recommended reading

Everything Gmail Knows About You and Your Friends

MIT/Brian Fung

When Google hands over e-mail records to the government, it includes basic envelope information, or metadata, that reveals the names and e-mail addresses of senders and recipients in your account. The feds can then mine that information for patterns that might be useful in a law-enforcement investigation.

What kind of relationships do they see in an average account? Thanks to the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, now you can find out. They've developed a tool called Immersion that taps into your Gmail and displays the results as an interactive graphic. (That's mine, above).

The chart depicts all of your contacts as nodes, and the gray lines between those nodes represent connections between people by e-mail. The larger the circle, the more prominent that person is in your digital life.

A word of warning for the privacy conscious: To use the service, you need to give MIT permission to analyze your e-mail metadata. Once you've done so, it'll take a few minutes to compile everything. When you're done, you're given the option to delete your metadata from MIT's servers.

What you see in my chart are five and a half years' worth of e-mails. The yellow circles indicate family and close family friends. All of my college friends are in red, and my D.C. friends are in green. Blue nodes denote my colleagues at The Atlantic; pink, my coworkers at National Journal; and gray, people who generally don't share connections with the other major networks in my life.

In all, MIT counted 606 "collaborators" in my inbox, totaling some 83,000 e-mails. But you can also break down that data by year, month, or even the past week. Pretty amazing stuff—and a good reminder not only how much information Google knows about you, but what that information can uncover about other people. If you can learn this much just from looking at one account, imagine what crunching hundreds or thousands of interconnected accounts must be like.

Source: MIT

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.