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Is Your Privacy Protected on Web 2.0?


Guest post by Olan Ahern

After the crash of the dot com era in 2001, a fear broke out amongst the online community that the World Wide Web as we know it would crash. However, a revolution began; a multitude of new applications, websites and networks were created that rapidly grew across the web. The Web 2.0 era began. Author and online guru, Tim O ‘Reilly, coined the phrase “The harnessing of new information to bring people together”.

A number of budding tech savvy entrepreneurs took this on board and pushed Web 2.0 into a new era. At the pinnacle of this movement was Mark Zuckerberg creator of Facebook, he looked to create the ultimate user experience that allows users to share and communicate their information.

In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg defined a new “horizontal strategy”; he wants to make everything social where one can share information whether it is the web, mobile or any other devices. This amount of information across a multitude of platforms begs the question is or will anything be private on Web 2.0?

Almost everything now is available online; the social media boom and the development of two-way communication have made information available at the click of a button. To find your perfect job just look on LinkedIn, to communicate with your favourite sports star, tweet at them. However, one must reciprocate this information and share information to receive a response. Hence lies the problem, and has made social privacy somewhat non-existent.

Taking a look at corporate privacy, every computer system in the world now can be breached. The start of Web 2.0 was the catalyst for the technology age; where all business owners were encouraged to share and store information online. In turn increasing risk and taking away complete control of an organisations information and privacy.

The main factors contributing to this risk are error, negligence and cybercrime. These factors cost organisations millions of dollars each year. A report from Business week/Symantec depicts countries most affected. Taking six contributing factors into account, share of malicious computer activity, malicious code rank, spam zombies rank, phishing web site hosts rank, bot rank and attack origin, to substantiate its cybercrime ranking.


The other big problem is the rogue employees that may defame the business via blogs or use of social networking sites that can publish at will.

Just look at the WikiLeaks scandal. Julian Assange founder of WikiLeaks published classified information about the Afghanistan war and political corruption. Julian Assange published submissions and news leaks from anonymous news sources and whistle blowers.

The Wikileaks scandal highlights the ease at how information can be exposed. It’s important to understand how information is released and private documents are breached as this is just one extreme example, but computer systems are breached on a daily basis.

It’s important to look at the components of Web 2.0 to understand why privacy is such a problem.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is made up of three main components;

Rich Internet Application (RIA); means the experience from the desk top to the browser, for example the drag and drop function from the desktop. Programs like Flash and Ajax makeup RIA. Ajax used to create the user experience and provide multimedia platforms for video, games and other interactive content. Ajax combines HTML, JavaScript and CSS to build pages and obtain data from the server.

Service Orientated Architectures (SOA); is all about functionality, providing quality applications and mashups to the web by leveraging and intergrading information. This is extremely risky and has caused many security breaches.

The Social Web; The Social web encompasses how websites and software are designed and developed in order to support and foster social interaction. Cloud computing, social networking and virtualisation are bringing about new exposure to privacy issues to the fore.

The make-up of Web 2.0 and its components make it a dream world for a wide variety of theft and evasion of privacy, from hackers to social parasites there is ample opportunity to exploit and take advantage of individuals and organisations. The main reason for this is the infinite technology being developed and released on a daily basis, making it almost impossible to ensure privacy.

According to an FBI crime and security survey 71 per cent of American companies are endangering their financial stability by not having insurance that will cover internet liability.

Bio: Olan Ahern has a keen interest in Social Media and online issues, he works on behalf PTE Academic specialists in English tests.


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