Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are you careful enough?

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, "Are you careful enough? Expert tells Utah cops everyone's vulnerable on the Web," highlighted the potential for exploitation of information available on the Internet. Reporting on the Utah Attorney General's Economic Crime Conference in Salt Lake City, Internet expert Linda Criddle reminded those present, "Every one of you . . . is a commodity. Somebody is willing to pay to know the color of your eyes."

Criddle described a family tree her own father posted online to display the fruits of his genealogical research. He took it down once she pointed out that "mother's maiden name" is a common security backup question for online accounts. That kind of personal information can give criminals access to financial accounts, help them select and profile potential victims, and even put users' friends and relatives at risk, Criddle said.

I have long been concerned about the level of personal information available on the web, and not in genealogy only, but also through social networking and the latest trend, family and personal blogs. Trying to stop it would be like the child with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the flood. The only real prevention rests with individuals rethinking what they put online and at what level of security.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Update on Geni.com privacy issues

The GenWeekly Blog, dated January 16, "Yet another world family tree," expressed concerns about privacy issues relating to the new Geni.com web site. It would appear we are not the only ones concerned, as suggested by an article dated Feb. 18, "Click Here", noting a piece from the Wall Street Journal:"Geni has already raised privacy concerns over the level of personal information that can be published about a person, even without their permission. A Geni member can create entire profiles for relatives who don't visit the site, including their birth dates, education, phone number and photos." Apparently Geni.com has responded to the concern by limiting access, "To address those concerns, Geni is only allowing visitors to the site to see their own family trees." As new "social networks" come online with public zeal and the power of the internet behind them, we may need tamper our enthusiasm with a little caution when it comes to privacy.

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