Wired News lists ten famous privacy violations, pegging them to AOL's recent release of 500,000 users' search records. The incidents are impressive — the laptop theft that threatened the information of 25 million U.S. veterans, the murder facilitated by an Internet investigation firm — but they shouldn't overshadow three privacy fiascos that could happen any day now:
- Coffeehouse peeping Tom: The vast majority of public wifi points have no encryption. (How to tell: If you can log on from your cafe table without a password, you're vulnerable.) Anyone with a working knowledge of network-sniffing program Ethereal could read your IM conversations and catch any unsecured passwords you enter. Likelihood: Pretty damn likely. Turn on encryption in your IM client and only use SSH-secured logins on the Web.
- Rogue Googler run amok: Google would never reveal info the way AOL has, said CEO Eric Schmidt. Sure — assuming everyone at Google is playing by the rules. All it takes is one well-placed Superman III wannabe, and those records are exploited. Likelihood: Not very. What fresh-faced Google employee would ruin a career for a bit of fraud?
- The Etch-a-Sketch scam: Currently, this is only a known threat to Terry Semel. The Yahoo CEO reportedly stores his passwords on a label affixed to his laptop. Better keep that 14" security loophole under lock and key, Terry. Likelihood: Depends. Does Terry leave his laptop in the cafeteria when he uses the restroom?