Here’s Looking At You

27th May, 2011

Following the hacking of the Sony Playstation Network, where personal information of up to 100m individuals was potentially compromised and the current debate on twitter and the super injunctions, issues of data protection and confidentiality are again a hot topic. Data protection and maintaining confidentiality are very important to us and we have stringent measures in place to protect both client and participant information.

Last week a colleague and I were discussing potential security implications of ‘cloud’ computing and storage of personal information on remote servers operated by other organisations. Part way though our conversation we typed our names into the ubiquitous Google search engine to see what would show up. Now my surname isn’t exactly commonplace and when coupled with my first name I wasn’t expecting many ‘hits’. So I was surprised to get over a 1,000 hits (and disappointed to discover than my name isn’t that unique after all!)

I’m cautious about what personal info I divulge so was re-assured that there was nothing to give me obvious cause for concern about the security of my personal information nor was there anything of an embarrassing nature. However, I was struck that some things concerning me were circulating in the public domain without my express knowledge and/or informed consent. For me this simple exercise was a timely reminder of the ‘risks’ we all run when using the Internet or when providing our personal details to others. If nothing else this simple exercise reaffirmed the need to be cautious about what I divulge and to make sure that I don’t get caught in any potentially embarrassing situations.

When you’ve got a few minutes to spare why not try typing your own name into a search engine and see what info about you is floating in cyber space. Hopefully all you’ll find are innocuous snippets and possibly the odd embarrassing photo to laugh at. However, by doing a simple web search you may discover if anything ‘out there’ is a cause for genuine concern and if so you can take steps to sort it out.