Monthly Archive: January 2011


Internet Security: The Hacker’s Dictionary

Don’t log on to any WiFi connection until you check out a new hacker’s dictionary that could help you prevent computer and Internet security attacks. Fast Company shares terms in the dictionary, such as “adger” and “spim,” among other terms, that are used by hackers who are “feared by many, glorified by some. Companies are formed with the sole intent of fighting them. Governments dedicate resources to protect against them and hunt them down. They are hackers, and some say they have the only thing keeping them from taking over our digital world is lack of organization. For now.”

Warrant-less Laptop Seizures Questioned

According to an article on, the American Civil Liberties Union says thousands of people have been subjected to electronic device searches at the U.S. border, all without a search warrant. The article also includes an 8-minute audio interview with California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who has introduced H.R. 216 to make rules about such searches of personal computers and electronic devices. As the Salon post points out: “Seizing someone’s laptop, digging through it, recording it all, storing the data somewhere, and then distributing it to various agencies is about the most invasive, privacy-destroying measure imaginable. A laptop and its equivalents reveal whom you talk to, what you say, what you read, what you write, what you view, what you think, and virtually everything else about your life.”


In Plain English: The ‘Who, What, When, Where, Why’ on Foursquare’s Privacy Policy

Foursquare is, by all accounts, the prom queen among social media apps: the service is fun and sociable, universally adored, and instantly likeable. But have you ever wondered about the risks in using Foursquare? Have you ever read its privacy policy? Read on to learn, in plain English, just what the privacy policy means for you.

Unknown Number of Identity Thefts Possible After Pentagon’s Credit Union Hacked

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union has warned its customers — including more than one million military members and others who work in government agencies — about a security breach involving names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit and debit card numbers. According to The Washington Post, “an employee might have unwittingly made [a] laptop vulnerable to attack: Laptops can be easy targets for hackers because they’re portable and used by many people on multiple computer servers.” The full extent of the breach may not be known for some time, but the credit union has reissued credit and debit cards and offered two free years on a credit-protection software program.

Data Protection: Filing Taxes — Yes, There’s An App for That!

Do you trust your mobile phone to handle something as complex as filing your taxes? The New York Times reports that the creator of TurboTax software has created a smartphone application to allow users to file, for $15 each, the basic 1040EZ by photographing their W-2 form.The problem may be that “SnapTax offers the possibility of doing taxes in “atypical locations” which could mean users’ online privacy may be compromised if taxes are filed via an insecure network.

Man Admits Using Facebook to Hack Women’s Email Accounts, Share Personal Photos

A California man has admitted to hijacking the passwords of many women’s Facebook accounts, scanning the victims’ sent folders for compromising photographs, then posting those photos on their profile and/or sending the photos to the victims’ email list. The Washington Post reports that one victim told authorities the intrusion felt like “virtual rape,” and “Facebook should have caught his activities more quickly.”

commerce department

Identity Theft: Privacy Concerns Fly As Commerce Department Plans to Create Internet IDs

The U.S. Commerce Department has announced plans to give each American a unique Internet ID in an effort to stem cybercrime and identity fraud. However, some question whether a group whose purpose is to oversee how Americans buy, sell, and trade goods is the best choice for assigning these Internet IDs.

Canadian Accuses Airport of Wifi Privacy Abuse

A frequent traveler has challenged the WiFi log-in requirements at Calgary International Airport and said he will not use the airport’s WiFi until the policy changes. According to Canada’s CBC News, one of the log-in options connects through Facebook, but “users hooking up through Facebook must agree to provide access to the personal information on their Facebook accounts,” which potentially could be shared with third parties and others who may violate consumer’s computer privacy rights.

Wifi Withdrawal Can Be Scary

If you’re a millennial, connecting to WiFi is more important than coffee, TV and who knows what else. What are you willing to do to get connected?

McDonald’s Accused of Homophobia in Wifi Service

McDonald’s has been accused of homophobia in New Zealand, where — as part of offering free WiFi to its customers — it blocked content to most gay news outlets and similar content-rich websites. According to The Advocate, the fast-food chain has since backtracked a bit, now allowing access to more news sites.