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Privacy vs. Security

Ethical issues in IT.
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Privacy vs. Security

Postby damber on Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:23 pm

Information is an asset...
Knowledge is power...

yeh. try telling that to anyone who's had there identity stolen! ;-)

But... with all the information the world requires to simply function, our current immaturity in data security and privacy, and of course the ongoing security threats we hear about almost daily... where do we draw the line on privacy for individuals?

When is enough, enough ? It seems we have a balancing act going on at the moment between keeping our personal information private, and keeping our societies secure. When is it wrong for the government to inspect your private information? What about your employer ? Should they be allowed to do background checks ? What about bank account checks ? What about websites you visit ?

Where is the line drawn for people's privacy? Should we all just get everything out in the open and radically change our view of identity ?

What do you think ? Have you ever wondered if your Exchange Admin has been reading your private emails to your boss ?

I'd love to hear your views, and even horror stories if you have them :-)
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby SQLDenis on Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:09 pm

Have you ever wondered if your Exchange Admin has been reading your private emails to your boss ?


No, but I know that my boss has been reading it at my previous job
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby damber on Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:59 pm

yeh, I always have suspicions like that :-) though for work email I don't have much of an issue with that kind of thing, as it's communication on behalf of the company, so I always assume anyone can read any of it - at any time. I think if more discussions were held on forums, than via email , work would be a more honest and productive place - with things in the open, its easier to keep people focusing on the professional side of the conversation and also much easier to find stuff :-)
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby SQLDenis on Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:44 pm

Here is the kicker, there were 15 of us and we were all laid off and a couple of months later we emailed each other
Somehow someone included someone's old email address, to our surprise our old boss replied to this message and wasn't too pleased with the content in it :-0
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby Remou on Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:56 pm

Whether on not it is ethical to read mail depends on the motive, I think. Spying on employees cannot be ethical, but monitoring company resources can be. Is there a mind reader in the audience?
Stop quoting laws to us. We carry swords.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby damber on Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:04 pm

hey, watch out Remou.... the thought police are everywhere.... ;-)
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby traingamer on Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:38 pm

I was the email administrator (chief developer, IT manager, etc.) at a prior job.

There simply wasn't enough free time to read the emails to the boss.
But I had to review the messages caught in the filters and I saw some great stuff (and some highly inappropriate stuff, too).
The worst was a series of email messages from an employee to a previous girlfriend where he was harassing her via company email. We worked at a law firm and he not only harassed her, he claimed that it was all legal after his discussions with the partners at the law firm.
I was on the way to the one of the partners' office to have him fired when I heard that he'd already given his notice. I cut off his email and internet access for the remaining two days of his employment (out of deference to his sister, a highly respected long-term employee).

In hindsight, I should have had him fired anyway. :D
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby tarwn on Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:43 pm

Denis, when people are leaving we always re-direct their email to their boss or someone of their boss's choosing to ensure vital information from outside the company (customers, etc) or inside the comapny (other locaitons, out of touch PMs, etc) doesn't just disappear into the void :)

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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby SQLDenis on Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:51 pm

That is okay, as a matter of fact I believe the company owns that anyway. i don't personally care if they read my email since or not. For personal communications use a personal email instead, I always remember that story of the woman who had all her wedding junk on her PC, she got called into a meeting, told she was laid off and locked out of her PC. She couldn't get to her stuff anymore
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby macleod1021 on Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:44 pm

A few jobs ago, I was the IT admin and had to review emails caught in our filters as well. One day I was reviewing the caught ones, and discovered that 2 managers were have a discussion about me (because I refused to give them admin rights to the entire network). Well, their conversation got very racist and vulgar. I turned in my report and they decided to fire one of them.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby chrissie1 on Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:12 pm

In Belgium you are not allowed to look at the contents of your employees mails, unless there is reason to believe if it is illegal things. You can however check the amount and where they send their mails. It's called privacy and trust. If you don't trust your employees fire them.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby Chopstik on Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:52 am

I suspect that others can read my emails, but I figure that if my boss and co-workers haven't been fired for their actions yet, then I'm not in any serious trouble at the moment (so long as my job gets done). Another thing to consider is that, at least in some of my experiences, a lot of emails don't really get reviewed unless there are other factors leading them to suspect an issue or unless management is simply looking for a reason to get rid of someone. Bear in mind, of course, that I've worked for two large banks and there simply is not the staff to go through and review each one, either... The filters may work but you still have to have people to actually read them...
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby spoulson on Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:50 pm

There are certain lines of business that are sticklers for security by lack of privacy. Having worked for a bank the last 3+ years, I've experienced what the absence of Net Neutrality feels like. Even at orientation they hammer in the slogan "there is no expectation of privacy". The bank cannot allow any activity go to unmonitored. So, they track everything from emails, proxy server logs, desktop files and installed apps, phone conversations, to where and when you badge in and out. They do this to protect their's and their customer's assets and confidential information. We can't operate cell phones, cameras, USB flash drives. A plethora of web sites are blocked because they host webmail or file storage. All this so that in the off-chance you were to disseminate confidential customer information, they want to make sure they can catch you doing it.

For purposes of staying in business, this makes perfect sense. Remember the mishaps in 2006/2007 from Bank of America, Citizen's Bank, Veterans Affairs (VA), and some others? They let people put confidential data on laptops so that they can become lost or stolen. This could contain your information. Dumb.

On the down side, I feel like big brother is always watching. Tons of web sites I legitimately want to view are blocked. The email spam filter always seems to catch vendor emails because they think they can send me zipped up executables. Or, if you sent me an image with too much beige, it can get caught by the fleshtone filter. Usually, pictures of babies and wooden floors get snagged.

