The Internet is a huge privacy crater.
And I found one more example today of how users’ desire for freebies coincides with business carelessness to users privacy.
Since SI blog is frequently the target of crazy people attempting to attack the site, I do random checks of IP addresses of readers.
When I was checking an IP address of one such anonymous reader a short while ago, I discovered that because of a privacy hole in a web site connected to a prominent Indian immigration attorney in the U.S. I could find the user name of that IP owner, name of his ISP, time and date of connection to the immigration services firm’s web sites, and number of connections he made.
Since I know the user name behind the IP address, I know he’s of Indian origin.
Obviously, the person behind the IP address is interested in immigration services.
Since the IP number is available, finding out the city is as easy as pie.
I am not disclosing the immigration attorney’s name because of uncertainty whether such disclosure will put me into legal jeopardy.
After all, we live in Kaliyug where no good deed goes unpunished. 😉
All I’ll say is that the Indian immigration attorney takes enormous pride in being a pioneer in leveraging the Internet to provide immigration services to Indians and others.
If you know the name of a person and his city, it may be possible to get more information about that person by associating their names with social media accounts. There is the assumption that user names are the real names of people accessing the immigration firm’s site.
Bottom line, there is considerable loss of privacy for the user.
In addition to providing information about the IP address I was searching for, the privacy hole on the Indian immigration attorney’s web site also yielded (on the same page) the IP addresses, user names and ISPs of other users (including the moderator) who accessed the web site on that day.
A look at the user names behind the IP addresses suggests that Indians account for a big chunk of visitors to the web site of the immigration firm.
In an age of rampant identity theft and deep concerns over loss of privacy, why a prominent Indian law firm is storing sensitive information about users in an unencrypted format, in a text file and making it all easily accessible via the Internet is a question that demands an answer.
Besides potentially falling into the hands of hackers with malafide intentions such information may also be accessed by authorities who can then correlate the information with other databases. Remember, the Obama administration has set a new record in deportations.