Technology

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Internet Users Continue to Engage in Unprotected Text

June 24, 2008 02:44 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Although encryption has proved effective as a means of protecting e-mails, data and personal information online, most Internet users have yet to catch on.

30-Second Summary

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Despite the ease and efficiency of e-mail encryption, most Internet users have yet to adopt the process, NPR reports.

Encryption software, which automatically scrambles the text of outgoing e-mails or data, highly increases security for its users.

The dangers of cyber-criminals have long been reported, but online privacy has become a greater concern for many Americans after a series of disclosures of the practices of Internet service providers and Web sites, coupled with the Bush administration’s controversial wiretapping program and reports of a new FBI e-mail surveillance program.

In some ways it’s the golden age of wiretapping,” said Ari Schwartz, at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties group in Washington, D.C that encourages e-mail encryption.

Encryption software may see a surge in users since the introduction of the FBI’s “Carnivore” software, which can easily tap civilian e-mail for criminal investigations. One encryption company, ChainMail, “has ‘re-branded’ its product as Antivore, to capitalize on the Carnivore, er, craze,” Wired magazine reports.

But a recent NPR story noted that citizens at large remain unfazed by government surveillance and civilian snoopers. One Internet user told NPR, “I mean it’s weird thinking that somebody can look at your private stuff, but it doesn't really bother me that much.”

Headline Link: Despite its efficiency, e-mail encryption largely unused

Background: Who’s reading your e-mail?

Opinion & Analysis: Encryption goes only so far

Reference: Encryption how-to, Internet security

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