How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy with Free Software (Fosdick) (.pdf file)


Did you know that Windows secretly records all the web sites you've ever visited? And after you delete your Outlook emails and empty the Waste Basket, someone could still read your email?
And that Microsoft Word and Excel documents contain secret keys that uniquely identify you?

This guide explains these – and many other -- threats to your security and privacy when you use Windows computers. It describes these concerns in simple, non-technical terms. The goal is to provide information anyone can understand.


This guide also offers solutions: safe practices you can follow, and free programs you can install. Download links appear for the free programs as they are cited.

The Secure Transcript: Survey of U.S. Universities' Use of the SSN on Academic Transcripts (Titus)


Most universities have moved away from using students' Social Security Numbers as their Student ID, but because the SSN continues to be a convenient identification number, ancillary higher education organizations, such as lending institutions, continue to use the SSN as a universal identification number.  As a result, some universities which have otherwise discontinued using the SSN as a student ID, continue to print the student's SSN on academic transcripts and official documentation.

New Privacy Study Challenges Industry Assertions on the Cost of Protecting Consumers' Privacy


Privacy is an elusive, value-laden concept, and it is hard to reach consensus on a definition. In recent, self-serving studies, the business community seized upon this lack of clarity to distort debates about the true costs of privacy - costs to individuals, society and to the business community itself. These studies have led to a mainly one-sided public discussion of privacy, overstating the costs to businesses, ignoring the costs consumers incur to protect their privacy, and understating the benefits that privacy offers to commerce and to society.

Identity Theft: It Can Happen To You, But What's The Point of Reporting It? (Gladstone)


Crooks broke into our joint checking account and robbed us of approximately $1,500 last November. According to officials at the bank where we have our account, the debit card numbers on one of our bank cards was skimmed. What happens, they explained, is that thieves capture your information by attaching an electronic storage device to an automated teller machine (ATM) where your card is swiped.

Suing a Telemarketer: How I Spent My Summer Vacation


I am a federal government retiree who does occasional substitute teaching just for fun.  Basically, I don’t work during the summer.  Also, I hate telemarketers and feel that companies who buy and sell individuals’ personal information in order to solicit are despicable. So, what did I do on my summer vacation?  I sued a telemarketer!

When Background Checks Go Too Far: Screening Volunteer Master Gardeners


I was at a Maricopa County (Phoenix AZ) Master Gardeners meeting this evening (I am a Master Gardener volunteer) helping with applications for the next Master Gardener training course -- a 17 week training program to teach people in the Southwest how to garden and take care of their landscape plants here, plus a component of our internship program to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. 

The program is run by the University of Arizona. The University is now requiring background checks of applicants applying to take this course. The applicants are paying $275 to take the course and part of that fee also pays for their own background check.

Background Checks for Master Gardeners in Maricopa County.???!!! I am flabbergasted.

Phishing: A Real-Life Experiment with Troubling Results


Last week I received a Bank of America phishing email. Nothing out of the ordinary in that. If I have a spare moment, I usually look to see if the phishing site is still up, then do a DNS lookup and blast off an email to let the site owner know of the scam.

Well, last week's phishing was particularly sophisticated.

RV Full-timing and Privacy Protection (Dippel)


If you really want to go “underground” and avoid junk mailers, living in an RV can help you achieve almost invisible status. Once you live in an RV (and have sold your home), you will no longer be listed on a property tax web site, for all junk mailers to see and to come after you!  Further, you will no longer need accounts with utility companies, as RV parks provide the utilities.

Using Court Record Information for Marketing in the United States: It's Public Information, What's the Problem? (Gottlieb)


Your divorce was final last month and today you received a postcard from a local health club advertising a Ladies' Special membership. You have been thinking it is time for a "new you" and joining a health club would be a step in that direction. Is the postcard a coincidence, or good timing and smart marketing on the health club's part? It might not be a coincidence if you live in Ipswich, Massachusetts where the Probate and Family Court recently received a request from a local health club seeking the names and addresses of recently divorced women.

Why Patients Won't Understand Their HIPAA Privacy Notices (Hochhauser)


I downloaded and analyzed six HIPAA privacy notice examples and 31 HIPAA privacy notices. Using several readability tools, I found that they were written at 2nd-4th year college reading levels -- instead of in plain language as required by federal HIPAA regulations

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