What’s privacy got to do with it?

The news has been rife over the last few weeks with stories of privacy breaches by names we trust and use on daily basis. First it was Google. The corporation with the most popular search engine in the world came under heavy fire after it was revealed its Street View cars inadvertently collected data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Now Google is being sued across the globe and Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has dubbed the incident possibly “the largest privacy breach in the history across western democracies”.

Then came Facebook. The social networking site has been repeatedly criticised for its privacy controls and last week CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally acknowledged that they had “missed the mark” with their privacy settings. They have now released new “simplified” privacy settings to fix the problem.

But is it fair to lay all the blame at the doors of Google and Facebook?

In the Google case there is a lesson to be learned here. Why are so many of us not securing our home and business Wi-Fi networks? Anyone can sit outside your house or business and use your internet service to download your private information including bank account details, passwords, date of birth-¦the list goes on.

Securing your Wi-Fi network is vital whether it is at home or at work. If you are a business owner ensure your employees are aware of your data security protocols and the dangers of unsecured wireless networks. Nobody wants a staff member sharing private corporate information while using free Wi-Fi at the corner Starbucks.

With Facebook, the privacy settings were getting too complicated and steps needed to be taken to ensure users were fully aware of what information was private and what was not. However how much information is too much to share on these sites?

Most people include their name, date of birth, place of residence, relationship status, children’s names while others share much more including phone numbers, email addresses and corporate information.

How many times has someone on your friends list lost their mobile phone and posted their new number or in fact asked you to post your number to reload onto the new phone. They wouldn’t normally contemplate leaving their address book lying around, so why publicise this type of personally identifiable information? A seasoned fraudster could potentially use this information to bypass security questions about you-¦think about it how many of us use our date of birth or child’s name as a password? Not to mention the number of Facebook “Friends’ who we have never met or even know.

While I agree Facebook needed to review the privacy controls, we need to review how much information we reveal online.

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