Since the inception of the Internet, its privacy has been important. Although, today, it has become essentially critical and cannot be avoided due to the aggressive amounts of cybercrimes. Most Americans carry plastic money now, and the most common reason is convenience, however, one of the reasons is its safe usability. With plastic money, mugging gets difficult and that is the idea applied to the internet as well. You have to ensure taking all the safety and security measures to protect your online presence. Especially, in 2020, when the world has moved the entire infrastructure to the internet which was previously never thought of.
Imagine the plight of a research student whose online privacy gets compromised or a telecommunication manager who loses his client data because of some scammers. It is horrid and you must make sure to save yourself from such instances. The first step is to make sure that your Internet provider is registered and reliable. ISPs like Spectrum or Optimum don’t just supply high-speed internet but also play part in protecting your usage from third parties.
Going forward, you will learn about internet privacy, some common privacy issues, behaviors impacting your privacy, and how you can fight off these threats.
WHAT IS INTERNET PRIVACY?
Internet privacy, famously referred to as online privacy, is a basic human right. It is your personal privacy that you are fully entitled to when using the internet, this includes both Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Non-Personally Identifiable Information like your psychometrics.
Some companies, commonly called Data Brokers, observe the online activities of millions of individuals and collect data on them which they, then, sell to third-party companies for varied interests like direct marketing, credit risk assessment, targeted advertising, financial breaches, etc.
INTERNET PRIVACY ISSUES
Internet privacy issues have different intensities and purposes. Sometimes, it is using your data for product marketing, and other times, it is to humiliate you publically or mess with your financial assets. Some common issues that brew the most cybercrimes are discussed here.
You might have noticed those annoying ads following you around on every website typically based on your web browsing. This is the rough idea of tracking.
Search Engine User tracking
Often, search engines maintain data on the sites you visit. Search engines that have their own browsers as well like Firefox or Google Chrome, uphold your browsing history too. Legally, search engines have the right to collect search history, IP addresses, cookies, and click-through history.
This information, if fallen into wrong hands can be used to composite a user’s persona or profile based on shopping, browsing, and social media etiquettes.
Generally, cookies carry information on your browsing history to help create a better user experience by keeping your login and identification info, preference, language, and ad settings in place. However, if a third party ad serving gets involved, cookies can be a matter of concern.
Quoting Dwight Schrute from The Office (US), ‘Identity theft is not a joke.’ It has been a crime even before the internet existed but with the progress of technology, hackers and scammers have also innovated their criminal ways.
As discussed earlier, Personally Identifiable Information, when accessed by cybercriminals can result in being used for online identity theft. This PII can be tax numbers, social security number, driver’s license, bank account details, etc.
The worst identity theft scam is if your information is made accessible on the dark web in some way. Other times, identity theft can cause the victims to lose their hard-earned money as well.
Most times, cybercriminals source your information by these means:
Malware – Malicious software that works to access your computer’s operating system
Phishing – criminals posing as reliable companies to get you to share sensitive information or open harmful attachments
Pharming – hijacking your computer system by use of a virus
Old and discarded devices – before you get rid of any device like a computer or your phone, make sure to erase all of your data and reset it completely
INTERNET BEHAVIORS THAT MIGHT IMPACT YOUR PRIVACY
With the rise in online privacy awareness, more and more people are taking some sort of action every day to maintain their integrity online. U.S. government has also passed bills to ensure the importance of your internet privacy.
In this section, we have discussed some common actions that might be responsible for cybercrimes.
Saving your logins in your browser or just being logged into websites is convenient and time-saving. However, this sort of behavior puts you in grave danger if your device is hacked.
It is super handy to use and remember the same credentials for multiple accounts although, can you imagine the position you would be in if one account gets hacked leading to get all accounts getting hacked? This is one of the behaviors you need to change, right this moment!
ACCESSING SUSPICIOUS FILES OR ATTACHMENTS
Better safe than sorry – do not go on opening email attachments that do not concern you or look suspicious. One thing you need to remember is that reputable companies do not exchange important details via email. Furthermore, you should always download files from reliable sources only to minimize the chance of your device getting infected by a virus.
READ TERMS & CONDITIONS
It is common behavior to accept T&Cs of companies and websites without understanding the details and you need to change that. Do not just agree to the terms unless you mindfully agree.
WAYS TO SECURE YOUR INTERNET PRIVACY
- Update your software regularly
- Delete browser cookies and cache regularly
- Create unique passwords for every account
- Use privacy settings on websites and browsers
- Get a reliable security suite
- Use a reliable VPN software
- Do not open or download any malicious files
- Familiarize yourself with cybercrimes to avoid getting involved in one
- Be responsible when using the internet