But anyway, the point is don't trade off security just because you want the freedom to slack off.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby SQLDenis on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:00 pm

spoulson , I agree with you. It all depends where you work...if you work for the NSA or Digg I would expect different moitoring
Back in 2000 I worked in Silicon Alley, we needed to figure out how to pop up a window when the user closed his browser. Our boss told us "Don't you visit porn sites? for the next 2 hours go look at porn sites and figure out how they do their porn storms" then copy that piece of code and notify the user that this will end their session
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby chrissie1 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:07 pm

SQLDenis wrote:Our boss told us "Don't you visit porn sites? for the next 2 hours go look at porn sites and figure out how they do their porn storms" then copy that piece of code and notify the user that this will end their session


I think I need to change jobs, I only get to see naked people when they are dead.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby damber on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:07 pm

So, what do you guys think about government access to your information ? What about centralised identity management, cross department access to information, etc (e.g. do you want the tax man having access to your criminal record) ?

And on a personal level, are you happy people knowing how much you earn ? or what illnesses you may have had ? Or what about how many partners you've had ? Or where you were each day of last week ? Or what food you like to eat? Or how often/much you drink ? Some of these latter ones might sound odd, but a lot of people would be worried about so much information about themsleves being available to complete strangers - especially with id theft being a big concern... but strangely many of us are all too happy to share this information via facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. Is that wrong ? Does it really matter ? When does it become a problem ?
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby chrissie1 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:21 pm

Privacy is very important to me. And for a good reason. Not only will organized crime use your identity to do less then desirable things with it but advertiser will also use it.

Let's look at Linkedin. I'm not very active on there and I don't have many contacts but none the less somebody found me on there to send me a job offer. And he keeps spamming me. No problem since I now told him spamming is against the law and he stopped doing that. I don't like to leave my details all over the place. But on the other hand you have to. Because sites like ours can't have just anybody posting anynomous things.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby spoulson on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:48 pm

From a personal standpoint (as opposed to as an employee within a company), I think there's nowhere near the privacy and security in place as there should be.

A company with access to the credit bureaus can pull reports on anyone instantaneously with your approval. Approval can be you just saying "OK" over the phone or clicking "I Accept" on a 10 page legal disclaimer. Not very explicit or easily tracked. This is your LIFE on paper and there's not even as much of a password on it!

What do companies do with your information after pulling it? They underwrite your loan, then... they could sell your information to somewhere and you ultimately get collected into some aggregator or spammed.

Then we have credit cards. Just having the credit card is enough to go spending with it. Signature validation is a joke. No one checks your ID (unless your signature panel got worn off). You might as well just carry the full amount of your available credit in your wallet.

It seems to me that the security around logging into Less Than Dot is stronger than any financial transaction I can make.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby SQLDenis on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:04 pm

spoulson wrote:No one checks your ID


I got asked for picture ID at a FootLocker in NYC once.....I told her "don't you see my picture on the Visa?"
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby macleod1021 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:07 pm

I agree that the financial industry is very lacking in security. Personally, I would rather have a scenario where your credit card it linked to a fingerprint or retinal scan. The only problem is that the businesses would have to provide this equipment. Well...that's not going to happen unless consumers push for it. The catch-22 here is that the moment consumers start thinking of it, someone will stand up and say something like "If the financial industry has your biometrics, they can do whatever they want!" and that will start a scare campaign that squashes it.

but...it's the world we live in :( I say we just come up with a piece of hardware that we can lo-jack everyone and plug them in to a WoW like world :)
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby spoulson on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:14 pm

The IT way of accomplishing credit card security would be a strong authentication method. Signature and photo ID are weak because both can be spoofed. If the infrastructured optionally allowed securely providing a password or security token or something, I would sign up.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby AlexCuse on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:22 pm

It's a tough nut to crack, this. Fingerprints would seem to be an improvement, but what then of doing business online? Would hackers find a way to steal and decrypt fingerprint images for their own use? I suppose this would be harder than stealing passwords, but its' never going to be perfect. In the meantime I'd like to see banks and creditors work together to create some kind of OpenID type of system, as I think with their combined resources they could come up with something much mroe secure and user-friendly. I realize this will never happen, but its nice to think about.

Why can't tbe bank just believe me that I have a million bucks in there ;)

spoulson wrote:It seems to me that the security around logging into Less Than Dot is stronger than any financial transaction I can make.


So people may be able to steal your credit cards, but at least they won't be able to impersonate you in the forums!

BTW you may want to sign up for sp0ulson, spou1son, and sp0u1son if this is something keeping you up at night :lol:
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby chrissie1 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:33 pm

fingerprint and retinal scans are far from perfect and easily misguided. Fast DNA scans are in the works but those are probably also prone to abuse depending on how you are planning on obtaining the DNA. So no Biometrics is not for the tomorrow.

A bit of trust and common sense usually go a lot further then all the security they are trying to inforce now. For one, make the penalty for fraud much higher and enforce it.
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby macleod1021 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:50 pm

LOL...I just had a flash back of Gattaca (sp?).

We could also do more on the moral side of it. If there was a better legal system...one that actually deter's crimes, then it would help temendously. It wouldn't get rid of crime, but would reduce it. A good example of this is drunk driving...it used to be if you were caught doing that, you were shunned by family, friends and community. So, people didn't do it. But, I'm just lamenting :) I wish it was back the way it was when I was a kid...and all we had to do was worry about drawing images of dinosaurs on our cave walls :)
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Re: Privacy vs. Security

Postby tomsa on Mon May 23, 2011 5:42 am

Privacy and Security, both of them are essential for me! I need more security! I can't jump into the dangers! ;)
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