back to article Engineer Doe thought people's private info 'might be useful'

This was the week when, in technology's ongoing mission to look like saving the world is its number one priority and all that money stuff is just incidental, Facebook launched its option to let the world know that you're an organ donor. The social network's "life-saving initiative" slots into your Timeline's health-relate life …


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  1. JimmyPage Silver badge

    RE: Apple security questions ...

    don't tell me some people there actually *use* their "mothers maiden name" ? Unless anyone could guess my MMN was "expialidocious" they'd fail to break into my accounts.

    1. Big O

      Re: RE: Apple security questions ...

      Ah but now we do know Mr Page!

      1. DJV Silver badge

        @Big O

        You forgot to add "Bwahahahaha!"

        1. Big O

          Re: @Big O

          Damn, sorry - long day!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In which city were you first kissed?"

    <Brave pills, AC hat, battlements, friday foolishness, duck>

    Not a question likey to be widely meaningful in the Linux community?

    </Brave pills /AC hat /battlements /friday foolishness /duck>

    1. Jeebus

      Or the Apple community, there isn't any time for romance with all the Baristing going on. Not that there would be anyway.

      1. Bill Fresher

        People are working on it...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Many A True Word Spoken in Jest

      Nearly choked on my cheese on toast when I read that. Good one.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is it necessary to rub it in? We have feelings too even if no-one has feelings for us ...

    4. Mephistro

      "</Brave pills /AC hat /battlements /friday foolishness /duck>"


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "</Brave pills /AC hat /battlements /friday foolishness /duck>"

        1) Sacrificial offering - the only thing that vaguely resembles a penguin that's easily to hand

        2) Crouching posture designed to take shelter from abuse / projectiles / penguin shit

        3) A noteworthy foodstuff, which when suitably roasted is excellent when one is feeling peckish... (I thought there'd be more flames than that around, so it's going to have to be cooked medium-rare at most). Much tastier than penguins.

        4) A duck was one of the more successful projectiles used by the French when defending the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Fetchez la vache, etc. etc. I couldn't help but notice that they didn't use a penguin.

        5) A duck's quack doesn't echo. Presumably a duck doesn't ICMP ping either. Whereas a penguin will squawk loudly at the first hint of a fish.

        6) Penguins are generally better dressed, so are reluctant to get involved.

        7) Quack. Quaaaack.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Banks to sue Apple

    UK Banks have been using stupid questions like this (e.g. what is your favourite colour?) for a long time.

    Perhaps if they collectively sued Apple for plagiarism they'd be able to pay back all their emergency government loans.

  4. David Cantrell

    And even if your favourite car does remain constant, you still have to remember whether you told them it's "E-type", "E type", "Jaguar E type", or any of several other variations on the theme.

    1. Ru

      Good point

      Perhaps some kind soul should suggest to the engineers of the security question system that they don't allow freeform responses and instead allow the user to choose one of a number of possible answers.

      This makes it much harder for them to forget, or to accidentally enter something that isn't a colour for their favourite colour and best of all reduces the attack surface of the security question handling service by removing the need to handle naked user supplied text!

      Sounds like a win-win to me.

      1. upsidedowncreature

        Re: Good point

        Yeah, maybe have four questions with the answer to each one being a digit from 0 to 9, that should do it.

      2. John727

        Re: Good point

        Absolutely not. As some have already pointed out, my fav colour is purplemonkeybuttsore ... or was that with only one "t"? ...

      3. Mephistro

        Re: Good point (@RU)

        Agreed. It would be sweet.

        Alternatively, they could code password input fields with an autofill feature, 'a la' Google's Instant Search. That would make forgotten passwords something from the past. XD

  5. peter 45

    Fave colour

    Usually have to wait for the the IT guy on the other end to stop giggling when he hears the response to the question of what is my favourite colour.


  6. Philip Kilner

    Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

    Nice to have some fun at Google's expense here - but people's reaction to this mystifies me, it really does.

