15 October 2009

Do you know where you are?

In the online world, privacy is surprisingly difficult to come by because once online, data becomes free game to anyone or anything that has access to it. In day to day life, very little thought is devoted to the fate of anything posted online such as where it goes and to a large degree, who can access it, generally due to the false assumption that in the online world, data solidly stays only where it has been posted. Even in my own experience, I find that Googling myself brings me to things I’ve shared online on sites I didn’t even know existed.

In my situation, there isn’t any particular problem, as everything I can find about me I have intentionally published in some form or another, be it on The Philosophy of Nate or elsewhere. However, having an idea of where other parts of my identity are floating around the Internet is much scarier, mainly because I have no idea where it may be, public or not. One of my email addresses, for example, has suddenly started re...

07 October 2009

Update to account compromises (2)

The issues with the exposed email accounts have been far more widespread than previously thought. As the investigation continues, it appears that accounts for Windows Live, Yahoo, Google, AOL, EarthLink, and Comcast have been affected. Details for the affected accounts were posted online but have been taken down by request of the affected sites.

However, it seems that if you have any of those services, you should not start to worry about your privacy. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft (Windows Live) have confirmed that all of the stolen accounts are real, but that they were compromised as a result of phishing attacks. This means that the account compromises were NOT resulting from internal security problems.

Security experts who are investigating say that the accounts were probably posted online NOT for data theft but instead to make a point to users about phishing attacks, which many people aren’t well aware of. The specific order (alphabetical, it wo...

06 October 2009

Windows Live Hotmail Accounts Compromised

It appears that thousands of Windows Live accounts have been compromised due to what Microsoft seems to think is a phishing scheme. To quote Microsoft’s description of the problem:

“[Over the weekend Microsoft learned that several thousand Windows Live Hotmail customers’ credentials were exposed on a third-party site due to a likely phishing scheme. Upon learning of the issue, we immediately requested that the credentials be removed and launched an investigation to determine the impact to customers. As part of that investigation, we determined that this was not a breach of internal Microsoft data and initiated our standard process of working to help customers regain control of their accounts.”]{#ctl00_MainContentPlaceholder_ctl01_ctl00_lblEntry}

It would appear that Microsoft has regained control of the compromised accounts and is working to help the affected owners of those accounts regain control. As far as my understanding ...

01 September 2009

Google's Global Downtime

Early today Google’s mail service, GMail, experienced some major downtime across the globe. GMail users who attempted to access their online inbox during the outage would recieve a 502 error- or in more complicated terms, “the upstream server and the gateway/proxy do not agree on the protocol for exchanging data” (1).

I use GMail as my primary mailbox online and route everything into it, so it affected me as much as all other users across the globe. It would seem that GMail was still accessable, although sporadically, through offline software via POP3 or IMAP (the web interface was unreachable). According to news articles, the outage affected Google internally in addition to all the annoyed users across the globe.

Those who pay for Google services such as GMail for their businesses recieve extensions of their service contracts to make up for Google’s rare downtime.

As with most major online or offline things, Twitter and other areas in the Blogosphere have...

21 August 2009

The Downsides to Mobile Life: Conclusions

As the Internet grows and more devices gain the ability to connect to it, our online presence grows. As mentioned in earlier posts in this series, there are significant downsides to being constantly connected or addicted to the Internet.

However, that’s not to say that it’s all bad or that we should turn to older means of communication (snail mail, anyone?). Being online has some distinct benefits providing one does not sit in front of their computer 24/7 or has a cell phone implanted in their molars ( so they don’t miss a single thing when not on a computer.

Being online everywhere opens up a whole new world of information, quite literally. Information about nearly anything (and anyone, as it would seem) is right at the fingertips of anyone with access to the Internet, whether that information is about something right next to them ...

14 August 2009

The Downsides to Mobile Life: Part 3- Health

As with seemingly anything, living constantly online with an MID (mobile Internet device) has effects on one’s health, and generally negative effects for that matter. From the skin to the mind, online life takes a toll. Much of the problems that arise are due to choices of the user, such as where and when they are ‘connected’.

Unlike some “theoretical problems” however, all the effects I have listed have been documented problems. What’s more, the desirable effects of being social and in contact with friends often don’t apply in the online world in the same way that they do with actual real-world face-to-face communications. It seems that being constantly online with an MID is more detrimental to one’s health than it is beneficial.

  • Being connected produces stress, especially in the area of work communications. Stress, as most know, is not good for one’s health, but we won’t get into that here.
  • Small screens produce eyestrain. Actually, most compu...
07 August 2009

The Downsides to Mobile Life: Part 2- Unescapable

Many workplaces now give out pagers and phones and similar to their employees, the idea being able to stay in touch with them while they’re outside of work (defeats the purpose of being out of work, doesn’t it?). Now it’s not possible to leave the dreaded work world, it goes wherever you go (the ‘dead zone’ seems to be becoming a person’s best friend!)

Staying connected via MIDs (mobile Internet devices) is very easy and makes life unavoidable. There’s no escaping the workplace, friends, family, or seemingly anything anymore as soon as one gains a mobile portal. Staying connected can be good, but it has its downsides:

  • Everything goes with you…that is, EVERYTHING
  • You’re on call 24/7 for, well, everything. Work is able to get in touch with you no matter where you go and for any reason. You know that forest you like to hike through? That could become your office someday.
  • You can’t escape who and what you may want to escape. There’s good ...
30 July 2009

The Downsides to Mobile Life: Part 1- Security

Mobile technology doesn’t only exist, it’s become life for an increasing number of people. Texting allows the online world to be extended beyond the computer, so one is always connected to friends and online. However, there are some downsides to this type of lifestyle that come in many forms and factor in a lot of different places. First and foremost is security.

In theory, mobile technology is more convenient and more secure than things that are connected to the Internet via a direct route, because they are much more difficult to infect with viruses and to hack (though be aware there are viruses for mobile phones and other devices out there). Each online account would be tied to a phone, and that’s carried on one’s person.

In practice, however, things don’t work quite like that, due to the simple fact of human nature.

  • Mobile devices are small (and getting smaller) and so are fairly easy to misplace. Online accounts tied to such a device are instan...
19 July 2009

Google Voice: Turn-ons and Hang-ups

Among the latest buzz on the Internet is Google Voice, Google’s newest service that’s still in the labs- Google Labs, to be exact. ( for more information). As of right now, the service is still invite-only and invites can be requested from Google. I recieved my invite recently and attached my cell phone to the service and am very satisfied as it comes with a lot of features that, in the opinion of a few friends of mine, should be features of cell phones by default (and to be honest I’m in agreement with them). I should add, however, that Google Voice does NOT replace a phone company as all it does is call-routing so don’t run out and cancel your current phone service.

The biggest turn-ons are some really great features with the service:

  • Ring scheduling. This feature allows a user to set rules of what times a specific phone is NOT allowed to ring (and if it’s ...

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