TANSTAAFL – “free” email accounts – oh really??

Going back in time for this one – due to recent article in Vancouver Sun and other places about a pending class-action suit (at least the plaintiff is asking for CA status) regarding the “mining” of information from emails sent to and from so-called “free” email accounts.

So let’s get off the privacy bit for a minute – how many people REALLY believe that these accounts are made available out of the goodness of the hearts (if any) of these corporations?? Same goes for E-Post by the way!

Remember – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Browsers, search engines and all of the other so-called “free-ware” comes with the price that we leave footprints in the sand – crumbs on the forest floor (a la Hansel and Gretel) or whatever. Those bits of information are pure gold to these companies.

They indicate our taste in everything from food to entertainment to clothes to our political beliefs to where we bank to what we read and watch to the news we choose to believe to x-rated websites we view – if you use an internet connection to do ANYTHING there is a trail to and from you to everywhere you go – and back. I hope no-one is really under any illusions to the contrary – and parents need to be VERY aware of their childrens’ usage. BTW, this also applies to texting on cell-phones, iPhones etc. – if it is electronic, there is a trace – just keep that in mind all the time.

All of these corporations sell the information they gleen from our wanderings to other businesses so they can target us with their advertising and also help (at least in theory) designing and creating new products and services.

So what can you do about it – short answer, virtually nothing! There are some commercially available software packages that promise browsing anonymity – but just think about that for a minute – too good to be true?? YES. Nothing can screen you or your on-line presence from someone or some entity that is determined to find out what we are doing on the world of floating electrons.

Another issue is wi-fi security. Unfortunately, many people with wireless/wi-fi connections in their homes leave their networks unprotected completed – no security – or use such simple passwords like password admin administrator etc. – believe it or not. As a fun exercise, take your wireless/wi-fi enabled laptop or notebook with you in your car. Drive around with your wireless/wi-fi radar enabled, and you will see lots of SECURED access points but also a high number of UNSECURED ones. Internet cafes are wonderful and convenient, but remember, you are in a public place using a public connection.

So how is this all about TANSTAAFL – part of the cost we pay, although not in terms of absolute cash, we pay by giving up some measure of privacy. You need to determine the value and worth of your privacy!

Pay Now or Pay Later: protecting customer data has to be a priority

By Terry Cutler

It is understood in the world of business moving forward without the Internet is an effective way to move backwards, and fall behind the competition who have already taken advantage of the Internet to market and sell their products and services.

It’s a logical move, one that seems easy enough. Create your site, reach out to your customer base and provide a way to pay online. It is fast and easy. It’s a bright light for decision makers who are making the leap in significant ways hoping to cash in.

Billions of dollars can be made.

There is a dark side, one that often surfaces when it is too late and one that is often overlooked. Welcome the unexpected scrupulous hacker to your business, and this person isn’t after your product; he’s hunting for your customer information such as credit card and banking information.

Billions of dollars can be lost.

And the hacker, often called a “black hat” knows something you don’t. Your business is cheap, or in the least do not have the funds when it comes to protecting customer data, and he knows more about your security and can worm and wiggle his way through your security system in ways you could never imagine.

Just how much of a threat is a hacker to a business?

The Ponemon Institute, considered the leading research center dedicated to privacy, data protection and information security, in March of 2011 demonstrated that costs to business being hacked in 2010 reached $214 per compromised record and averaged $7.2 million per data breach event. The costs included customer communication and legal costs, but the real cost is the loss of customer trust and the end of business.

http://www.ponemon.org/about-ponemon

In April of 2011, hackers exposed 93,000 Sony Corp. user accounts. The clean up bill to Sony is estimated to be $2 billion. Sony is also fighting 55 class action lawsuits related to the April breach. Sony’s insurers, Zurich American, are refusing to cover those costs.

http://www.digital-digest.com/news-63085-Insurer-Sues-Sony-Over-PSN-Hack.html

Sony apologized to its users and launched an identity theft protection program that includes a $1 million insurance policy per user. Is it too late? http://www.techspot.com/news/43675-sony-ceo-apologizes-for-hack-offers-free-id-theft-insurance.html

So how do CEOs protect their companies? What every CEO should know, in my next blog.