Welcome to week 4 of my exploration of the digital landscape through Ryerson’s DMZ course CEID100. Each week I get my “Geek On” and learn about topics such as interoperability, big data and personal branding in a digital world. This week we have covered several topics around internet security and privacy. We covered everything from cookies to cyberstalking and this post in particular is about a FIrefox Add-on called Collusion.
To find out more about Firefox Add-ons watch this video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CmzvQnok9E
I was blown away by the fact that your web browser could be something more that a Google search engine, dictionary or access to people and information.
The assignment was simple.
1. Download the Add-On
2. Surf the web for 20 minutes while visiting all your favourite sites and social networks
3. Look at the Collusion and reflect
This add-on is a visual representation of cookies that your hard drive collects as you browse the internet. There are pro’s and con’s to cookies. Cookies can make a browsing session efficient by remembering information such as passwords and past searches; but cookies can also be placed on your computer by third party websites that you may not be aware of, that now have access to your information. See below for the Collusion graph of my 20 minute internet surf:
This web grows and moves with each new site you visit and identifies key information about who your information is being shared with as well as who is asking for it. I visited about 6 sites and in 20 minutes over 60 webpage servers had placed cookies on my hard drive and would be able to collect information and track activity.
Knowing about initiatives such a Do Not Track and changing your browser’s settings can help you take control of the information that you share online. This is extremely important when protecting your privacy. Due to the rapid growth of technology, we don’t always understand what happens to our information after we shop online, participate in forums and pay our bills and the government hasn’t reacted quickly enough to create laws to protect us.
No longer can we turn a blind eye to how the collection of our information through our online activity is contributing to big data. We are accustomed to creating passwords and cancelling our credit cards when we lose them so we need take responsibility and action so we can continue to learn and turn collusion into collaboration.