general human tendency to have curiosity in the matters totally
irrelevant to them. And when it comes to the Internet, this
tendency always multifold. Have you ever felt that you’re being
monitored? Your computer usage in particular: by your parents or
employers or by some unidentified stranger. If your answer is yes
then you know how troublesome it is to part with one’s privacy. If
you say NO (Are you sure?), better be alert.
not a matter of concern to know that your associates: parents,
boss, government and law enforcing agencies included are all
preparing to poke into your inbox, browser and your computer? They
may have their own reasons for doing so but ultimately it’s your
privacy that’s being ransacked. And the above process is called
Snooping refers to the act of unauthorized access to others
database and personal information. It also covers the act of
parting with confidential information (such as customer’s data)
for the benefit of a third party.
its relatives-cyber stalking, cyber crime etc, snooping may not
have criminal impact or assault, but nevertheless loosing one’s
privacy can be equally disturbing.
are many reasons to poke and snoop around.
Curiosity - "hum... what is that IP?"
Security - "hum... why is that IP in my firewall logs?!"
programmers may have their own reasons "HUMM... Me? The 007
the office-“Is that man working for my company or chatting with
his girlfriend using office PC?”
Corporate intelligence-“At what rate my competitor is bidding so
that I can undercut his quotation?”
Whatever your cause, be prepared to answer questions if someone
traces your phone number from the IP you left on their logs...
Snooping in Office
employees protest against cyber snooping, but employers are firm
on their stand and justify their action. Would you be comfortable
if your company pries into your mail on the pretext of
more a secret, nor a surprise that companies have arrangements to
monitor their employee’s computer usage- particularly the
internet. The Internet has changed the cultural mindset of many.
At one time, indulging in office gossip at the canteen or the
smoking bay may have been the favorite passtime of office goers.
Today, chatting online and browsing through the Net have become
the new favorite activity, eating into employee productivity.
Reason enough for employers to monitor the Internet access of
their employees. Many companies now impose a restriction on
Internet access or monitor Internet usage with the stated
objective of increasing productivity and work output.
from blocking sites, companies can also restrict certain services.
Protocols such as FTP or Socks, which are generally used for file
downloads and instant messaging, can be disabled. Some companies
use dedicated firewalls for this purpose. This may reduce the Net
congestion that takes place due to downloads or chatting, allowing
the employee to browse the web at the same time.
Employers snooping into an employee’s email are a rare case. In
most cases there’ll be some filtering software which automatically
blocks and sends back messages having certain key words such as
According to the Electronics Communication Privacy Act of US,
employees have limited privacy rights when it comes to official
mail. But various
organisations are fighting for privacy protection.
The police have to obtain warrants to tap telephone conversations
or steam open mail. Similar restrictions would be placed on
employers in relation to e-mails sent by their staff.
India, in spite of the new cyber law, there exists no law which
draws a line between privacy and security issues. As a result,
there are no rules for cyber snooping by companies. But to be on
the safer side, it is the company's obligation to verify all legal
aspects before getting into employee snooping.
course, for every site that's banned, there are ways to get around
Blocking sites may not solve the problem. Creating awareness about
the problems faced and instilling a balance between productivity
and entertainment seems a better option. Monitoring also raises
the issue of democratic decision making.
all, who decides what is good and what is bad? Open discussions
and debates on such issues are therefore considered more efficient
than blocking just about every site in sight.
the employee monitoring softwares:
SuperScout, CyberPredator, WinGuardian, IWarden, TaskGuard2000
Corporate spies come in many guises, but they all have one thing
in common: They want to use a company's secrets for competitive
Consider these 2 examples:
engineer regularly had lunch with a former boss now working for a
competitor, and he fancied himself a hero as he collected rewards
from management for gathering competitive intelligence. Little did
he know that the information he was giving up in return caused his
employer, formerly the market leader, to lose three major bids in
Immigrants from Eastern Europe who were working as scientists on
an American defense project kept getting unsolicited invitations
from their home countries to speak at seminars or serve as paid
consultants. The invitations appealed to them as scientists—they
wanted to share information about their work with peers. The
countries saw this kind of intelligence gathering as cheaper than
research and development.
most organizations don't have a means of tracking the loss of
proprietary information; they go on constantly hemorrhaging,
constantly losing market share. Gradually it takes the vitality
out of the organization because it's hard to invent and create
things faster than people are leaking it or stealing it. It might
be seen as, but can’t be ignored as “just bad luck in business”.
