What Does the Internet Know About You?

July 25, 2006

privacyNo, really, what does it know? Does it know your name? Most likely if you have ever signed up for anything online. Does it know your email address? Most likely – for the same reason as it knows your name. In fact, if you use the Internet on a regular basis and maintain a blog the Internet probably knows just a little bit more about you than you realise.

For instance – take my name:

Sebastian Prooth

Who am I?

Well if you go to Google and you search for me you will find that I have about 25,000 results for my name. And since I am the only Sebastian Prooth on the planet, I know they are all results about me.

What kind of information is available about me from that Google search?

Why don’t you try it for yourselfHere

Just a short list of some what is available: Full name, email address, website address, associations both current and past, birth town, current town, photograph, voice print (what my voice sounds like) what internet browser I use, my eBay ID….you get the idea – a lot of information

A lot of information that I have put out there myself is at the hands of search engines like Google. Something I have done in the past is try to promote the blog and what I am doing online in podcasting, blogging, writing, etc.

When you take a step back and look at all the information that is available about you online to anybody with a finger to type – it can be quite un-nerving. Someone could start being “you” with your ID, with your name, email address etc.

In my quest for better personal information Internet security I have discovered that there is a need (that has already been established) for a new kind of identity. I heard Dick Hartd of Sxip Identity in an IT Conversations presentation about Identity 2.0. He explained what identity is, and how it needs to change to conform with the changing world of 100 personal website accounts with countless user-names and passwords. Not to mention all the different forms of ID you have ie; drivers license, passport, etc.

Experts always advise you to change your passwords on a regular basis, to help avoid someone figuring out your password. They are right and wrong at the same time. I have learned recently that standard encryption of 128bit is much stronger than I thought it was. Unless someone is watching you input your password on your keyboard, or recording your movements on a key logger, I don’t think you need to go changing your passwords every month. Find a good, complex password that is easy to you – both to type and remember. There is nothing worse than making a password too complex that you have to look it up every time to use it. If you do this, you will eventually become complacent and just tell the computer not to ask you or change the password to your pets name! Go HERE for advice creating a secure password.

While we are waiting for Identity 2.0 to take on full adoption – we (Internet users) must be extremely vigilant about the information that is online and available about us. I have recently culled Google for old accounts of mine that contain data that I am not watching etc and removed them. I fully recommend you go to accounts that you don’t use anymore and delete them, remove your personal information first, and delete the account.

I am not trying to scare anyone to thinking that someone is going to impersonate them just because they have more personal data online than others, but you do need to be aware that if you have profiles online, there will be people out there that know more about you than you do about them.


One Response to “What Does the Internet Know About You?”

  1. c.trinity Says:

    That’s why is good to use your real ID only if necessary.

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