In Your Corner: Privacy Under Attack?

By Ryan Elijah

February 11, 2011 Updated Feb 11, 2011 at 7:55 AM EST

We've never met John Smith from the Louisville area, but with one quick search, we had his wife's name, his address and even a picture of his home.

"it's scary to think that so much information is considered public domain, when it's all pulled together, it's a frightening picture", said John Kaufeld, Online Marketing Specialist at IPFW.

The websites are called aggregators. They collect information from various forms of public records, it could be anything from your Facebook posts to government databases to marketing surveys.

Eric Rupp is the owner of Summit Data Protection, he says the information has always been out there, but these new aggregating sites are finding ways to index "deep web" information, in simple terms it's info that is much more difficult to access because it's not linked. Rupp says you need to search your name, and be prepared for what you'll find.

"unfortunately, I think people should understand that there is a diminished level of privacy, the more they put things out there", said Rupp.

We found the home of Lebron James home in Miami, not that Lebron, but the famous Lebron's home and address was posted on a site before it was taken down. Even though some of my information was incorrect, I followed Lebron's lead and had it removed, but remember erasing something off the internet is virtually impossible.

"you may remove your information from one site, but it's still actually cached on Google for some time",said Eric Rupp.

Selling personal information is big business, some tips to fight back include, watching for virus warnings that collect info, use different email accounts...and be wary of open wifi areas. Social media and Facebook have become cash cows for these aggregating sites, assume everything you post can't be taken back and check your privacy settings. The site is rolling out a new secure connection, you'll see "an s" at the end of http in the url address.

"it's still being rolled out now, so not everyone may have access to it, but it's a setting that people have to turn on. If they do a search on Google for Facebook Settings HTTPS, as in secure, they'll find the instructions they need to use it." said John Kaufeld.

A number of security experts have said if laws aren't created to better shield publicly available data, then we could soon have a generation in which people have very little expectation of privacy. Their biggest concern is that once these sites have this information, there isn't a way to get it back.




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