There Is No Such Thing as Digital Privacy Anymore

Sony just announced that they will not release the move “The Interview” on Christmas day.  This is a direct response to terrorist threats that have unfolded as the hack into the Sony network is revealed to be worse than originally thought.  Of the many problems with the hack, one of the most significant was the release of emails that were thought to be private.

Hackers have published private emails from Sony employees.

Hackers have published private, nude pictures of celebrities from iCloud.

Hackers have published private snaps from Snapchat, a service that is built around the very idea that everything is private and disappears.

Hackers have stolen credit card information from Home Depot and many, many other retail establishments.

Do you finally understand? Can you finally come to terms with the fact that digital privacy is a false premise? Here is the thing: if you type it, share it, pic it, private message it, snap it or record it on or send it to any device anywhere in the world that has an internet connection, you are potentially at risk for having that information seen and shared by somebody.

Plenty of security analysts will fight on both sides of this (“There is no safe place!” “Our software is perfectly safe!”) but the fact remains that we are seeing more and more compromises of data.  I don’t want you to live in fear, but I do want you to live in awareness.  Know what apps do with your data by reading the terms of service and privacy policies (yes, they are boring, but read them anyway). Understand how your email is protected on your server and by your host (call them or email them if you don’t know how to research this) and for all that is good, do not, ever, take nude pictures with your phone, put them in Dropbox, Snap them or store them in any way that is internet connected unless you don’t care if somebody (or a lot of somebodies) sees them at some point.

Companies cannot always prevent the unforeseen data breaches, but we can take small steps to make sure that they don’t personally compromise us when they do happen.  Sony isn’t going to be the last story we read about hacking; in fact I think these scenarios are picking up steam. I can only hope that for every hack or intrusion, bigger and better security is conceived and put into place. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know what it doesn’t…digital privacy. Those days, my friends, are behind us.

A footnote: I don’t know what Sony should have done about this particular threat. Many are saying that by not showing the movie, the terrorists have won. Just one day after the horrible attack in Peshawar however, I’m not sure they made the wrong choice. I just don’t know. Sometimes things aren’t so black and white.

Photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy under use of Creative Commons.