December 07, 2006
Secure Sockets Layer
Today while doing my online banking, I saw the word "SSL" at the bottom of the page, and being a curious person that I am, I went online to search for it. So here is a little bit of what I have learnt about it.
SSL is Secure Sockets Layer, and it provides another layer of security to internet users as to help prevent other people from tampering or doing all those bad stuff. It basically needs 2 different accesses: the public key that everyone can see, and the private one that only you can provide.
These are the 3 basic phases:
- algorhithm support
- public key encryption
- symmetric cypher
The cool thing is, many sites are SSL, and you can know when it's "https:" instead of "http". I became so much more aware of the sites I enter after I learnt about it. Well, now you'd feel a little more at ease if you see that little "s" behind.
December 06, 2006
I was wondering how secure is online shopping, because it can get pretty addictive. I used to go to the store to buy clothes because that's the fun of it, to try them on and to make that decision right on the spot... Walking around department stores... But I started buying online items especially from Victoria's Secret, because they offer crazy sales when you buy them in a bulk.
But they get addictive not only because they offer those sales, but once you buy them, they will keep sending you offers and other sales that entice you to buying more products from them. I love VS flannel pajamas - they are really comfortable, and their online store people NEVER fail to email me stuff about offers related to them. And this caught my attention: why do they keep sending me emails, and how do they know?
Today we learnt about how companies have our information and our spending habits, and I got scared because they have much more information about me than I would like them to have. I don't care if they have my home address because I keep moving in and out of apartments anyway, but the fact that they have my spending habits and other detail information will drive me crazy.
But I think it's okay as long as they keep these information to themselves. If they ended up selling my information to other companies, that will be VERY bad. That's unforgivable. That's violating my privacy right as an individual customer.
But the again, even if they were to sell my information to other companies, how would I know, until I start receiving weird emails and such? There are many instances when customers don't know what's going on at the other side, and I think that companies easily can take advantage of this to make more money for themselves.
So how is it possible for me to stay safe, even though I'm legally protected by laws and such? I don't think there's any one straight-cut path, and I don't think it's sensible to not do online shopping anymore just because of this. I guess it all comes down to the company's integrity and my (or the customers') alertness towards this matter.
December 03, 2006
Email Via Cellphone - Secure?
In Japan, for the older generation who are not familiar with computers, "emailing" pretty much means using the phone to message someone. You type in your message in your phone, and send it to another person's phone, or computer email. For example, if I have a cell phone, I will be able to send an email to your Umich webmail account. I don't know how that works, but it does, and I thought that it was pretty cool.
My friend who didn't have a phone will just use her computer to email her friend's phone before they were to meet up. It's definitely convenient. And I don't think there are extra charges for this function.
However, how safe is it to use an email account to send a message to a phone? After all, it's through internet connection and such. You know, when your friend was about to send you an email from her computer to your phone, if someone was actually hacking her computer, your phone information might be revealed. And these things are inevitable.
I'm not saying that it's dangerous to do that, but it's the "what if" that caught my attention. The hacker will be able to sell your information to sales marketer and other companies, and you might need to change your phone number in the end.
I don't know how much more secure the internet connection needs to be before you shouldn't use this function, and I think it's a problem in US because that function has just been introduced really recently, and who knows what might happen. It's new, and there's no complaints or bad things that happened yet, but I think those who are using this function should really be careful. After all, we're talking about internet security, who's constantly being abused everyday.