By Martin Scott

This assignment is to help understand how privacy, security and etiquette can affect my online work and social environments.

1. What are “online communications”?

A. Online communications are people communicating with networked                computers.  This includes LAN, WAN and especially the Internet

2. What level of privacy can I expect in my online activity?

A. Very little to none.

3. Can online services track and record my activity?

A. Yes. See cookies discussion below.

4. What are Cookies?

A.  A cookie is a small bit of software sent from a website to a user’s web browser while the user is browsing a website.  Then the cookie is stored in the user’s web browser. When the user returns to the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie can be retrieved by the website to notify the website of the user’s previous activity.

Cookies can be used to compile records of viewers browsing histories.  They can also store passwords, credit card numbers, addresses and other information related to each specific user.

5. What are Web Bugs?

A. A web bug is any one of a number of techniques used to track who is reading a web page or email, when, and from what computer. They can also be used to see if an email was read or forwarded to someone else, or if a web page was copied to another website. The first web bugs were small images.

6. What is workplace monitoring?

A. Workplace monitoring is a practice that involves keeping an eye on activities and conditions in a workplace for health, security, and business reasons. There are a number of tools that can be used for this task and employers can use the information they collect in a variety of ways.

7. Can an online service access information stored in my computer without my knowledge?

A. Yes

8. Can hackers get into my computer?

A. Yes. Our security is only as good as our password.

9. What is spyware and how can I know if it’s on my computer?

A.  Spyware is software that self-installs on a computer, enabling information to be gathered covertly about a person’s Internet use, passwords, etc. Here are some signs that your computer might be infected with spyware:

1. You notice new toolbars, links, or favorites that you did not intentionally add to your web browser.

2. Your home page, mouse pointer, or search program changes unexpectedly.

3. You type the address of a specific website into your web browser, but you are taken to a completely unrelated website.

4. You see pop-up ads, even if your computer is not connected to the Internet.

5. Your computer suddenly starts running more slowly that it usually does. Not all computer performance problems are caused by spyware, of course, but spyware can cause a noticeable change in processing speed.

6. Sometimes your computer will show no symptoms, even if a spyware program is running. To help protect your privacy and your computer, we recommend that you run an  antispyware program at all times.

10. What can I do to protect my privacy in cyberspace?

A. Install a firewall, keep up to date definitions for anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Also do not install or click on items if you are not sure of the honesty of the person sending them or if the place they originate from can be trusted.

11. What is Encryption?

A. Encryption is the process of encoding messages (or information) in such a way that eavesdroppers or hackers cannot read it, but that authorized parties can.


12. How do programs such as PGP can protect your privacy?

            A. PGP stores both your public and secret keys in computer files called keyrings. But, it stores your secret key encrypted with conventional encryption. Your secret key will be protected with a pass phrase that you must specify every time you wish to use your secret key.  Hopefully, you will choose your pass phrase so that it will be easy for you, as a human being, to remember it.

13. What is Netiquette?

A.  Netiquette is the conduct that is socially acceptable in an online or digital situation.

Random notes:

In testing out a new diagnostic tool called Abine DNT+, noticed that Facebook has more than 200 “trackers” watching our internet activity.

Critics call this spying. Advertisers call it targeting. That’s how advertisers use Facebook to figure out when you’re pregnant.  (this last is not a worry for me)!

Protecting your activity is not just important because you want to avoid any tracking your ISP may employ, but more so because your private data can be compromised if you’re not careful. While it’s unlikely a hacker is going to steal your Facebook credentials—or anything else—while you’re signing in at Starbucks to update your status, when easily-preventable bad things happen you’re not going to be comforted by statistics

First things first, you should be using HTTPS. If a site offers HTTPS, just go to instead of just plain old http. If you want to make things even easier, you can just install the Firefox and Chrome extension HTTPS Everywhere and it’ll take care of the problem for you.