Friday, August 10, 2012

Pay for Privacy

I read an article today about how a man's entire digital life was ruined in the space of an hour. He was hacked by some so called 'ethical' hackers who were making a point about different companies lax security procedures, namely apple and amazon. After reading it I went to my most important and connected online accounts and went direct to their security pages. There I was looking for security and privacy options that I could turn on.

First I enabled two-step verification for my email account. This means when I log on to a computer I have not used before I must type in a 6 digit code that is sent to my mobile before I can log in. The same procedure is also used when I forget my password. Extra hassle, yes. Peace of mind, more so.

However, certain companies only offered the best privacy and security settings for premium members.

Why should I have to pay for security? Surely it is in the companies' best interest to offer me their most secure of security features and their most powerful privacy tools for free? The paid extras should be things like more space, or the ability to upload lager files. I should not have to pay to stop hackers from accessing my files.

On Box.com, for example, if I wish to have encrypted storage I need to pay for an enterprise account. Why? Why should I have to pay for my files which I upload to their servers to be encrypted? Why should I have to pay for them to be encrypted if I transfer them to another person?

I just received an email from Prezi - a service I haven't used in years. It was advertising their premium account. Their biggest feature was the ability to make Prezis private. I should have that feature for free. I should not have to pay for it.

Sure, companies have more at stake if you are paying for their services, so perhaps they feel the security of paying customers is more important. Bull-shit!

I wouldn't expect NatWest to say to me, "Good afternoon, sir. Did you know for only £20 a month NatWest won't put a poster up with your bank account details? For an extra £5 a week you also have the option of having a PIN. Even better if you pay us just £2 a day we will let you have a strong password on your online banking account."

It just wouldn't happen. But, a service I use to store backups of my school work and writing wants me to pay for security. I know that a hacker isn't going to personally target my school work, but that doesn't mean I won't be collateral damage to one of these 'ethical' hackers. What if I needed the backup of my work, but Box was targeted by LulzSec (I think they have disbanded, though) or Anonymous? What if my account was chosen at random to be the the account they decided to showcase the security holes with? Am I expected to sit back and think, 'if only I'd paid premium prices'?

It is utter stupidity that companies would even consider charging for security. In a world that is ever more online it is damn time that company execs got their heads out of the clouds and into cloud security ... for free.

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