    Let's take a minute to consider what happened: -

    1. People set up wireless networks

    2. They didn't encrypt them.

    3. They transmitted data over the resulting unencrypted wireless link.

    4. Google recorded the data.

    On the one hand, sure, there is a privacy issue - but it comes from Google's ability to aggregate data, rather than the "private" nature of the data - I really think that after you have transmitted your data over an unencrypted wireless link, you have to accept that it's a push to describe that data as "private", and that you are the one who has made it public!

    We need some sort of "Date Protection Darwin Award" for this one!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

      Ah, the cosy world of pure sophistry.

    2. Minophis

      Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

      Good idea, let's indeed take a minute to consider what happened: -

      1. Google knew that intercepting and recording the data was a crime in many of the countries where they did it.

      2. The did it anyway.

      Many people with an wireless connection don't understand the technical details. The do not realize they need to take such precautions or even consider that their usage is readable and broadcast beyond their own four walls. They do not work in our industry and as far as they are concerned the computer is just another home appliance like the TV or dishwasher.

      Not encrypting your network does not make it OK for someone to record your data any more than going to the toilet in a restaurant while leaving your phone on the table makes it OK for someone to walk off with it.

      1. Ben Tasker

        Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

        Not encrypting your network does not make it OK for someone to record your data any more than going to the toilet in a restaurant while leaving your phone on the table makes it OK for someone to walk off with it.

        I agree entirely, but with regard to the computer just being another home appliance, I just can't forgive peoples stupidity that easily.

        If I put metal into a Microwave and end up doing some real damage (to me or the house), what's going to be your response when I say "I didn't know you couldn't?". You'd call me an idiot, and point out that it might be wise to learn about equipment before using them. Sorry, but from my PoV a computer is no different. The harm may be less obvious, but broadcasting personal details to all-and-sundry could end very badly.

        If people want to use something, whatever it is, they need to learn how to operate and maintain it. They don't need to learn assembler, but they do need to learn about any precautions you should take (such as not having an open connection) as part of how they operate it.

        Perhaps it seems a little harsh, but you know what there are a lot of things that would be avoided if people took the time to absorb a little knowledge. We probably wouldn't have the Government talking about opt-in for porn, in fact they'd probably have realised that the censorship of Pirate Bay etc was never going to be effective.

        Still, it's the world of an idealist I guess, after all opening a manual and giving it a quick skim is just too fucking hard when you could be listing your breakfast on Tw*tter

        1. Minophis

          Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

          I can understand and sympathize with your point of view. However you can learn everything you need to know about microwave ovens in the space of 2 minutes where as to learn everything you need to know about computers could take far longer (I've seen people spend 3 years studying computer science at university and come out with a level of understanding I would rate slightly above village idiot). Most people don't go to PC world with a fistful of cash in order to spend weeks getting to grips with network security, sensible data back practice, etc. They just want to send family photos to granny, write their opinions on Facebook and watch videos of funny animals.

          I agree that people should take precautions and I would never setup an unsecured wireless network .My point is simply that the level of precautions taken by the users has no bearing on the level guilt of those who stole the data. Burglary is burglary whether the person forgot to lock their front door or not.

        2. Ancientbr IT

          Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

          ...but with regard to the computer just being another home appliance, I just can't forgive peoples stupidity that easily.

          I don't know - computers are often sold by the same box shifters that push out microwaves and dishwashers, so why wouldn't a user regard a PC as being in the same class? They don't come with a government warning stamped on them...

      2. Ancientbr IT

        Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

        Agree 100%. Back in the 1990s when I was coming to grips with networking I was amazed when I installed a software firewall on my elderly system, connected to my ISP and discovered that someone was pinging my machine hundreds of times a minute, probing for an open port.

        I've noticed that the IT community (of which I am a member) tends to assume knowledge on the part of dumb (their term) users when it has absolutely no right to do so; maybe if we stopped making those assumptions, some of the more annoying problems would fade away.

