Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Privacy and Exploits - 6

"..Robert Petrick searched for the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" on an Internet search engine before his wife died. More than two years after Janine Sutphen's body was discovered floating in a Raleigh lake, investigators continue to find new evidence on computers seized from Robert Petrick's home that prosecutors say support their arguments that Petrick killed his wife. The Google search was the latest in recently discovered evidence found on nearly a dozen computers seized from Petrick's home. Last week, a forensic investigator discovered that Petrick allegedly researched lake levels, water currents, boat ramps and access about Falls Lake just four days before he reported Sutphen missing on Jan. 22, 2003..."

This is a snippet of the reports of case that was solved in Durham NC. Read the complete story here

Moral of the story is - Crime dosnt pay for too long. And now Big Brother Google with its advanced tracking system, can help to find out almost anything and everything that you do on the Net.

Actually, this one was lucky one that made Googles day as a search engine, but it was an altogather different story for AOL, when a face was exposed for AOL Searcher no 4417749. The news was -

"..Buried in a list of 20 million Web search queries collected by AOL and recently released on the Internet is user No. 4417749. The number was assigned by the company to protect the searcher’s anonymity, but it was not much of a shield..."Click here to read the complete news

I guess, it just caught AOL pants down... :D

BTW, I suggest that after reading those articles, please take some time to read the privacy policy of Google - here, I mean its better to know all the rules and regulations once. After months of searching and experimenting, finally, the truth is out -

Google's immortal cookie:
Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number. An example of this cookie, which I found on my system is

This cookie makes it possible for Google to track my sites whatever I visit. And do you want to see what makes it possible for Google to do all this, then please click here.
Its the Google Urchin Analytic software, that tells Google all the nitty gritty details that it needs to know. Even Blogger, the site I am on right now makes use of this software..

2. Google records everything they can:
For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."

3. Google retains all data indefinitely:
Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.

4. Google won't say why they need this data:
Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.

5. Google hires spooks:
Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.

7. Google's cache copy is illegal:
Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a "noarchive" meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don't. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google's cache. The cache copy should be "opt-in" for webmasters, not "opt-out."

8. Google is not your friend:
By now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. Webmasters cannot avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming they want to increase traffic to their site. If they try to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, they may find themselves penalized by Google, and their traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time Google doesn't even answer email from webmasters.

9. Google is a privacy time bomb:
With 200 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved.

This is what online privacy means. Its just to remind that no matter how many proxies we use to hide, no matter how many cloaks we use, no matter how many ad blockers we use, the eyes of some big brother are always watching us..

I end this post with a question - Why dont we have a 'Trust policy' instead of privacy policy? Can anyone answer this??


Blogger Aimless wanderings said...

Geez..After reading this I'm asking myself if I shud still be using Google :(( Kya zarurat thi itni darawani post likhne ki :P

August 17, 2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Harshad Joshi said...

More will follow...

August 17, 2006 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article.
Really seems you have put in efforts in here.
Great, i'm impressed.

jparag2k @ yahoo . com

August 29, 2006 4:14 AM  
Blogger Harshad Joshi said...


Thank you.

August 29, 2006 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff. This is the way the borderless world protects itself!

November 10, 2006 9:04 PM  

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