On Line Privacy Is Mere Illusion | WGLT

On Line Privacy Is Mere Illusion

Jan 17, 2017

Information Security Director Kevin Crouse (L) with worker and graduate student Seth Pheasant (R) in the WGLT Studios
Credit Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Be afraid. Be very afraid of losing your data.

If Presidential campaigns can't keep their computers secure, what hopes do the rest of us have?

Data privacy is an illusion now, according to the head of Illinois State University Information Security.

Kevin Crouse said it's estimated that up to three quarters of mobile phone apps are compromised, so people can unknowingly be downloading viruses.

Krause also said the internet of things means everything from toasters to TVs are vulnerable to hacking.
But, Crouse said this does not mean people should give up on trying to be secure.

"Making sure that they have a decent router at home with a good firewall. And that just like they do with their home computer virus protection make sure that they are keeping it updated and patched. There is a lot more user as technician now," said Crouse.

Trojans, worms, and viruses are also becoming less prevalent, though they are still out there.

ISU Information Security Worker and graduate student Seth Pheasant recounted an oddball virus he ran across.

"One virus would take all of the pictures and document files on your computer and replace them with a picture of a squid. That's all it did," said Pheasant.

Crouse said more often now, hackers infect web sites for e-commerce and redirect customers to sites that mimic the legitimate business so they can harvest credit card numbers.

Even legitimate technology presents hazards. Crouse recounted his daughter singing along to a song and having an Echo-Dot from Amazon order a c-d for her without prompting.

"We're just going to have to be more cautious in what we do. And I hate to say it, but privacy is kind of an illusion now," said Crouse.

Crouse said he recommends avoiding debit card use in most cases since it is hooked directly to your bank account.