Privacy violations occur when:
Private user information enters the program.
The data is written to an external location, such as the console, file
system, or network.
Private data can enter a program in a variety of ways:
Directly from the user in the form of a password or personal
Accessed from a database or other data store by the application
Indirectly from a partner or other third party
Sometimes data that is not labeled as private can have a privacy
implication in a different context. For example, student identification
numbers are usually not considered private because there is no explicit and
publicly-available mapping to an individual student's personal information.
However, if a school generates identification numbers based on student
social security numbers, then the identification numbers should be
Security and privacy concerns often seem to compete with each other. From
a security perspective, you should record all important operations so that
any anomalous activity can later be identified. However, when private data
is involved, this practice can in fact create risk. Although there are many
ways in which private data can be handled unsafely, a common risk stems from
misplaced trust. Programmers often trust the operating environment in which
a program runs, and therefore believe that it is acceptable store private
information on the file system, in the registry, or in other
locally-controlled resources. However, even if access to certain resources
is restricted, this does not guarantee that the individuals who do have
access can be trusted.
For example, in 2004, an unscrupulous employee at AOL sold approximately 92 million private customer e-mail addresses to a spammer marketing an offshore gambling web site. In response to such high-profile exploits, the collection and management of private data is becoming increasingly regulated. Depending on its location, the type of business it conducts, and the nature of any private data it handles, an organization may be required to comply with one or more of the following federal and state regulations: - Safe Harbor Privacy Framework [R.359.2] - Gramm-Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) [R.359.3] - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) [R.359.4] - California SB-1386 [R.359.5]