The IndUS Network e-magazine
Entertainment, Edutainment, Enrichment ™

May 2014-Jun 2014

Internet Privacy: An Oxymoran?

In this Edition

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Editor's Desk

Internet Privacy is not a joke.

Over the past one year, how many times you have seen this news, "Another website breached. Change your password immediately." Quite frequently, right? The breach has spanned both critical and non-critical websites like banks, email providers, retail stores, gaming stores and others. With revelation about government spying program like PRISM, internet safety, security and privacy has taken a center stage. In this transgressing world, how safe are you?

Do you know that you will be tracked by at least 150 additional websites within 24 hours of visiting any website? It is true. Try searching on any topic and notice the advertisement you will be receiving on your computer. This is known as "Behavioral Tracking" and it is a huge business. It generates closer to 39 billion per day for these advertising companies. Now these corporations know where you live, what your immediate life's needs are, where you are vacationing, where you are shopping, what you are buying, who your friends are, what diseases you have, which hospital you visit and a whole lot more. You can see a demo of behavioral tracking here. To this, add our NSA's surveillance program (PRISM) which tracks your phone behavior like who you are calling, how long you are speaking, how frequently you are speaking and your other phone behaviors. Scary, right?

A study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University revelead something more scarier. In this study, the researchers took a facial picture of selected subjects and instructed them to fill a questionnaire. During this brief period, they uploaded their facial pictures to a computer and used a facial recognition algorithm to match similar images on the internet. The researchers were able to identify and gather accurate information on 1 out of 3 before they could even complete their questionnaire. A similar technique was used to match the image against government databases and they were able to pull sensitive information like SSN. What it means is, given a picture, someone with right tools can gather all information about you. It does not matter whether the picture was clicked at your party or uploaded by you to a photosharing website! Next time, think before you upload your photos!

As someone said, "Before the advent of the internet, it was cheaper to keep the information private but expensive to make it public. But, in the internet age, it is expensive to keep the information private but cheaper to make it public." Your privacy is compromised at turn of this information highway. How careful are you on this fast evolving identity crisis?

Know about the following behaviors which can compromise your privacy.

* Every site you visit, every search you perform are all stored on the servers (in addition to your local machine). With a subpoena, all the information can be collected from corporations like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and others.
* Many sites (especially shopping sites) drop a small file on to your computer called cookies. These cookies collects loads of information about you as your shopping preference, your age, your location and other personal details. This is the key for learning your behavior and should be deleted as soon as possible. Check your browser options to prevent cookie setting.
* Storing in cloud is a convenient feature in this multi-device world. But keep in mind that all these files can be snooped and subject to hacking. So, don't hide under clouds, it will one day rain on you!
* When signing up for Store cards and new web sites take time to read their fine prints. They are more prone to sell your personal data to other marketing companies. Don't be surprised if you get a call from South East Asia or South America!
* Don't get too excited when you see a public Wi-Fi. These are ideal locations to pilfer your confidential data.
* Your social networking sites are actively monitored by Corporate HR and any offensive posting can lead to a disciplinary action or a termination. So, be aware of what you post.

In this edition, we have picked contents to educate and entertain you about this rapidly growing problem - Internet Privacy, Safety and Security. Now, read, enjoy and share the magazine with your network!

  • In the Brain-tickler category:
    • "How well are you protected on the internet? Check how many myths you believe in ..."
  • In the Health Topic section:
    • "Internet in Healthcare and Security Aspects" - Upcoming trends in Healthcare
    • "Secure your seat belts, not germs!", Beware germophobes!
  • In the English Song category:
    • Listen to our English song Picks - Internet, Security theme !
    • Listen to the picked songs continuously with our Jukebox!
  • In the Seriously Funny section:
    • Watch the clip - "Watch your step, Security at work!"
    • Read the humor, "Press bell for security guard ..."
    • Read the humor quote, "If you see a blue screen, press any key to continue ... "
  • In the Surfboard section:
    • Read the story "I love my social networking sites !"
  • In the Tamil Picks section:
    • Enjoy the 10 Tamil songs picked out of 15+ songs for Internet, Computer and Security theme !
    • Enjoy the video picks continuously, on-demand in our new video channel.
    • Listen to the song picks continuously in Jukebox.
    • Read the tamil poem picks "Inaiya thalam"
  • In the Recipe Spot section:
    • Learn how to make "How to make your own frozen dinner?" at home.
  • Nuggets:
    • Enjoy our information nuggets on Internet Security, Privacy and Safety.
      - "Yes, your free internet email provider can snoop into your emails ... "- in Editor's desk section
      - "Protecting your phone data ...", "Travel Security ..." - in Health section
      - "Social media is not your 24 hour news channel ..." - in Surfboard section
      - "Identity theft ... Yes, it could happen to you!"- in Reader's footprint section
      - "Another website breached ... Time to change your password ..." - in Your feedback section
  • Get Inspired by watching the video, "Today's Internet is all about 'You'. This is true."

As always, we are very confident that you will enjoy our picks. Write your feedback about this issue by clicking on the email icon or feedback icon. We truly value your opinion, thoughts and time.

Editor's Desk Image credit:,

Yes, your free internet email provider can snoop into your mails ...


Yes. Your free internet email providers like Gmail, Yahoo mail and Hotmail can snoop into the content of your emails and email attachment. Have you ever took time to read the Terms of Service of these email providers. These terms will clearly state that they can scan your email for specific words which will then be used to display context-driven adverts or held back for a human review.

Recently, Indian government announced a policy that it will ban the use of Gmail, Yahoo and other free email services for government communication. It means the government requires another 50 crore to implement this infrastructure. No wonder, many governments across the world are happy to use Gmail and Yahoos inspite of snooping!

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