Data Privacy Month: Is Online Privacy Possible?

dataprivacymonthData Privacy Month kicked off on January 28th, a day that is historically celebrated as Data Privacy Day. To get a sense what data privacy means to regular citizens, I interviewed Jeff Schiller, a long-time security technologist at MIT.

The information Jeff shared was somewhat sobering: privacy only goes as far as the level of protection you require. In other words, it really comes down to how much you care about your privacy and the risks you’re willing or unwilling to live with. But the situation isn’t hopeless. We reviewed some steps users can take right now to protect their privacy online.

Read the article online at IS&T News.

MIT has policies around protecting personal privacy. Review them here.

Data Privacy Day and Month

January 28th is Data Privacy Day, which celebrates the effort to protect the privacy of citizens. It also kicks off Data Privacy Month, sponsored by EDUCAUSE. To get involved and learn how you or your business area can take steps to safeguard privacy online, check out some of the free available resources.

Learn more about Data Privacy Day.

Target Reveals New Data on Breach

According to the latest reports from the Target Corporation, new details from the forensic investigation show that the attackers not only stole credit and debit card information, but also names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, impacting another 70 million individuals.

Perhaps it’s time for us to stop handing over our personal information to businesses, even with the assurances given that the information won’t be used and will be protected.

More about the data breach at Target is posted here.

Data Security for Online Classrooms

Online learning and classrooms are now a way of life. Many teachers are using online learning tools for their classes. But in this Internet age, we know that with these new technologies come additional risks, especially to our privacy.

In a NY Times article, Mr. Porterfield, a parent of elementary school students, who happens to also be an engineer at Cisco Systems, talks about how he did a bit of his own research when he heard that his kids’ teachers were using an online learning network. He found that the site did not encrypt user sessions using a standard encryption protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (or SSL for short).

SSL protects many sites, such as those for online banking and e-commerce. When logged in over an open (unencrypted) Wi-Fi network, SSL protects your personal information from snoopers.

Even if the information being shared on a site is not necessarily secret information, according to Mr. Porterfield, “There’s a lot of contextual information you could use to gain trust, to make yourself seem familiar to the child. As a parent, that’s the scariest thing.”

Learn more about protecting a child’s privacy. Take the Securing the Human course “Beyond Basics” that discusses the dangers children face when online. To access the course in the SAP Learning Center, you need an MIT certificate, and make sure the browser pop-up blocker is turned off.

Internet Wiretapping Explained

With the revelation of the Prism program, and with warrantless wiretapping being the topic of the day, there has been much confusion and speculation in the debates. This article from the Associated Press explains in clear terms what we know, and what it means for our data.

This article from ZD Net corrects some of the misleading stories in the mainstream media.

Today is National Data Privacy Day

January is Data Privacy Month and it culminates in Data Privacy Day, which is today, January 28th. The resolution for Data Privacy Day, when it was passed by the US House of Representatives, was to “raise awareness of data protection and privacy laws and of specific steps that can be taken to protect the privacy of personal information online.”

It is important that users are aware that if they are online, information about them is out there, in one form or another. Whether it is your web browsing history, which sites you subscribe to, your communications via the Internet or actual personal information (such as your name, address, age, etc), you have likely left behind snippets of information about yourself online.

Data Privacy Day promoters try to empower people to protect and control their digital footprint. Learn what you can by visiting the above links and educating yourself about the impact of digital data on your privacy.

Data Privacy Month: Are You Smarter Than Your Phone?

At Educause (, January is data privacy month, an annual effort to empower people to protect the privacy of their data and to control their digital footprint.

The month’s efforts lead up to Data Privacy Day, held every year on January 28th in several countries, including Canada and the United States.

Educause is hosting several free webinars throughout the month of January. The first one, “Are You Smarter Than Your Phone?” talks about how you should make use of your smartphone on campus:

January 9, 2013
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Details and registration (for free) are here