Security

Why Privacy Matters in this Digital Spy Age

I have "nothing" to hide - really?

Last updated on February 9th, 2018 at 08:58 pm

In today’s world, our personal information gets stored on all sorts of devices including phone, computer, entertainment system – and in paper with different organizations.

Because of this all and recent revelations by Edward Snowden, privacy in this internet age is a concern to many people. And rightly so.

Some people ignore the invasion of privacy and just say: “If I don’t have anything to hide, why should I be concerned about privacy and security?”

Privacy experts say that almost everyone has something to hide, whether it be medical issues we don’t want to be exposed or certain things we do during the day.

in this digital spy age

If you are one of those who is genuinely concerned about protecting your necessary information, there are steps to take.

Those same privacy experts also say the least we can do for the cheapest cost is putting a band-aid on the webcam on your laptop.

Similar to what the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg does – maybe?

People are often surprised at the technology that exists, which can allow snoopers to take over a person’s webcam – and collect footage without the target even suspecting a thing.

Unfortunately, it’s almost nearly impossible to take any precautions in regards to your microphone is turned on.

Some who are paranoid just cut the microphone wires inside the computer.

Subsequently, Apple has become a rising star in developing security features that encrypt data from the get-go.

Which means you must know the password to access that data.

Those who don’t have access or know the password will have a tough time getting on an iOS device.

Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation has struggled to access phones that belonged to mass shooters.

With all this security though, not everyone can pay $600 for an iPhone – and therefore, are stuck with a cheap Android phone, which pales in comparison to Apple’s security technology.

While teenagers don’t care about the FBI or NSA invading their privacy, they are concerned with hiding personal information from teachers, parents, and other adults.

That also explains why apps such as Snapchat has become so popular, with Snapchat messages disappearing after a short period-of-time.

Social media is very open to prying eyes.

Governments are after your social data

Twitter recently confirmed that organizations including the Department of Homeland Security buy massive amounts of data so that they can mine the twitter streams.

Worldwide government intelligence agencies, as well as those in the United States, continually demand private user data.

Hence, privacy in this internet age has become a significant issue of discussion.

Many are attempting to protect themselves while keeping their computer safe.

How?

The average person assumes they should use antivirus programs, but privacy experts say they are just a scam to take money from people.

Experts have also said people don’t need passwords that are uppercase and lowercase with numbers and symbols.

It is possible to ensure privacy with a password that is a string of three unrelated words.

Privacy, in brief

In the long run, privacy is more about who you are and what you are doing.

The internet has become a superhighway full of high valued data, that is often stolen, sold, collected and reviewed.

There are many pieces of privacy including what you do, who you are (name, birthdate, address, social security number, and phone numbers).

People can even find out what you search for on the internet, the websites you view, the articles you read – and of course, the products you buy online.

Why Privacy Matters

We all have things we don’t want to be made public, your salary, your medical history or your banking information.

There is nothing wrong with hiding that information.

These are the things you obviously don’t want to be blasted all over social media for the world to see.

That is why privacy matters.

Privacy Matters
Everybody has something to hide, at any given time!

Let me share a story with you to give you another glimpse of privacy importance.

A while ago, a woman entered a store and ordered several ordinary items including cotton balls, lotion, and vitamins.

Because of the current technology and algorithms, the company successfully predicted the woman was pregnant and began sending her coupons for baby items.

That woman happened to be a young teenager, so the coupons and news shocked her father.

This information was the teenager’s personal information, and she should want to protect it in any way possible – just like you.

It’s almost impossible to recover from a cyber hack unless it’s financially driven.

People can put fraud alerts in their banking file. Banks can issue your new credit card numbers, and banks have begun being able to know if your card got hacked before you realize it.

Some sites are controversial, and therefore people don’t want to get exposed while using them.

When you get hacked, it is rather easy to get new credit cards, new social security numbers – but you can’t create a new life.

Anything that is damaging to yourself can end up online forever, whether it’s a private medical condition or photos of you in the nude that got hacked.

Employers often lookup your name into Google, to see what they can find about you.

One of the keys to better privacy in today’s internet age is a sound education about privacy and technology, and how to be smart about them.

Kids understand the issue of privacy, but they don’t always get the whole picture.

The threats have become even more significant in the internet age, that everyone should spend some time learning more about privacy and security.

Some people use software such as Linux and Mozilla as a way to be more secure, but those, in fact, are not the most secure products available either.

Security flaws in software like Linux can linger for hours and even days before they are adequately discovered and taken care of.

Not every browser is secure.

Google Chrome among the other big-free-players (Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple) is known for providing your data to advertisers.

However, Chrome at the same time – is good at keeping you safe from hackers.

Are Facebook Security Settings any Good?

Some believe the security settings on applications like Facebook and Twitter protect you, but they in fact, only control the flow of information over the platform itself.

Even if you make adjustments in Facebook security settings, the social giant still can collect and store any data.

Moreover, Facebook could turn over your data to the government if they ask for it.

Indeed, Facebook has emerged as a serious threat to privacy – at least to an accountable extent.

They can follow you everywhere you go online. Most websites have “Like” buttons, which allows you to like specific posts or articles on a site.

It means that Facebook can watch you and see what articles you are reading and what videos you are watching.

