Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are you careful enough?

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, "Are you careful enough? Expert tells Utah cops everyone's vulnerable on the Web," highlighted the potential for exploitation of information available on the Internet. Reporting on the Utah Attorney General's Economic Crime Conference in Salt Lake City, Internet expert Linda Criddle reminded those present, "Every one of you . . . is a commodity. Somebody is willing to pay to know the color of your eyes."

Criddle described a family tree her own father posted online to display the fruits of his genealogical research. He took it down once she pointed out that "mother's maiden name" is a common security backup question for online accounts. That kind of personal information can give criminals access to financial accounts, help them select and profile potential victims, and even put users' friends and relatives at risk, Criddle said.

I have long been concerned about the level of personal information available on the web, and not in genealogy only, but also through social networking and the latest trend, family and personal blogs. Trying to stop it would be like the child with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the flood. The only real prevention rests with individuals rethinking what they put online and at what level of security.

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