Sunday, October 2, 2011

Information Processing and Technology

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As the most expansive commodity in today’s society, the Internet reaches over 605.60 million people worldwide. Businesses around the world are taking advantage of this augmentation by moving their corporations onto the Internet, and reaping the beneficial productivity through advertising and services. While the demand for online services increases, the Internet is becoming available in forms that are readily accessible to the public, such as in the home, schools, businesses, through mobile phones, and Internet Cafes. However, while expansion on the Internet may be worthwhile for businesses, various issues and concerns are raised regarding individual and corporate privacy, data integrity and security systems. Issues concerning databases also include freedom of information and the ‘Big Brother’ concept, and how these affect the management of the websites.

One of the principal issues of concern is personal privacy of Internet users. User privacy is protection of information about users from uninvited and possibly illegal access. There are many current issues encompassing privacy, from the option to automatically sign out of Hotmail, to the protection of personal details on the web. A corporate concern about privacy may be protecting vital information from rival companies, however, protection of credit card and account details on the Internet is one of the largest individual concerns throughout the world. Websites that require personal information from a user such as name, address and credit card number, customarily protects this information from being viewed by other users, thus respecting the privacy of the user.

Ensuring that data has integrity is essential for companies. To access account details, personal information is gathered and entered into a database. Data integrity is the condition existing when data is unchanged from its source and has not been accidentally or maliciously modified, altered or destroyed. Problems with integrity can be encountered if information was originally entered incorrectly by the user. As they try to access the account, they may find that access is denied, as the database views them as the incorrect user. In this case, the data was accidentally changed due to human error, and as a result, the company instills security measures to insure the privacy of their account details. However, it can be frustrating for a legitimate user to be barred access to their information or systems due to a worker’s error. An example of this is when a misinterpretation occurred between the Internet company OptusNet, and a paid user. After the user registered for an account, the Optus worker incorrectly stored the user’s password, therefore not allowing them to connect to the Internet. The issue of integrity is interrelated with security systems, as they detect problems with the data and therefore protect the privacy of the account.

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System's security - measures, controls and ensures confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information processed and stored by systems. A popular concern of people who purchase goods from the Internet, is that it is possible for hackers to intercept credit card details while they are being transferred. Large companies such as install security software used when sending credit card details, and apply secure socket layer encryption for the data. Unfortunately, no commercially deployed method of information transfer of the Internet or electronic data storage is know to be 100% secure. Therefore, absolute security of information during transmission or storage cannot be guaranteed.

Freedom of information gives any user the right to access their information held in systems on the net. Although a person has the right to a view their information, complications may arise if there are problems with the data integrity. As stated previously, this results in the security systems restricting access to their information, as it is technically protecting the account.

A final world wide issue is Big Brother and no, I’m not talking about the tasteless Channel 10 show. The Big Brother issue concerns Governments that believe it would be beneficial to have access to a people’s private files to ensure they are not engaged in illegal activity on the Internet, such as downloading illicit pornography or copying and selling programs. As ‘swapping music files’ is unauthorized, governments want permission to track users who download mp’s illegally. However, the issue of privacy arises again, as Governments would have to breech policies to invade a user’s account and trace their activities. The Big Brother concept would contradict companies’ privacy policies, as most companies state that they do not give or sell any personal information. Therefore, if Big Brother was allowed to track users, this would effect the way companies develop their business, as it would clearly breech privacy issues that consumers are already concerned about.

As the Internet continues it’s inevitable path of dominance around the globe, many concerns and issues about privacy will continue to rise. Internet privacy will continue to decrease, especially if society allows Government tracking of files. Many rhetorical questions arise from these topics.

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