As discussed in my previous post the internet has provided the avenue to not only allow individual nodes to network and speak their minds but to share information freely to all nodes (Benkler 2011). However, this freedom of information may be at the expense of privacy and security. The internet is built in a way that makes it cheaper to store data than to delete it (Sterne 2014). This is why hackers were able to allegedly distribute the usernames and passwords of Dropbox users last week and personal snapchats the week before.
Some users prefer data to be held in ‘walled gardens’ which offer protection from the open internet and come with the illusion of privacy and security (Zittrain 2008). These closed systems offer some comfort to users who feel safer within the ‘walled garden’ (Zittrain 2008). In reality, hackers are able to surpass these boundaries. A flaw was found in Amazon’s walled garden through the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ page which enables the hacker to access credit card details.
Hackers are also not stopped by the boundaries of nations. Hacking and cybercrime are global issues which makes them difficult to police. For example, the Syrian Electronic Army does not respect national borders (Fisher & Keller 2011). Despite their name, the Syrian Electronic Army targets opposition organisers within Syria and notably, media outlets outside Syria (Fisher & Keller 2011). Similarly, in the case of LulzSec, they had never met in real life (Arthur 2013). Some were based in the UK while others were based in the US and they were unaware of their true identities (Arthur 2013).
Often the intentions of cybercrime are less sinister than assumed. This is a reminder of the ‘playful’ value of some hackers who see the practice as a game. The intention of LulzSec was to “gain attention, embarrass website owners and ridicule safety measures” (Arthur 2013). But the potential of hackers to do more than the humorous is worrying.
The internet is not built with the intention of privacy but the freedom of information (Benkler 2011). So it might pay to check out some online tools such as Tor, Avast and Thunderbird, all of which will bring you one step closer to protecting your privacy.
Arthur, C 2013, ‘LulzSec: what they did, who they were and how they were caught’, Guardian, 17 May, viewed 18 October 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/16/lulzsec-hacking-fbi-jail>.
Benkler, Y 2011, ‘A free irresponsible press: Wikileaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate’, Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review, pp. 1-33, viewed 10 October 2014, < https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/245677/mod_resource/content/2/Benkler%2C%20Y.%20-%20A%20free%20irresponsible%20press.pdf>.
Fisher, M & Keller, J 2011, ‘Syria’s Digital Counter-Revolutionaries’, Atlantic, 31 August, viewed 18 October 2014, <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/08/syrias-digital-counter-revolutionaries/244382/>.
Sterne, J 2014, Is it cheaper to keep than delete?, ClickZ, weblog post, 10 April, 19 October 2014, < http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2339086/is-it-cheaper-to-keep-than-delete>.
Zittrain, J 2008, The future of the internet and how to stop it, Yale University Press, Massachusetts.