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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Gadget Proliferation & Privacy Risks

While many are closely watching the Google Vs Federal Govt issue & Google's decision to acceptchinese censorship, perhaps we overlook how even our personal data that we keep with us are sometimes vulnerable for others to potentially misuse. The venerable Bruce Schneier writes that it's now amazingly easy to lose an enormous amount of information. In the article that appears in the Wired magazine, he points twenty years ago, someone could break into an office and copy every customer file, every piece of correspondence etc. Today, all he has to do is steal a computer/portable backup drive or copy all data, and one would never know about it. With miniaturization and proliferation of small devices in this increasingly digital world, If anything, this problem has gotten worse. The digital devices have all gotten smaller, while at the same time they're carrying more and more sensitive information. The laptop could easily contain every e-mail sent and received over years, and may contain , an enormous amount of work-related documents, and all personal details. USB’s normally carry so much of backup data. Blackberry’s & Treo’s contain all email info, phone numbers and a detailed log of phone calls made/received. He offers two possible solutions:
- The first is to protect the data. Hard-disk encryption programs like PGP Disk allow encryption of individual files, folders or entire disk partitions. Several manufacturers market USB thumb drives with built-in encryption. Some PDA manufacturers are starting to add password protection - not as good as encryption, but at least it's something - to their devices, and there are some aftermarket PDA encryption programs.
- The second solution is to remotely delete the data if the device is lost. This is still a new idea, this may gain traction in the corporate market. Important aspects that end consumers should focus on and push the manufacturers/service providers to share.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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