Tag Archives: Personally identifiable information

What do marketing companies know about you?

Acxoim logo

Ever wonder what kind of information determines the ads you see or the offers you receive?

About The Data is a website launched by a leading marketing technology firm called the Acxiom Corporation that “…brings you answers to questions about the data that fuels marketing and helps ensure you see offers on things that mean the most to you and your family.

In a nutshell this website allows you to see and correct the data they hold about you.  More importantly they offer an option to ‘opt out’.

Whoever thought of the concept for this website was a genius, and here’s why.  

Acxoim sell your data and the more accurate that data is the more value it has.  What better way to improve the data than to give the product (that is you) the ability to improve the data directly in the name of “transparency”.  They improve their product for free while appearing to be the good guys.  Genius! 

For now I have decided to let them have wrong information – although it would be interesting to see what they say about my sex life based on some of the spam I receive.

Ultimately the only reason I would sign up (you have to give a lot of personal information to get in) would be to opt out.


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Filed under Online Security

How to Steal Passwords Saved in Google Chrome in 5 Simple Steps

passwordIf you use Chrome as your browser you should know that it’s surprisingly simple to access all of a person’s passwords saved in Google Chrome. Another surprise: Google’s well aware of this fact, and the company is not planning to do anything about it.

For the full story read : How to Steal Passwords Saved in Google Chrome in 5 Simple Steps | CIO Blogs.

This should be especially worrying considering how many people use the same password for almost all accounts, so even if you don’t use Chrome to store your bank account password you might still be showing more than you bargained for.

After reading the full article you might find yourself wanting to delete the passwords stored in Chrome or make sure that your PC is always locked when you leave it  (Windows key – L is a nice shortcut for that).  If you decided on the former then may I suggest using Lastpass as a more secure alternative to writing your passwords on post it notes.


Filed under Computers, Free Software, Online Security, Technology

What Can Employers Really See on a BYOD Smartphone or Tablet?

BYOD-PicBring Your Own Device (BYOD) started life as a cool thing – a way for people to use the technology they are most familiar with and love in the workplace.  But lately things seem are taking a turn for the worse.  Some companies are now requiring people to bring their own technology and considering these “tools of the trade”, much like carpenters and plumbers are expected to bring their own tools.  Of course this view doesn’t take into account that technology is very expensive and needs to be replaced often.

Nor does it take into account that those devices contain very personal details, something that certainly doesn’t happen with a hammer, and that raises the question of what can your employer see when they install their software on your machine?

Of course if you are using a company wi-fi in the office then they can see just about anything transmitted through that, so watch your activity on social media and use HTTPS connections when you can.

If you are using your own data plan then what they can see is much more restricted, however a company can see your wireless carrier, country, make and model, operating system version, battery level, phone number, location, storage use, corporate email and corporate data.  If you’re thinking of taking a ‘sick day’ and playing golf then you might want to leave the phone by your bed.

The company can also see the names of all the apps on the device, both personal and work-related. This visibility has led to some companies blacklisting apps on a BYOD smartphone or tablet. It’s important to note that a company cannot see the data within apps.

Finally it is important to realize is that employers cannot guarantee that no-one will look at your personal information in today’s litigious society.

Personal devices may be subject to search and review in the event of litigation that involves an employer , which can include any business information on the phone. It’s just like any other piece of evidence, document or computer that could be confiscated and looked at for evidence.

In such extreme cases, all data on a BYOD smartphone or tablet becomes fair game leaving you without your personal device and with a group of people who you don’t know nosing through your pictures and text messages.

Is it worth it?  The jury is still out.  Personally I love only having to carry one device but it still leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

via What Can Employers Really See on a BYOD Smartphone or Tablet? – CIO.com.

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Filed under Computers, Online Security, Technology

Lock your Smartphone or Risk Losing Everything

stolen-iphoneWhen my wife’s iPhone was stolen in Paris I was very happy that we had the ability to remotely lock and wipe it. But the fact that it wasn’t locked with PIN had me frantically changing email and bank account passwords at 5 in the morning.

Why the worry?

Most smartphones receive your email without the need to enter a password.  They also receive bank, PayPal and credit card statements and are used by these institutions as a place to confirm a password reset.  This information can be used to access your bank account, reset your password and, once that has happened you can kiss your money good bye.

And phone theft is on a steep climb.  In New York City, cellphone thefts make up more than half of all street crime, with iPhones being the most popular item.  In fact Infoworld has produced an interesting interactive map showing where cell phones are stolen in San Francisco which you can see here.

My early morning panic could have been significantly reduced with a simple PIN added to the phone.

pinI know having to enter a PIN is a pain but you don’t have to set it up to ask for the PIN every time – every 15 minutes is plenty.  That’s because the first thing most thieves do is to power down your phone so that you can’t track them.  When a phone is powered up again the PIN is requested even if it was last entered just a few minutes ago.

Other things you can do to keep your data safe include if your phone gets stolen include:

  • Don’t store a list of passwords, PINs or personally identifying information on your phone.  If you must (and let’s face it, it’s too tempting not to) then use an app that asks for a master password.
  • Set up the phone so that you can find, lock and wipe your phone remotely.  For the iPhone use the Find my iPhone service available through iCloud.  I found a similar one on the Google Play store called Where’s my Droid but haven’t used it myself.
  • Back up all of your data to a PC or the cloud.  I was able to have my wife’s new phone up and running in minutes with everything just as it was before she left because we had this.

If you’ve taken the right steps to protect yourself, losing your phone will be just an annoyance. But if you’ve failed to safeguard your phone with a password, backing up all your data and installing a program that can wipe the phones data remotely, you are setting yourself up for a seriously traumatic event.


Filed under Free Software, Online Security, Technology, Web Design