Arsip Artikel Perpustakaan dan Buku Terbitan Indonesia Jakarta Post, 1 April 2001
The vital need to protect privacy on the Internet
By Mila Day
JAKARTA (JP): Ever recall giving away information that could be used to pry into your life? Maybe your wife gave birth in a well-known hospital and the next thing you knew she received a call from an insurance company to discuss your child’s life insurance.
Or perhaps when you subscribed to a health magazine you got junk mail offering high-calcium milk, or various other subscription opportunities?
Even worse still, you may have received a letter stating that you have won thousands of Australian dollars, but in the end it was just an invitation to gamble: send your money to a PO Box address and you could win the lotto jackpot!
As you already know, you have become a target. You are the captive market. No marketing spiel is ever created if it isn’t smart. Living in the digital era, you are captured in a world where anyone could easily identify you, find out where you live and how you lead your life.
Why should you worry about losing your privacy?
Privacy has only become a significant issue, to the majority of people, in recent years. In this digital world any form of data can be transferred as digital information. From your home address, telephone number, credit card number to birthdate. From how many phone calls you made today to what Web sites you log into and for how many hours. It is just statistics, though. Don’t worry, it won’t kill you. Well, for now at least.
Tautology of everything
There was a time when you would go to a library and manually search the catalogs. It sometimes could take hours to find the required book. After finding the catalog reference, you then had to decipher what was written in the catalog — and, of course, what was written in the book.
Today, at your fingertips, details about any book can be sent instantly to you. You are not wasting time looking for it, but instead on locating the most reliable and suitable info. Browsing the Net can be wearisome if you don’t know where to start. Sometimes you get lost in the jungle of information, or the blasphemous acts you may encounter. Yet, you are still wasting time.
Technically, there is an easy way, proving that the magic performed by computers has developed more than anyone could possibly imagine. Because all of the data is processed and stored digitally, on the Net you can save time by using a search engine. Type in the keyword and relevant data will appear on your monitor.
By going to a local search engine like yahoo.com.sg you can find out which Singaporean food stalls serve the cheapest meals. You can also search Indonesian sites with catcha.co.id to examine many interesting topics delivered by our fellow countrymen.
All of this is possible with the assistance of a large, high-speed data storage server. A data storage server may or may not be connected to other storage servers. One of the most utilized systems today is the storage area network (SAN).
SAN is a high-speed, special-purpose network that interconnects different types of data storage server with associated servers, on behalf of a larger network of users. Due to its extensive network of data servers it becomes an enormous worldwide electronic data bank. And it is getting bigger, better and faster every day. It is more accessible, too.
SAN contains five major elements: optic fiber cable networking; high accessibility; remote manageability; scalability; as well as software for network and information management, and applications.
The fiber networking the is hub, or center’s, interconnection via fiber cabling. Since the storage is centralized, the storage systems must be extremely reliable and highly accessible. This includes continued operation while undergoing servicing.
Ideally, the SAN is managed through LAN (local area network) and WAN (wide area network) ports which minimize operating failures and create easy accessibility.
Scalability relates to the ability of accommodating the ever-growing data residents within the network.
Finally, software must support both central or remote management over the network. Most of the leading application vendors, who create the application software, are supporting the SANs. There are no industry standards for application software, just make sure the storage subsystems and networking hardware are compatible.
With such organized data storage systems, imagine the potential wealth of information at your fingertips if you were working as a data-entry clerk in a hospital that is part of a worldwide computer network. For the heck of it, you search for information on anyone who has an incurable disease. Scrolling through the data in a Singapore branch you could discover that your next-door neighbor, or your most adored actress, has been hospitalized since last Monday with such a condition. You have never heard or seen this before. How would you react to the findings of your electronic eavesdropping? Would you feel sad? Would you immediately tell someone else? Or worse still, what if the dying person were you?
Eye of the Beholder
So what’s the problem? Privacy, or something you want to keep to yourself, must be highly respected. In commercial offices, such as hospitals, patients’ personal data is highly protected, with access prohibited to lower-ranked personnel. In government offices here in Indonesia, individual citizens’ data are not all stored on computer yet. But once it is stored electronically and easily accessible, anything could happen.
It has become obvious that the Internet has changed the way people store and access information. We must be alert to any potential intruder, in whatever form, who could disturb our lives. From junk mail to prank calls, to something you may not be able to imagine, your privacy is like a time bomb waiting to explode and shatter.
Privacy on the Internet is a major issue that can be divided into three primary concerns: what personal information is available to whom; whether messages or data can be transmitted without anyone else seeing them; or if and how one can send messages anonymously.
In order to control your personal information when communicating with people or companies on the Net, make sure you do not disclose all of your details. You might reveal the city and country you are logging in from, but choose to conceal your address and phone number.
There is no real need to conceal your date of birth, since marketers cannot send you a birthday greeting if they don’t know your address or phone number. Think about your other details that cannot be used to disturb your privacy, yet may be useful for the Web site to tabulate. After all, you might be getting free information from the site, so revealing a small amount of information about yourself might not hurt, and could support the site’s existence.
Another privacy issue over the Net relating to data storage concerns your personal mail, whether talk of business or even love. This information is yours alone to keep and read. The problem arises if your employer snoops around to see if you are involved in fishy business that could have implications on the company. Also, you wouldn’t like others reading and making fun of your electronic love letters.
Regarding how to send messages anonymously, comprehensive instructions exist at http://www.anonymizer.com. There, you can find this introduction: “With an Anonymous Surfing subscription, you have total privacy online. Nobody — from marketers to ID thieves to your coworkers — can see where you surf.”
Last of all, you could seek the protection through a Secure Tunneling subscription for $29.99 per three months. Stated on their site: “It creates a virtually impregnable tunnel from your computer to our servers.” To your servers, Sir? There is no privacy after all.