        IT isn't the only group (or even the first) to assume that users know as much as engineers do, though - for decades, garage mechanics have tended to do the same thing when I've taken my ailing motorcycle in for repairs...

  7. EvanPyle

    "In about 10 years or so we will see the collapse of Moore's Law. In fact we already see a slowing down of Moore's Law. Computing power cannot maintain its rapid exponential rise using standard silicon technology."

    "Using standard silicon technology"

    That's like saying we can't have hybrid cars because gasoline engines don't run on electricity. USE A DIFFERENT TECHNOLOGY!

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Fink-Nottle's Law : The number of predictions of the imminent collapse of Moore's Law doubles approximately every eighteen months.

    2. Ancientbr IT

      Absolutely! Isn't graphene supposed to be the new inheritor of the silicon mantle? Or carbon nanotubes? Or GaN? Or organic nanowires? Or any one of a number of other candidates, some of which are completely organic? Or memristors? Or...?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Cyber criminals have now recognised that Mac is an interesting area" since the great unwashed started thinking different and uptake grew.

    Not really a glowing report for the minority, eh?

  9. FordPrefect

    If you are stupid enough to leave your wifi open and unencrypted you are fair game! Now if google was trying to crack WEP or WPA passwords it would be another thing entirely!

    1. Tibbs

      The door's unlocked

      So when you forget to lock your front door, I can walk into your house uninvited?

      Thought not.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard Business Practice...

    For Google: Collecting personal information.

    For Apple: iF you can't answer the right iQuestions with the right iAnswers you don't get into the iGarden.

    Everything normal, then.

  11. John727


    There will be squeals. Squeals of pain. Oh joy, payback. Sadism at it's best.

    No wait, it's impossible. Mac malware can never come about since all the creative designers that would have thought this stuff up are all too busy making iLove (to each other, of course ... just to banish any thoughts of paraphelia from your minds ... I know you went there ... you know who you are ... come on, admit it ... yes, you there ... lurking ... at the back ...).

  12. PaulR79

    Moore's Law - it's not a law, damnit!

    I get so bothered by seeing "Moore's Law" mentioned. It isn't a law, it's a prediction that has been true for a while but I don't see it being illegal to break this law or any threats of arrest should it not be upheld. It's a stupid, asinine phrase that gets mentioned almost all the time when talking about new CPU technology.

    NB: I sense that perhaps I have deeper issues than "Moore's Law" but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

    1. I am David Jones Silver badge

      Re: Moore's Law - it's not a law, damnit!

      Well you'd better get onto Wikipedia and come up with a new name. Good luck with finding a consensus!

      While you're at it, have a go at Murphy's Law, and the Law of Unintended Consequences.

      Asinine indeed...

    2. Ben Tasker

      Re: Moore's Law - it's not a law, damnit!

      To be fair, I can't think of an actual 'law' (in the legal sense) that is actually called 'x Law' (at least in the UK). Everything is X Act, though some might have a nickname that ends in Law. Generally it's The Law or a law.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      I guess that Ohm's law isn't really a law either then. I mean really it was just a prediction that the potential difference across a conductor is proportional to the current flowing through it. In fact V=I*R isn't even the law, it is a consequence of it. Oh, and then there is the issue that the law only follows for "ohmic" conductors. For those non-ohmic conductors, the prediction doesn't hold. Then there's Kirchoff's law,

      Quick! arrest all hardware engineers with their dirty resistors; calling things laws when they aren't!

      (By the way, if your grief had been that the prediction was that the number of transistors on a microcircuit doubled every 18 months, and had nothing to do with processing power, I would've been on your side)

  13. Just a geek

    Why do people give real answers to security questions? I tend to pick a few random words from a dictionary and keep a note of them in a password too.

  14. albaleo

    Renowned theoretical physicist

    Shouldn't that be "theoretically renowned physicist"?

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