Posted: 24 Mar 2011 06:03 AM PDT
Everyone knows that it is important to use antivirus software. That browsing internet without one can be risky as your computer might get infected and someone might steal your data or even identity. A bit less people knows that it is quite useful to also use something called firewall. If their system has something like that as a default than they do have it, if not… well… chances for this extra bit are small. Now, when it comes to awareness of our data flow, we are talking disaster.
There is small group (well, maybe not that small but still it is not majority of users) who do realize that they need this third part of software to stay invisible. Most of the time these people use p2p networks, torrents and do know that it might not be that healthy for them to do it under their own IP address. They also know that best way to ensure no one knows what they are downloading/uploading and from/to whom is to encrypt their traffic. This allows them to stay hidden or access websites (with disguised IP from a different country) that are normally unavailable in their location.
But the truth is the majority of people who do not use torrents, do not try to access "geo blocked" websites even if told about the risks, that "the Internet is just not a trusted network" say: "Me? I do not need it. I only visit Facebook, send e-mails to friends… you know… normal stuff". Well, this does not matter. You are still at risk! You are always at risk and if you do not take care about it yourself than only you are to blame for trouble.
In recent days a lot of normal internet users (AT&T customers in this case but this might happen [and probably already did] to any ISP) who just wanted to access their accounts on Facebook did it but with a small detour of their unsecured data flow.
"Quietly this morning customers of AT&T browsing Facebook did so by way of China then Korea. Typically AT&T customers' data would have routed over the AT&T network directly to Facebook's network provider but due to a routing mistake their private data went first to Chinanet then via Chinanet to SK Broadband in South Korea, then to Facebook. This means that anything you looked at via Facebook without encryption was exposed to anyone operating Chinanet, which has a very suspect Modus operandi.
This morning's route to Facebook from AT&T:
Current route to Facebook via AT&T:
What could have happened with your data? Most likely absolutely nothing. Yet, China is well known for it's harmful networking practices by limiting network functionality and spying on its users, and when your data is flowing over their network, your data could be treated as any Chineese citizens'. Does that include capturing your session ID information, personal information, emails, photos, chat conversations, mappings to your friends and family, etc? One could only speculate, however it's possible.
[Simply, we do not know what China will do with data of thousands of users, we do not know what kind of information you might have been sending in your wall posts, messages, etc. The point is you should not worry about it. Since all of us use antivirus software and we do not expect our ISP to take care of it, why do we expect ISP's and web sites (random) we visit to secure our data if we do not care about it?]
This brings up a lot of questions:
This happens all the time — the Internet is just not a trusted network.Yet, I prefer to know that when I am on AT&T's network, going to US located sites, my packets are not accidentally leaving the country and being subject to another nation's policies. I guess that's why you should not use Facebook in "bareback" mode and use HTTPS (SSL) any time you can."
This might happen to anyone, anywhere. What will be the outcome? Who knows? If big ISP's have problems and make mistakes like that what about millions of free Wi-Fi hotspots around the world? Are you sure it is always a good guy who provides the access to the internet? Are sure no one is trying to monitor the traffic and read send and received packages?
Try to use secure connections on any device you use to browse internet. Try to encrypt data flow, if your ISP will have a problem with monitoring your activity than so do the bad guys. Be extra careful about "free" services like VPN and proxy – remember, nothing is free! For servers like this someone has to pay… for equipment, traffic, etc…
Use well known, commercial VPN providers. They will hide your IP, encrypt your traffic and help you maintain high level of security and anonymity when you browse internet. Be smart.
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