Privacy tips for social networking, apps and geolocation
by Andrew Wild - CSO at Qualys - Tuesday, 29 January 2013.
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With the explosive growth in the number of applications available, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of them have been discovered to have software defects that have unintended consequences in regard to privacy. Here is a case in point: a recent popular mobile application “Crazy Blind Date”, coordinates blind dates: “Pick a time, pick a place, we find you a blind date”, and claims to keep your personal contact information, such as your phone number and email address confidential. However, the Wall Street Journal discovered that due to a programming mistake, technically-inclined users of the service were able to access the profile information of other users (including birth date and email address). The developer of the application, OKCupid.com, promptly fixed the problem after being informed by the Wall Street Journal.

It is important to be aware that applications may have access to your privacy information, and that there is potential for unintentional disclosure of this information, either as a result of software defects, or improper configurations.

For individuals, the key points in regard to electronic data privacy are:
  • Understand the services and devices you’re using to make certain you know how your privacy data is, or isn’t, being shared electronically.
  • Take time to review the settings for the Internet services and devices you and your family members use.
  • Think about what information you are comfortable sharing, and the impact of the improper disclosure of the information you’ve shared.
Businesses and data privacy

Data privacy is not just a concern for individuals. Businesses must be aware, and comply with privacy laws. They must know what privacy data they collect from their customers, partners, suppliers and employees. They must have plans in place to manage and protect the privacy data. Organizations that use Internet technologies should have a data privacy policy, in which they explain what information they collect and how they will use it. Organizations that collect, process and store privacy information must ensure that their employees are properly trained to understand and comply with the organization's privacy policies.

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