Fortunately, hanging onto proprietary information—whether it's a
trade secret or just a few strategic details that may seem
inconsequential—isn't just about luck. It's about understanding
the dark forces that are trying to get information from a company
and piece it together in a useful way. Some of these forces come
in the guise of "competitive intelligence" researchers who, in
theory anyway, are governed by a set of legal and ethical
guidelines carefully wrought by the Society of Competitive
Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Others are outright spies,
hired by competitors or even foreign governments, who'll stop at
nothing—bribes, thievery, a pressure-activated tape recorder
hidden in the CEO's chair and so on.
it's bad luck that adds up to billions of dollars each year for
U.S. businesses, according to a survey done by the American
Society for Industrial Security. The 138 companies that responded
to the September 2002 survey reported that the loss of proprietary
information, often in the form of research and development or
financial data, cost them at least $53 billion in 2001 alone.
out: the e-mail entering your inbox might be loaded with software
that lets marketers track your moves online, and you may not even
be aware that you've been bugged.
all Web sites plant bits of code called "cookies" on consumers'
hard drives for regular invigilation of Internet pages for
returning visitors and better target ads. Now, enhanced messages
that share the look and feel of Web pages are being used to
deliver the same bits of code through e-mail, in many cases
without regard for safeguards that have been developed to protect
consumer privacy on the Web.
cookies can’t be a serious threat to your privacy since they can
be barred. Some e-mail programs already include settings allowing
consumers to block cookies. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0, for
example, offers controls for cookies on the Web and via the
company's Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs. Turning on
the "prompt for cookies" setting can reveal the stunning extent of
the problem, unmasking unsolicited HTML e-mail messages that try
to lay down cookies on a hard drive.
you experienced this? You buy a mobile connection filling a form
containing your personal details. Within hours of activation of
your connection, the first person to call you on your mobile will
be none other than a salesman or insurance advisor or a marketing
representative. Ask him from where he got your number and he’ll
hang up. You need not wonder! It’s a part of “terms and
conditions” that your cell operator (or any other business firm
for that matter) insist that it’s entitled to use your personal
sure, some retailers are starting to refer to e-mail monitoring in
privacy policies. Amazon.com, for example, mentions that it may
use tracking methods via e-mail to determine preferences for
future communications. Still, privacy advocates said e-mail
privacy practices are largely under-disclosed compared with other
media such as the Web.
For all the bluster about online privacy, most of us don't care
that much. Consider:
click-through rate of just .009 %( i.e. % of people going through
such as LLBean.com, Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch and
Bloomingdales.com tell you right up front that your data is given
to partners. And people buy things from them all the time.
About.com ranks as the seventh most popular Web site, logging 50
million visits in August. But only 20,550, or about .04%, clicked
on the company's privacy link.
us are not serious about online privacy. Mainly because it hasn’t
caused much damage compared to the impact of virus, cyber stalking
and other dangerous devils of the internet. But the irritation and
mental disturbance it can give can be equally severe.
importance of data privacy is growing. In the past, it was
possible to maintain reasonable control over who could view data
because access tended to be available only through individual
systems and applications with a known set of users. Rarely was
there a need to distinguish between those who could update data
and those who could view it, as they were usually be the same
people. As a result, security breaches were relatively rare.
advances in technology have brought about new problems. Data can
now be downloaded locally from spreadsheets and databases, various
middleware products can transfer data between applications or to
local datamarts, and data warehousing has made it possible to
assemble data accessible by many people in an organisation. In
most cases, these technologies were deployed without any thought
internet further extended the use of shared data through credit
card details and e-mail addresses, and increased the importance of
data privacy. Few people are happy at the idea of their e-mail
address being freely distributed and everyone who enters their
credit card details on the internet expects the information to be
held securely. Will it be? Is the question.
to data protection :
Destruction-physical destruction of vital information assets using
Disruption-electronic disruption using non-conventional weapons,
viz. EMP (electromagnetic pulse), DEW (directed energy weapons),
manipulation-computer viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious
interception-sniffers and other 'snooping' techniques to intercept
Chipping-malicious software embedded surreptitiously in systems.
Firewalls are what comes to one’s mind on the thought of security
but a firewall, however, is not impregnable. There isn't a
firewall that a group of experts can't get around, despite the
increasing sophistication of firewall defenses. In the eternal war
between hackers and defenders, the defenders have to be lucky all
the time, hackers just once.
past 3 years net service providers in the UK were obliged to carry
out surveillance of some customers' web habits on behalf of the
Controversial laws passed in 2000 oblige large communications
companies to install technology that allows one in 10,000 of their
customers to be watched. The
controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was passed in
October 2000 and gave law enforcement agencies sweeping powers to
snoop on the electronic lives of citizens.
simplest words it's the internet equivalent of a telephone tap. It also
demands that service providers start monitoring a customer within
24 hours of being told that the police or other investigation
agencies want to snoop on them. The
information gathered about what people look at on the web, the
content of e-mail messages and their phone conversations would be
passed to the police or a government monitoring station. The
bush administration in U.S also has similar law in force, with an
official purpose of monitoring terrorist activities. FBI (Federal
Bureau of Intelligence) has its own infamous Internet surveillance
program called Carnivore.
positive aspect of Snooping can be as an anti-terror panacea to
lawmakers, a way of increasing productivity for employers, and so
on. On the other hand it’ll also enable people to steal critical
information and data and spy out to name a few. It’s not possible
to eliminate snooping completely. It also doesn’t mean that you
stay helpless while being snooped. Everyone can protect themselves
to a considerable extent. All one needs to do is to adopt some
future of electronic communication now rides on striking a
workable balance between giving crime-fighting tools to the
government and privacy guarantees to netizens.