March 2021 Session

Digital Privacy & Online Security: What We Should Know

Originally live streamed on March 17th, 2021

Living in the year 2021 means that we spend much of that time online in some forum or another. It could be anything from the social media channels to buying products online to banking and tele-health. Even in the last 12 months, much of the schooling done by children is being done online. Are we taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves? Do the companies that we have entrusted with some of our most treasured memories have our best interest in mind, or have we been turned into the product that they can monetize? How much of our personal information is safe to put out in public via social media, etc.?

This month, our virtual session looks at the topic of Digital Privacy and Online Security. How concerned should we be about our privacy and security online? And if we are concerned, is there anything that we can do to better protect ourselves, and the people we communicate with online. Some experts believe that even the most diligent people who take security and privacy seriously, believe that it is a futile fight against too many entities. So what should we be worries about and what can we realistically do about it?

We are delighted to have three expert professionals to give us a better understanding of this topic and how we might adopt better digital habits to protect us. Our panel for March:

Nora Draper is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of New Hampshire. Nora’s research examines the political economic and sociocultural dimensions of media and technology industries and has been published in the International Journal of Communication, Critical Studies in Media Communication, the Journal of Broadcast & Electronic Media, Media Industries, Policy & Internet, Feminist Media Studies, and Surveillance & Society. Nora’s first book The Identity Trade: Selling Privacy and Reputation Online (NYU Press, 2019), examines how the companies across the consumer privacy industry have responded to and shaped public concerns regarding identity, reputation, and surveillance through the promotion of tools and services to enhance personal privacy online.

Azeddine Jakib is the Chief Technology Officer at Bredy Network Management Corporation in the Greater Boston Area. BNMC has been providing professional IT Solutions for businesses, as their trusted advisor, in and around Massachusetts and New York and across New England since 1988. He has a 35+ year history of working in the information technology and service industry. He oversees all technical aspects and technological resources for the purpose of clients growth and to establish a technological vision that leads the company’s technological development. His expertise is in cloud technologies, with a vast experience in System Security and Cyber technology, Storage Area Network (SAN), Servers and Network Architectures, Virtualization and cloud computing.

David Kotz is the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College. He previously served as Interim Provost, as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences, as the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies, and as Core Director in the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health. His research interests include security and privacy in smart homes, pervasive computing for healthcare, and wireless networks. He has published over 230 refereed papers, obtained $82m in grant funding, and mentored nearly 100 research students. He is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to India, a 2019 Visiting Professor at ETH Zürich, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his AB in Computer Science and Physics from Dartmouth in 1986, and his PhD in Computer Science from Duke University in 1991.

Some of the questions and issues discussed:

  • Do virtual private networks (VPNs) really work to protect us?
  • Many of us use facebook to share personal family information and photos. What are the real risks of doing this?
  • If we’ve been hacked or scammed, what actions should we take?
  • Managing personal information on the internet is not easy. How can we ‘scrub’ our personal data and how much effort does it take?
  • What are cookies? Are they harmful and should we accept them?
  • Most people understand that companies, such as, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are tracking us on the web? But who are the unseen Data Broker companies that are behind the scenes using this data?
  • We hear in the news about cities, companies and other municipalities being threatened by Malware and Ransomware. Should ordinary citizens of the Internet be concerned with these types of attacks? Follow-up question: What is the Differences between Malware and Ransomware?
  • This week Google announced the new Nest Smart Hub, and one of the features of it will be the ability to track sleep and breathing patterns during the night. Can you explain the health benefit vs privacy concern trade offs?
  • How safe are platforms like 1Password in preventing password security issues?
  • What do you think of the financial apps such as mint which offer one place to see and organize all your accounts, you need to give them access to your accounts.
  • What are potential long-term consequences we should be thinking about with advertisers using our personal data.
  • Are Apple products truly safe without antivirus software?
  • How Essential is antiviral software?
  • Do phone apps (like Whatsapp or tiktok) spying on us for foreign countries?