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Your Information is being stolen.

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Proving that information posted online is indelible and trivial to mine, an academic researcher has dumped names, email addresses and biographical information made available in 35 million Google Profiles into a massive database that took just one month to assemble.

University of Amsterdam Ph.D. student Matthijs R. Koot said he compiled the database as an experiment to see how easy it would be for private detectives, spear phishers and others to mine the vast amount of personal information stored in Google Profiles. The verdict: It wasn't hard at all. Unlike Facebook policies that strictly forbid the practice, the permissions file for the Google Profiles URL makes no prohibitions against indexing the list.

What's more, Google engineers didn't impose any technical limitations in accessing the data, which is made available in an extensible markup language file called profiles-sitemap.xml. The code he used for the data-mining proof of concept is available here.

“I wrote a small bash script to download all the sitemap-NNN(N).txt files mentioned in that file and attempted to download 10k, then 100k, than 1M and then, utterly surprised that my connection wasn't blocked or throttled or CAPTCHA'd, the rest of them,” Koot wrote in an email to The Register.

In an accompanying blog post – which happens to be hosted on Google's Blogger service – he said the exercise was part of a research project he's doing on online privacy.

“I'm curious about whether there are any implications to the fact that it is completely trivial for a single individual to do this – possibly there aren't,” he wrote. “That's something worth knowing too. I'm curious whether Google will apply some measures to protect against mass downloading of profile data, or that this is a non-issue for them too.”

A Google spokesman said he was exploring whether the scraping violates the company's terms of service. He issued the following statement:

“Public profiles are usually discovered when people use search engines, and sitemap information makes it possible for search engines to index these public profiles so that people can find them. The sitemap does not reveal any information that is not already designated to be public.”

He said users can choose to make Gmail addresses, and other certain pieces of information, public or private. Users can also select an option in their profile settings that prevents search engines from indexing their profiles.

Google isn't the only hoarder of personal information that has been scraped. In July, an independent researcher compiled the names and unique URLs of 100 million Facebook users and made them available for public download. The release made it possible for the profile pages to be accessible even if the users later configured their accounts to be private.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/25/google_profiles_database_dump/

Kinda makes you feel nice and cozy huh?

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Posted · Report post

That's one massive dump.

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Posted · Report post

I naturally just assume that. Everything else of ours is taken. Spirit is next.

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Posted · Report post

wow you mean anybody can see my PUBLIC profile? WOW just WOW. I think we are all dumber for having read the feces this guy flung against the wall.

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Posted · Report post

I think the problem is that most people don't realize what is made public by google and what isn't.

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Posted · Report post

I think the problem is that most people don't realize what is made public by google and what isn't.

If people dont realize that their PUBLIC profile (which is what this article is referring to) is public than they deserve whatever they get. I haven't seen an attempt by google to hide this.

There are some shady things google has done this is not one of them. If we are going to spend time talking about personal information being compromised lets not waste said time on silly things.

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Posted · Report post

Meh, I just link articles for discussion in here because Football news sucks right now and I can't stand the Panthers section because it's the same old argument over and over and over and over. fuging shoot me.

If you don't want to discuss something then don't.

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Posted · Report post

This isnt exactly the point of the thread, but I have never ever trusted the internet for this reason.

I have been online since 1994, and never once have I used a credit card online, or have ever used online banking, or even used my bank's website to check my balance, and I never will either.

All it takes if for a 'keylogger' virus to pick up your password one time, and you can be wiped out. There are hackers now that are even smart enough to only take a dollar or two, from 10,000 different people at a time, and never get caught, because no-one notices a dollar.

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Posted · Report post

That sounds like a challenge.

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Posted · Report post

This isnt exactly the point of the thread, but I have never ever trusted the internet for this reason.

I have been online since 1994, and never once have I used a credit card online, or have ever used online banking, or even used my bank's website to check my balance, and I never will either.

All it takes if for a 'keylogger' virus to pick up your password one time, and you can be wiped out. There are hackers now that are even smart enough to only take a dollar or two, from 10,000 different people at a time, and never get caught, because no-one notices a dollar.

If you have ever used your credit card in a restaurant, or a gas station, or a department store, then you have used it online. They use the same circuits and connections to process credit cards that online purchases do. In truth, using your credit card in a restaurant is more dangerous because the waiter can easily write your card number down and use it. They can also have programs installed that can read the card number you swipe. When you are using it online, the session is encrypted and only you and the server you are connecting to can see it.

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