Data Privacy & Security Service
Data Privacy and Security Service Digital Digest Fall 2017
There’s a new social media app called Sarahah that lets you send and receive comments from friends and strangers anonymously. The app draws from the contact list on your phone so that you can connect and send text messages to people without being identified. It was first developed to allow employees to share feedback with employers. The name Sarahah means loosely translates to honesty or frankly in Arabic. The cyberbullying poten- tial with this app is legion ( HuffPost ). Sarahah may be a contributor to the adolescent narcissism epidemic caused by social me- dia. Teenagers are preoccupied with themselves and social media gives them a forum for their preoccupation. Things like follower and likes provide endorphin like boosts to self- esteem. Add to this Sarahah’s anonymity and there is the potential for inappropriate re- marks that bring out the worst in people. Srivastava, a counsellor and psychotherapist, states: “At a time when educational institutions are trying to take strong action against ragging and bullying, there is a need to understand that in the online space as well, adoles- cents are targets of trolling and cyber-bullying. Youth need to be educated on the ways of using technology appropriately and positively. Educational institutes and parents must also invest time and energy in inculcating proper values to adolescents, making them realize that cruelty in the name of honesty (for that is what the word Sarahah means in Arabic!) or self-expression is just as hurtful as exercising excessive liberties under the garb of anonymi- ty. Responsibility of action needs to be taught. Parents and educators need to ensure not only that their child does not fall victim to cyberbullying, but also that they are not raising a bully themselves” ( Firstpost , ¶8).
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International hackers got into the networks of four Florida school districts two months before the U.S. presidential election. Before they were discovered, they spent three months looking at personally identifiable data. But what they were really looking for was a network back door where they could slip into other sensitive government systems, includ- ing voting systems.
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In this incidence, the hackers did not succeed. But the attempt exposed the vulnerabilities of the networks as well as the amount of PII data stores.
“If you’re trying to steal identities or cobble together identities, if you can get a person’s name, date of birth, home address, you’re starting to get a fairly complete record,” said Michael Kaiser, the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Think of the things school districts have — it’s more than many businesses” ( Miami Herald , ¶16).
“High school kids, almost all of them have a very clean slate when it comes to credit scor- ing. So they’re trying to gain access to a large volume of teenagers’ [information] that can help them down the road,” he said. “These guys have time. They’re willing to wait a year, two years before they can actually monetize that data” ( Miami Herald , ¶17). Monetizing stolen social security numbers can bring in bucks. On the dark web, a stolen Social Security number could sell for $25 to $35, multiply that by the number of students in a school and it adds up.
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