Do you trust your information is safe?

So just how safe is your information online? It’s a valid and common question for the average internet user and one that’s re-entered the news with upcoming the census. Every 5 years we each provide a descriptive account on our whereabouts, job, income and other various details in the way of the census. Since its compulsory, its either fill out the form or face heavy fines.

But this year marked the first the census would be conducted online and also the first time the ABS would keep the names and addresses collected (Berg 2016). While the ABS have ensured the identities will be kept separate from the census data, either tightly controlled settings or anonymised forms are needed to prevent identification (Marsh, Dale & Skinner 1994, p. 35) Understandably many Australians expressed scepticism over the security of their personal details, because really there is no absolute guarantee your information is 100 per cent safe (Berg 2016).

There are more than two billion internet users worldwide and each month the web increases by tens of millions of new users (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012, p. 10). The borders in electronic communications are non existent (Gori & Paparela 2006, p. 64), and as cyber space grows, so do the threats (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012, p. 10).

While seemingly obvious culprits like hackers pose a threat to your privacy, there is also the less obvious Government department employees. The Department of Human Services confirmed 63 incidents where staff gained unauthorised access to private information between July 2012 and March 2013 (The article is attached below).

So what makes the ABS employees any less likely to access your information? Author of The Dark Sides of the Internet Roland Heickeroe (2012, p. 78) confirms employees are one of the most serious threats, their motivation could be either financial or personal and most don’t understand the consequences of handing over information. Because essentially, access to information and the ability to use it are equivalent with power and control (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012).

Just the other day the abc.net.au published an online article titled Thousands of Australian computer log-ins up for sale on the dark web, written by Jake Sturmer. Its an interesting and compelling read that outlines just some of the threats to information.

References:

Berg, C 2016, ‘If you’re worried about privacy, you should worry about the 2016 census’, ABC News, 15 March 2016, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-15/berg-census-privacy-threat/7244744

Gori, U & Paparela 2006, Invisible Threats: financial and information technology and national security, Ios Press, Amsterdam

Heickero, R & Peterson, M 2012, The dark sides of the Internet: on cyber threats and information warfare, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

Marsh, C, Dale, A & Skinner, C 1994, “Safe Data versus Safe Settings: Access to Microdata from the British Census”, International Review, Vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 35-53.

Sturmer, J. (2016). Thousands of Australian computer log-ins up for sale on dark web. [online] ABC News. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-30/cyber-warfare-the-australian-organisations-targeted-by-hackers/7795656 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016].

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