Rebecca Herold
The Privacy
Tip of the Month 
Is Your Privacy Up In The Air Or Down In The Dumps?

During this winter break, I had my two sons help me with a little experiment. We went "dumpster diving" (without actually handling the trash) to determine if local, regional and national organizations dispose of your personal information with care. We scouted office buildings, medical providers, retail and service centers, colleges, restaurants, pharmacies and banks. Here are the dirty details:  

· None of the dumpsters, or dumpster areas, were locked. 

· Most receptacles had their lids off.  

· We spied personal information in open dumpsters at a college and bank!


Dumpster Diving


While driving from location to location for dumpster diving, we were also "war driving" (what a day for Noah, 12 and Heath, 10!) to find unlocked wireless networks. It's a good thing we didn't have criminal intent because...   

  · Of 365 wireless access points (WAPs) we discovered, only 51% (153) were secured.  

· The most secure WAPs of those we checked were at the Wells Fargo campus, Costco and Walmart.   

· The worst WAP security was at strip mall businesses (restaurants, retail, personal services and banks) and in residential areas. My young sons could easily jump onto their networks.

If you want to know more about these activities, Noah and Heath will write a detailed summary about this in the Q1 issue of Protecting Information (http://www.privacyguidance.com/piqa-journal.html).   

Two men were recently accused of a crime spree in 20 communities throughout Michigan and Ohio, and GPS units guided them directly to their burglary locations. The pair apparently targeted shopping centers, broke into parked cars, stole GPS devices, then used the technology to direct themselves to the owners' homes, where they helped themselves to the goods. Add a garage door opener, and they were all set.

January 28 is international Data Privacy Day. Countries around the world, as well as schools close to home, are getting involved. I've got some exciting plans to commemorate the occasion myself! I'll be posting my plans to my blog this week. Want to learn more? Click here. 



Facebook Facts:

Are you on Facebook? If it seems to you that the whole world is, you're nearly right. With its over 300 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world's fourth largest (between the United States and Indonesia), but numbers are quickly rising, and it could soon rank as third.

With so much online, it's critical that you understand your exposure... and that this exposure is ever-changing. Here's a new development of which you should be aware, and how to address it:


An important privacy change to make in Facebook


Facebook will automatically index all your info on Google, which allows everyone in the ethernet universe to view it. To change this option, go to Settings --> Privacy Settings --> Search --> then UNCLICK the box that says "Allow indexing." While you are on that page, you may also want to change the "Facebook Search Results" to "Only Friends."


Don't take for granted that default settings protect your information on social networking sites, even if they are touted as "privacy" defaults. Explore your security and privacy options to make sure your posts aren't viewable to the world if you do not want them to be seen by everyone.

Have a happy and safe new year!
Rebecca Herold,

The Privacy Professor

To view October's tip, click here.
To view September's tip, click here.
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