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Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You? 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0321518668
ISBN-10: 0321518667
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Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You? + The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers + Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

What Does Google Know about You? And Who Are They Telling?

 

When you use Google's “free services, you pay, big time-with personal information about yourself. Google is making a fortune on what it knows about you...nd you may be shocked by just how much Google does know.Googling Securityis the first book to reveal how Google's vast information stockpiles could be used against you or your business-and what you can do to protect yourself.

 

Unlike other books on Google hacking, this book covers information you disclose when using all of Google's top applications, not just what savvy users can retrieve via Google's search results. West Point computer science professor Greg Conti reveals the privacy implications of Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, Google Groups, Google Alerts, Google's new mobile applications, and more. Drawing on his own advanced security research, Conti shows how Google's databases can be used by others with bad intent, even if Google succeeds in its pledge of “don't be evil.

 

  • Uncover the trail of informational “bread crumbs you leave when you use Google search
  • How Gmail could be used to track your personal network of friends, family, and acquaintances
  • How Google's map and location tools could disclose the locations of your home, employer, family and friends, travel plans, and intentions
  • How the information stockpiles of Google and other online companies may be spilled, lost, taken, shared, or subpoenaed and later used for identity theft or even blackmail
  • How the Google AdSense and DoubleClick advertising services could track you around the Web
  • How to systematically reduce the personal information you expose or give away

 

This book is a wake-up call and a “how-to self-defense manual: an indispensable resource for everyone, from private citizens to security professionals, who relies on Google.

 

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

About the Author xxi

 

Chapter 1: Googling 1

Chapter 2: Information Flows and Leakage 31

Chapter 3: Footprints, Fingerprints, and Connections 59

Chapter 4: Search 97

Chapter 5: Communications 139

Chapter 6: Mapping, Directions, and Imagery 177

Chapter 7: Advertising and Embedded Content 205

Chapter 8: Googlebot 239

Chapter 9: Countermeasures 259

Chapter 10: Conclusions and a Look to the Future 299

 

Index 317

 

About the Author

Greg Conti is an assistant professor of computer science at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. His research includes security data visualization, usable security, information warfare, and web-based information disclosure. He is the author of Security Data Visualization (No Starch Press, 2007) and has been featured in IEEE Security & Privacy magazine, Communications of the ACM, and IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications magazine. He has spoken at a wide range of academic and hacker conferences, including Black Hat, DEFCON, and the Workshop on Visualization for Computer Security (VizSEC). Conti runs the open source security visualization project RUMINT. His work can be found at www.gregconti.com/ and www.rumint.org/.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321518667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321518668
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ben Rothke on November 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
It has been suggested that if one was somehow able to change history so that aspirin had never been discovered until now, it would have died in the lab and stand no chance of FDA approval. In a report from the Manhattan Institute, they write that no modern drug development organization would touch it. Similarly, if we knew the power that Google would have in 2008 with its ability to aggregate and correlate personal data, it is arguable that various regulatory and privacy bodies would never allow it to exist given the extensive privacy issues.

In a fascinating and eye-opening new book Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?, author Greg Conti explores the many security risks around Google and other search engines. Part of the problem is that in the rush to get content onto the web, organizations often give short shrift to the security and privacy of their data. At the individual level, those who make use of the innumerable and ever expanding amount of Google free services can end up paying for those services with their personal information being compromised, or shared in ways they would not truly approve of; but implicitly do so via their acceptance of the Google Terms of Service.

While the book focuses specifically on Google, the security issues detailed are just as relevant to Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask and the more than 50 other search engines.

Until now, Google and security have often not been used together. As an example, my friend and SEO guru Shimon Sandler has a blog around search engine optimization (SEO). In the over three years that his blog has been around, my recent post on The Need for Security in SEO was the first on topic of SEO security. Similar SEO blogs also have a very low number (and often no) articles on SEO and security.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pablo on November 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In buying this book on amazon, and leaving a review on amazon, the net knows that much more about me.

This book addresses one of those game theory scenarios, where whats good for the collective (maximum data) is bad for the individual (loss of privacy). The rational response is to let everyone else fully disclose and capitalize on that, while maintaining your own privacy.

I probably knew most of the material in this book beforehand, being in tech, but its unlikely I can abide by the recommendations. My Google RSS Reader is loaded up with 100+ feeds, some of which spool up 100 articles per day. Google Calender is best of breed. And Google Email offers POP/IMAP for free, whereas Yahoo email does not. All three of these "killer apps" work best when logged in continuously. So I login from home and work, and they stay logged in 24x7. As a result, whenever something pops in my head, and I do a search, Google is able to track that, and tie that to my name because my name is tied to my email.

I may switch to NewsGator or Bloglines, and go back to Yahoo email/ Calender. And I may code up something on my linux firewall to switch its MAC / IP address on a weekly basis. And I may ditch my Grandcentral, with the cost that I will have to give out my real cell phone number to merchants. But I probably won't.

I was able to muster a small pyrrhic victory, and steer clear of the G1 (google) phone. Which is integrated tightly with Google, such connecting with a Gmail address, and all the contacts associated with that email address.

Also, re. chaffing countermeasure, with Firefox TrackMeNot is interesting. I tried that out sometime back, and had it cranked up to some number of queries per minute.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adrian D. Crenshaw on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a well written book, and an interesting read. It really points out the possibility in data mining the details from what you give Google via search, mail, finance or other services they offer. The downside to the book is if you are already a privacy enthusiast you already know most of the material, so it may be preaching to the choir. Still, it's a good book to hand to your less techie friends so they understand what they expose about themselves online.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr Anton Chuvakin on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
I think the book has good information (as other reviewers pointed out) and I enjoyed reading it. However, as I was reading the book, I developed an impression that this was a book meant to scare the reader into some kinda behavior change. In other words, I felt that the book was written to highlight the risks, to explain why given somebody so much information about your activities is a risky, bad thing and that you should do something differently.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the book, I think this is where it fails. As somebody who works in security, I consider myself to be pretty paranoid, but the book failed even to scare me! After reading it, I did not become afraid of Google at all. The author highlights some of the presumed risks, but he fails to present scenarios that make the dangers come alive. So he ends up with a "non-scary Scary Tale."
For example, when talking about ads, and especially targeted ads, the book suggests that such consumer profiling is scary, but doesn't explain how and why.

To conclude: the book presents a good story of how much Google knows about you, but my impression was that the risks are not made to be scary enough and few resulting behavior changes are suggested. It goes a little like "OMG, you CAN be hit by the car if you cross the street!" At times while reading it I thought that "you have no privacy, get over it" trumps what's written in the book.
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