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Old Habits are Hard to Break

The Snowden/NSA story is a gift that keeps on giving to anyone who follows privacy and information security for a living – or a hobby. (You know who you are. You need help.)

And if you are in the business of providing simple, effective tools for helping regular folks do a better job maintaining their digital safety, the story has been a real boon to your marketing efforts as interest in things like anonymous search engines is skyrocketing.

I had a chance to chat with a reporter for the Waterbury Republican-American on the issue and shared some of my thoughts, including my belief that revelations of domestic surveillance should not come as a surprise to anyone, but serve as a vivid reminder that we all need to do a better job of practicing good digital hygiene. And, apparently, the media attention being given to the NSA story is having a positive effect. For now.

This recent post in the IAPP’s Privacy Perspectives blog gives a nice summary of the increased attention being given to privacy enhancing technologies (PET), but with some caution for anyone who thinks that switching their search from Google to DuckDuckGo is a lock for keeping sensitive data out of the reach of authorities.

I’ll be interested to see if interest in PETs (and, more to the point, adoption of PETs) is merely fleeting, or if concern over eavesdropping results in their sustained interest and use. If I were to guess, I’d say that, although there may be a measurable increase in the number of people who start using PETs, the spike described in Bracy’s article will quickly subside, even as the NSA story continues to unfold.

Old habits, after all, are hard to break.

Fact is, as my friends at the Ponemon Institute have found, too many people are complacent about their online privacy. As this editorial in the National Journal asserts, many will say they are concerned about their vulnerability online, but few will do anything about it.

You are not most people, though. You have the resolve to do what the average person will not. You will learn from the mistakes of others and seek out new ways and new tools that will enhance the security of your online experience. Right?

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