CBS News report, photocopiers produced in the past few years have started to rely on hard drives for copying and scanning tasks. Medical records, social security numbers and that Dial-a-Joke bill you racked up aren't just reproduced, but stored indefinitely in the copier's bowels. It's a trivial task to remove that hard drive and extract all the potentially damning info within. It almost makes you wonder, what other sinister technology is storing more information than we care to share?
The marketplace that keeps on chargingRez. The classic rail shooter was one of the Dreamcast's coolest games, so I practically forced her to buy it through Xbox Live that evening. We used my credit card, because she didn't have one, and thought nothing more of it — until I was charged again, a few months later. As it turns out, my friend's Xbox stored my credit card information after purchasing Rez and decided to keep it there for future use. What I thought would be a one time purchase actually became her default payment option. Whoops.
You can't hide from FlashIncognito and Private Browsing modes are great ways to...uh, buy a surprise present for that special someone in your life, without leaving a trace of your purchase behind. When these modes are enabled, a browser no longer stores information such as browsing history or cached files, keeping your secret purchases safe. Well, almost safe, anyhow. It turns out that current versions of Adobe's Flash don't quite play nice with private browsing; even when the mode is activated, cookies, sites visited and other information is still logged by the Flash plug-in. Adobe has promised to make Flash 10.1 compliant with private browsing functionality, but until then, delete all that pesky personal info with this tool here.
Facebook: A targeted advertisers dreamas seriously as we thought. Recent changes and additions to the service have made it easier for third parties and developers to access our personal information, much of which we may not even be aware is shared. Interests, location, pictures and even friends may be potentially available to the public at large, and it's hard trying to wrap your head around the maze of privacy settings to keep things in check. Luckily, some intrepid coders have developed a tool to wrangle those privacy policies into submission. ReclaimPrivacy.org not only shows you what information has been made public, but restores your privacy in one fell swoop.
@Twitter: Here are my exact GPS coordinates for all to seePlease Rob Me. Using geo-tagged tweets from Foursquare, the site displayed a dynamic list of messages pointing to potentially empty homes, just waiting to be robbed. The entire website was in jest, of course, meant to "raise awareness about oversharing." And while Foursquare is one way Twitter users have unwittingly exposed themselves, there are other methods as well.
Apps like UberTwitter or Tweetie can also update your Twitter profile's stated location with your last known GPS coordinates. This is a lot less obvious than choosing to send a geo-tagged tweet, and can even update your location every time the application starts without you realizing it. Remember, it's more than just tweets that can betray your location, so use that GPS wisely.
Sniffing Wi-Fi routers for passwords and profitFinding that one, unsecured wireless access point can be the holy grail for a mobile warrior. It's far cheaper than using up your precious data plan, and oftentimes faster as well. But it can also be incredibly unsafe. As Google recently proved with their Streetview snafu, it's trivial for any passerby to sniff your unprotected wireless network, opening a window into your personal data. Messages, passwords and almost anything else can be intercepted with ease, with you being none the wiser. The key here is to avoid those sort of networks, or implement encryption whenever possible, lest your data fall into the wrong hands. Or, of course, you could just stick to good 'ol wired Ethernet.
What do you do to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes? Let us know!
Lead image via Flickr user chotda.