NotSoPrivate: The internet might know more about you than you think

How much of your identity is available online?

Do you know how much of your information is available online? Do you post on Facebook when you’re going out to eat? Does your website list your email address? Even if you don’t post your phone number on every site you visit, a new web service called “NotSoPrivate.net” may surprise you with just how much it knows.Writing for Business Insider, Dylan Love explained how one hacker taught him his information wasn’t as well guarded as he believed. It started with a 2:30 a.m. prank phone call from Roger Pincombe, who created NotSoPrivate at a Georgia hackathon.

“NotSoPrivate won first place,” Love wrote. “And if you take it for a test drive, you’ll see why – it works well. Entering nothing more than my Twitter username, the service correctly returned my phone number, personal email address, and other details I’d like to think were less accessible.”

Pincombe’s intentions were not malicious – he simply wanted to raise awareness about how much information is readily available online. The distressing thing is that NotSoPrivate doesn’t do anything that a persistent attacker couldn’t. The service collects information that is connected to user identities such as email addresses, Twitter handles and Facebook profiles. Despite the service’s effectiveness, Pincombe said it only took 24 hours to program and is most effective when using social media sites as a starting point. It doesn’t always find much information, especially on users who aren’t active on social networks, but a more dedicated hacker could spend the time to design a more robust program.

“NotSoPrivate.net lets users enter simple, seemingly harmless information like their email address, Twitter handle, or phone number,” the NotSoPrivate website states. “It then extrapolates that information, pulling from a variety of different sources, cross-referencing, and doing other interesting things, to present to the user a complete picture of their privacy situation … or lack thereof.”

The service loads data and refines in real time, allowing users to click on the information it provides to find out where it comes from. According to the service’s website, this allows users to take action and gain better control over their own privacy.

Are you careful with how much information you make available online? Have you ever been surprised by how much is out there?

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.