Since the early days of computers we have known that any information you put into one can be accessed - and used - by someone else. Our news is rife with scandals and crimes exposed by someone reading our e-mails at home and the office. Our popular fiction is rife with the hero penetrating the secure computer firewall, acquiring "confidential" information and saving the day a split-second before an impending disaster. If the hero can do it, so can the villain.
The latest is the news that Monster.com, the darling of job-seekers, has been hacked and that information on a reputed 70 million people is in the hands of scammers and has been for at least six months. Not to worry: The FBI and the Secret Service are on the case. Meanwhile someone, somewhere, is using this information to intrude into private lives and steal.
Yet we continue to post information, personal as well as financial, that now, thanks to the Web, can be accessed from anywhere in the world. We give out our credit card numbers, our banking account numbers, our Social Security numbers and our mothers' maiden names, trusting people we have never seen and do not know, secure in the fact that a little lock on the screen is protecting us.
And it's not only criminals we need to worry about. We buy things online, giving information to the sellers that they in turn use or sell for "marketing" purposes. Have you been to Amazon.com lately? They use your past purchases to develop your customer profile, so be careful what you buy.
On other sites we post information in the name of romance or friendship that we wouldn't tell our mothers. Wonder why you didn't get that job? They checked out your page on Myspace.com. And, thanks to our financial institutions, our credit information is available online for all to see and use, for a fee.
We worry about Big Brother looking over our shoulder. Don't bother - he already is, along with everyone else.