Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Create anonymous accounts for certain sites

Ashley Madison disaster it's allover the news. A few hours ago Dailymail published an article detailing how 40000 woman on the site had only 6 email addresses. This is clear evidence of account forgery by the site owners and dishonesty to their legitimate users. According to the same source, the Ashley Madison site was using these accounts to generate fake conversations and the vast majority of the new users spoke with persons who didn't exist.
I know most users are prejudiced and say that the men and women on that site had it coming. Putting aside the site "theme", if we can call it that, the user's had all the right to their privacy and good business practices. If the same thing happened to a dating and not cheating site most of the public will disapprove these practices.
What I want to discuss using this example is how our privacy and trust is being disregarded by these companies and why the affected users must act. Ashley Madison users could opt out of the site, remove their account, but if they wanted their data completely removed they had to pay a fee. Most of them paid that fee and their data should have completely been erased, not anonymized or whatever. They paid for a service, which in honesty, should have been offered for free by the website. This service hasn't been delivered.

People should understand that if you want to use some services let's call them controversial we are responsible for our privacy.  You might say that's complicated, actually it's not. These are simple steps which assure a minimum of anonymity:
  • Create a new email address which can't identify you in anyway.
  • Use a new password for that email address, a password that you never use for that account.
  • Use virtual credit cards. Any large issuer has virtual credit cards which sole purpose is to protect your information. Some companies, besides offering a virtual serial number for the card, they also cloak the person's personal information. Some of these cards can be used with PayPal. You can create a PayPal account using the new email address you created and add the virtual credit card.
  • Use the new email address when creating an account and pay with virtual credit card.
The steps described above won't protect you  against NSA or something, but are enough to ensure your privacy when a data breach happens.

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