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Personal Info Search Site Cogle Rattling Internet Users

Posted September. 25, 2010 11:00,   


"I was playing Starcraft when a kid joined the game. He behaved badly so I cogled his game ID. I soon found out that he used Naver`s knowledge search service for a vacation assignment and that he posted a mobile phone number at an online shopping mall. I sent him a text message saying I`d find his home address if he didn`t behave. He then logged out."

"I recently posted an opposing view on a news article, and a Netizen disagreeing with my comments found my mother`s personal information with my ID. Frightened that someone whom I`d never met has personal information of my family, I erased my postings."

¡Û Digging for personal information

These two cases exemplify how serious leaks of personal information are on the Internet. Cogle (http://podpod.wo.to/cogle.php), a new online search engine, has added insult to injury.

Made by unidentified netizens, Cogle looks just like Google at a glance but offers more than an ordinary search service however. It enables a user to search for the personal information of others based on 18 items including the ID of the knowledge search service of Naver, a leading Web portal in Korea; the latter half of the homepage address and names of Cyworld, a social networking service in Korea; comments posted on Naver news; IDs of blogs on the Korean Web portal Daum; and IP information.

In short, Cogle is a search engine made exclusively for obtaining personal information.

While celebrities or people evoking public criticism had been the target, tracking down personal information has become common, meaning anyone can fall victim.

On Cogle, just several clicks are needed to find out someone`s personal information. A variety of tips are also shared, such as "The first step of cogling is to secure a Naver ID," "Older people use their Korean names spelled out in English as IDs," "Target online shopping malls," and "If lucky, you can obtain both the mobile phone number and home address."

A 22-year-old college student said she surfed Facebook and Twitter to find out more about a guy she was set up with on a blind date. In a conversation with him, she unwittingly spoke about his personal background and was asked how she knew. The guy was displeased and did not ask her out again.

¡Û Preventing leaks

For fear of becoming a victim, certain Web users are intentionally hiding to protect their information from being leaked, including shutting down their personal homepages. Ways to safeguard personal privacy are also being shared across the Internet, such as using different IDs at school and work, making IDs with letters and numbers combined, requesting deletion of comments, and hiding mobile phone numbers and home addresses in online shopping malls.

A high school student asked for help on an online bulletin board saying, "I wrote foul language on a friend`s Twitter page last year, and she knows my ID and can easily find that out. I erased all my comments on Twitter but they are still searched for on Google."

Naver said, "We can temporarily block access to malicious Web postings, but fundamental deletion is not possible since the Web site where the comments are posted has that right."

Google asks its users to request the Webmaster of the Internet page where the comments are posted or the Internet host for comment deletion.

Hyun Taek-soo, a sociology professor at Korea University, says, "Since netizens can post personal information on the Internet without realizing it, Internet portal sites should post a warning and inform users of the danger of exposing personal information."