  But I don’t get the impression that Lesley Stahl spends much time on Facebook or YouTube.

Then I realized who the target audience for “60 Minutes” is: my parents and grandparents. I suppose if several million baby boomers and other relative newbies to the Internet went online and patched their browsers or upgraded their anti-virus software, then we all owe Stahl a debt of gratitude.  My humble take on this: it’s an attempt to use April 1, the day the worm will allegedly unleash its fury (Capitals fans, get the reference?) as a newshook to scare the bejebus out of the average consumer. 

What should you really be scared about on April 1?  The bad April Fool’s Day joke some corny dude in your office is inevitably planning as we speak…

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