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How secure is the data you put online? No one really knows

A participant sits with a laptop computer as he attends the annual Chaos Communication Congress of the Chaos Computer Club at the Berlin Congress Center on December 28, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The Chaos Computer Club is Europe's biggest network of computer hackers and its annual congress draws up to 3,000 participants.

No. Not really. You don't. You just have to put it in there and kind of hope for the best. Shopping sites or social network sites will of course tell you that they take your privacy very seriously, but they're not going to publish schematics of their network layouts for your inspection. And you wouldn't be able to figure them out if they did.

The whole system is pretty shaky when you think about it. If you want to go to a movie, you can read a million reviews of that movie before deciding whether to buy a ticket. Want to grab a bite to eat? The Internet is crawling with review sites that tell you what you'd be getting. But if you want to know how good the security of a web company is, there's not a lot you can do.

We talk to Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University about this. He says there are places you can go to inspect the track record of a given site, but there's no guarantee that the information is up to date or that it will cover fresh attacks coming in the future.

Security expert Anup Ghosh joins us as well. He says that a lot of companies don't realize that their networks are vulnerable at every possible computer they have. All it takes is one employee to click on the link and a hacker can get in and start sucking up data. He recommends you make some common sense adjustments like using different user names and passwords on different sites so that any problem can be isolated before it spreads all over your digital life.

Also in this program, the white iPhone is finally arriving. We ask our Twitter team how it might change the world.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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