TO live in a modern society is to walk the delicate tightrope between a need for security and the right to privacy. The events of September 11, 2001, might have made that tightrope thinner than ever, but the truth is that this tension between security and privacy has been with us a long time.
In fact, it has been there since at least the days of the founding of the United States when the founding fathers, recognizing the need for both security and privacy, wrote the Constitution, which established a powerful federal government but also added the Bill of Rights, which added protections against that very government, including the right to privacy.
In its zeal to provide for security, government at times treads on the right to privacy. But it's not only governments that invade people's right to privacy. Increasingly, so do private businessesso much so that Scot McNealy, CEO of the computing company Sun Microsystems, told a stunned assemblage, "You have no privacy, now get over it."
It's no surprise that the statement would come from the executive of a technology company because, increasingly, security and privacy issues play out on the Internet.
Most of the privacy threats of the last several years have come via the Internet. Spyware, hackers, snoopers, and people who break into private computers and networks are everywhere. Your every move online is tracked; your Internet service provider (ISP) might be forced to turn over records about your surfing to a law enforcement agency; even search sites such as Google track your online activity and may also have to turn over information about you.
This book is dedicated to examining security and privacy issues, in cyberspace as well as in the real world. It takes the basic point of view that there are no easy answers to how to balance the rights of privacy and security. Its purpose is to show you, in vivid, easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, the security dangers in today's world, as well as the threats to your privacy.
It seemed at times when writing this book that the day's news and headlines followed the book's outline. The book covers all the major security and privacy issues of our day. It shows you how controversial eavesdropping programs work, including those done by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA). It details how your credit card and identity can be stolen. It describes how hackers break in to networks, how spyware snoops on you when you use your computer, and how "zombie" networks spew spam and scams. It shows how terrorist-tracking systems work…and on the other end of the spectrum, how Paris Hilton's cell phone was hacked.
In short, this book is dedicated to the proposition that the more you know about security and privacy, the better you'll be able to make your own personal decisions about how to balance the two.