People have assumed for too long that Facebook only watches what you do on their service, but it goes even farther than that in today’s digital world.

In fact, Facebook possesses full access to our personal information about us, what we do, what we hate and what makes up fine.

That’s the information the government agencies or lawyers can ask for at any minute.

So, as you surf the internet and use different social media platforms, check out the privacy settings.

Are there ways to protect my privacy in this internet age?

The social platforms allow users to select who and what information you share.

Consider not sharing it with the public and only to close friends and family.

Always remember, whatever you put on the internet, is there forever.

Even if you delete something from its source, there is always an online paper trail.

protect privacy in this internet age
In this digital spy age, you cannot protect your privacy by just installing an antivirus or antimalware program.

Online registrations, movies, photos, videos, and articles – in short, anything you post or share online, will leave bits of information about you in the digital world.

A good way of protecting yourself from data hacks and breaches is backing up your data.

Typical attacks include ransomware attacks, which locks up your data and requires money to release it.

Several cloud-based services are great for backing up your information; Dropbox is one of them (to give you a hint).

When it comes to your phone, be careful with what you do on and with it. Trojan viruses and worms can find secretive ways to get into your phone.

There are security apps that warn of privacy risks, suspicious battery drainage, data usage, call and message blocking, anti-theft and contact backup. Search for such apps in your mobile OS app store, and install them.

Bluetooth is another opportunity that creates security vulnerabilities. At the time you are not using Bluetooth, make sure it is turned off.

While it may be possible for you to make your Bluetooth appear invisible, some programs can still open up your phone to threats – hence, make sure you turn it ON only for the needed period.

With personal computers, it’s essential that you keep the operating system up-to-date. Software updates are a routine that comes with updates to specific software programs and operating system services.

The updates often remove old features and apply bug fixes and close up any security gaps that get found. So always install a legitimate copy of Windows and keep the automatic updates ON by default.

WiFi is another way hackers can access your personable data.  In fact, public Wi-Fi connections are effortless for hackers to use to gain access to anyone’s computers.

Always make sure you use a proper username and secure password, and ensure that you use Wi-Fi securely.

Another tip to ensure your privacy is to delete or store offline files and data you have not used for months.

Subsequently, You should become familiar with phishing and don’t open attachments sent from unknown senders.

Phishers attempt to mask their identities by appearing to be a well-known organization, like a bank or financial institution. So be aware of them.

Another thing that you should do is switching to private search engines like DuckDuckGo or Qwant.

Lastly, for your email communications, instead of using general email services you should try and opt for encrypted mail services such as ProtonMail and CounterMail.

Still not sure why privacy matters?

People may ask why privacy matters in today’s world, both online and in the physical world. Again emphasizing on the topic, in brief, there are several reasons why privacy is important.

One main reason is privacy is a limit on government reach.

Personal data can be used to influence our choices and behavior.

Privacy also matters because it allows to associate with people and engage in political activities that may be not approved by other people if it was made known to the public.

Privacy is important because it is about respecting the individual.

It is wrong for anyone to ignore someone’s wish for privacy, without a good reason.

The privacy is all about freedom of thought.

It allows us to criticize and think about unpopular ideals.

By not having privacy in the digital world, we are making the computer-based information systems more unreliable and open to hackers.

Without proper privacy cautions in place, personal/confidential information can get compromised.

Simply put, Internet privacy is critical because it affects everyone who breaths.

What does it take to ensure online privacy?

One of the primary debates going on is the argument over whether you can have both security and privacy in today’s technological age.

And, as the world becomes more technologically driven – it’s becoming more and more important for security services to be able to work while preserving privacy.

Many are arguing over the need for transparency to have a more effective intelligence system.

The Edward Snowden leaks, shined a light on how the US intelligence community had crossed the line when it came to invading people’s privacy under the guise of “national security,” which drew much criticism from the American public.

Government and major companies are also beginning to share personal data, that should be considered private.

Internet privacy takes both personal effort as well as organizations efforts for protecting user information and systems from cyber attacks and data breaches – with people connected to the online world, all the time.

Even if you are not doing anything wrong, your privacy matters.

Everyone has something they would instead not wish to list in public.

You should have the right to hide when you want to do something that seems to be embarrassing, or you just do not want anyone to know about it.

This new reality of NSA mass surveillance (and other governments’ agencies doing the same too) has put people into a mental prison, making us only do certain things at certain times.

As the world continues to expand into a far-reaching technologically driven world; it’s imperative to become more secure.

Please note, it now takes more than just installing anti-virus programs on your PC and delete your cookies monthly.

Everyone is necessary to change their online habits to improve their privacy and avoid security gaps and any possible privacy risks.

It is everyone’s job to keep the Internet alive and robust for future users.

People need to realize that even if you say “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care” – it is not an excuse and that everyone at some time has something they would rather not have the public know.

Indeed, privacy and security in the internet age will be a significant debate issue and concern for years to come.

Ali Qamar
the authorAli Qamar
Editor
Ali is an Internet security and tech enthusiast who enjoys "deep" research to dig out modern discoveries in the tech and security industry. Before turning to tech and security, he worked in marketing and management sector. He is passionate about sharing the knowledge with people and always try to give only the best.

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