Thursday, December 3, 2020

Leaked photos, revenge porn linked to web safety

How safe is your personal information?

Recently, private photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton were stolen and released to the public by an anonymous Internet user, turning privacy into a topic of discussion among Internet and social media users and their media outlets.

On the night the photos were released, the number of people searching on Google for variations of “Jennifer Lawrence naked” and “J-Law pics” increased by 700,000 people, according to The Guardian.

This invasion of privacy is often called “revenge porn” when the subject is an average person, and called “leaked nude photos” when it’s a celebrity.

Revenge pornography is defined as “socially and emotionally damaging to its victims, and in cases where victims’ personal information is attached to the offending material, can be physically threatening,” according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Inc. The initiative also says that “Worst of all, the perpetrators distributing this material have the luxury of masking themselves behind a computer screen and are, in essence, protected by the lack of laws in place to combat this sort of activity.”

Technology gives us a number of photo sharing platforms with certain integrated privacy features like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and texting. These platforms are for us to use at our convenience, and allow us to instantly send messages and photos into cyberspace.

“If you want to use these online services like iCloud, you’re putting your trust in them to be safe, but slip-ups do happen. If you do have valuable information that you’re putting in the cloud or any other network, protect it heavily with strong passwords,” Associate Professor of Computer Science at Plattsburgh State, Delbert Hart, said.

Hackers use many different strategies to try and uncover information. One of the tools they use to acquire private passwords and personal information is the questionnaire. Questionnaires probe for the information that becomes their starting point to uncovering passwords.

Hart said another technique is a brute force attack on the user’s information that goes through every word in the dictionary until it matches the password.

The only states where it is completely illegal to share sexually explicit photos are California and New Jersey.

Thirteen other states have passed separate laws that prohibit some cases of revenge porn, according to the National Conference of State Legislature.

Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Kristen Isgro, said “it’s no longer an individual problem, it’s a societal problem about what is deemed private and what is deemed public, and that gets particularly muddled for some reason when you look at the media. It’s yet another form of women being shamed for their sexuality.”

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