Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Privacy: The many ways you are spied upon

Privacy Update

Back in October of 2008, I wrote Big Brother Listening to your Telephone.  I was shocked then at the access the government had to all our data.  Nothing prepared me for the article, "Crosshairs," in the recent Popular Mechanics Magazine (January 13).

We live in advanced society, connected by cell phones, text, email, chat, social networks.  However, I fear we have given away our privacy for convenience.

Avenues In and Out of Your Life


Banks and credit card companies routinely sell your shopping data to marketers.

Cable Companies

Cable companies are experimenting with tracking and targeted advertising using using cable boxes and game consoles already present in the home,


Cameras monitor cars from the outside but many cars have Internet connected telemetry systems on the inside that log location and driver behavior.

Modern license plate readers can process 1800 plates per minute and facial recognition systems such as the one used by the Pennsylvania justice network can automatically match faces from surveillance footage to mug shots in criminal databases.


Your personal computer can monitor your browsing habits, passwords, and banking information. A device called a keylogger can record every keystroke you make.  A webcam can spy on you.

With the access to the global positioning system satellites, it is now possible to locate any enabled devices to within 25 feet.


Of course,  there are hackers who mine the Internet for your personal information using keyloggers and other devices. Other hackers just steal it from the government and data databases 

Internet Service Providers

Online services provide a rich source of data for advertisers; weak password protection can also make personal online accounts prime targets.

Online Shopping

Online stores such as Amazon and Apple iTunes have made customer profiling part of their business strategy.

Smart Phones

Every time a mobile phone act assesses a cell tower, you leave a time coded trail of your movements.Smart phones have embedded GPS, our Internet connected, and run software. They allow location and behavior to be tracked through your cell service provider and by the applications you instal.

Social Networks

Social services such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter follow you everywhere there is a "like, "tweet" or other recommendation button.

Reasonable Steps to Become More Secure

I wish I could wrap this up with some sage advice.  However, we have given up the right to privacy, everywhere, including our homes.  There are a few things, which remain effective IF YOU KEEP THEM UPDATED.

1, You need to install virus, adware, malware, registry editor and an integrated solution like Norton 360, and set them to run periodically.  Turn on the Windows firewall.

2. Set your browser to empty your cookies and delete your cache EACH time the browser closes.

3. Memorize your passwords, change them periodically.

4. If possible, use web mail.  This will reduce the amount of viruses, adware and malware downloaded onto your machines.

Be careful out there..


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