Without getting too far into the philosophy or psychology of identity, it is quite clear that identity is something that we have learned to value in society. Even long before the internet became a major part of our everyday lives, identity was collected through cards and forms and they were valued enough to be kept in vaults either at banks for estates, social security offices, etc. If you are old enough to remember a time before the internet, then you remember how easy it was to keep track of these items. You were in complete control.
However, soon after the internet, many of us fell victim to offering information online without really thinking about security. Layers of network security still hadn’t been developed like they are now. And considering the slow connection, there was no real need. The fact that you were able to use internet even with a dial up was exciting enough! Everything about technology now is proof that these technologies and their direction are controlled by demand. Mobility has never been so necessary and security is essential for mobility to be effective.
It is safe to say that the internet has been used by the public for a little over twenty years and to this day there are still many that do not trust the internet enough to feel confident in using their information to make purchases or submit information that has details that would compromise their identity. Securing your identity on the internet has been one of the motivating factors of why the internet has changed and businesses are able to thrive online. As a matter of fact, businesses that are made to secure your information are tied in with federal laws to ensure that your identity is secure online and punishing identity thieves. This requires changes in technology like secure bit layers and encryption.
When the iPhone first came out, there was no hesitation to embed these mobile devices with the network in the workplace. Many major corporations have employees and clients who join their network using software with encryption keys to access sensitive information and places. Virtual Private Networking (VPN) for instance, was and is a way to ‘tunnel’ into the network from outside of it, using encryption techniques and client software that is installed on their laptops and in some cases their tablets. Many companies jumped on the bandwagon but there were also plenty who were concerned that their networks could be compromised with this new technology. If there were any vulnerabilities, then development of these remote access methods were aggressive to ensure that they could still save the time of coming into the office while protecting sensitive information.
The same goes for those outside of the office or corporate environment. The mass media reports almost daily, news about hackers and sensitive information like social security numbers, bank accounts, and stolen identities and so on. There is no doubt that many people have concerns about securing their identities on the internet. But it isn’t necessarily so much about stealing them; the internet is the perfect environment to keep identities secret. When looking at identity online, there is an opportunity for people to create false identities online which is suitable if someone wants to live a virtual life or a fantasy of being something they are not. In this form they create their own identity, which has fed social psychologist theories as well as confirmed a lot of their concerns and thoughts. This is an interesting way of creating controlled security. Sites like Facebook, Google+, MySpace and others allow you to create any kind of profile with whatever information you want. This helps to mislead online predators of which there are plenty, but there have also been reports on those social network services taking user’s identities and selling or giving the information to advertisers and other companies. Notice how common it is to find searches that are customized around your identity and tastes. The use of these services requires somewhat of a trade off of your identity. Much like the early days of the internet, the excitement made joining these services impulsive without much thought to how their identities might be vulnerable.
We value our identities and as internet services evolve, we find that advertisers and companies also find it valuable in being able to place the product that you want right into your hands. It has become a business and because of it, there are levels of security that are involved to make sure that the information remains safe. But safe where? In your hands or the hands of competing advertisers?