Privacy is about respecting individuals and their personal life. Internet privacy is a subcategory of data privacy. And data privacy issues can arise in response to information from a wide range of sources, such as:
- healthcare records,
- criminal justice investigations and proceedings,
- financial institutions and transactions,
- genetic material,
- privacy breaches,
- residence and geographic records,
- user preferences using persistent cookies.
That’s why the internet privacy is not only important, but obligatory. Also, it is our mutual responsibility to protect it, with individual and collective awareness and action.
Cybercriminals can trade with your personal data
Cybercriminals violate consumer privacy because they can profit from it. Today, a global black market for stolen data exists all over the world. The most usual information they are up to, or information that can be sold online are:
- mobile phone numbers,
- email addresses,
- working IP addresses,
- credit card numbers
- among other personal information .
Online data breaches have been around since the first networks, but it raise worries that cyber fraud is among the fastest growing forms of crime in the world. Internet Privacy is called Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and the lack of internet privacy has a number of impacts.
Online security affects everyone who interacts online. The revelation of such information can leave the subjects vulnerable to many abuses like exposal of medical records, psychological tests and interviews, court records, financial records etc.
When some personal information is taken and sold or distributed (which is equally important), that individual is treated as a thing, a means to be used. Invasion of privacy involves personal information that gives access to the subject’s life. Then, that information is made available to others without the subject’s consent.
Free online services use your data to make money
Our digital footprints are experiencing exponential growth along with cases of cyberbullying, hacking and identity theft on the rise, so we need to be extremely carefully with our online actions and to be aware of such cases of violation of privacy.
The most common security recommendations include:
- installing anti-virus software,
- selecting stronger passwords and
- using a VPN to encrypt data online.
- protecting your email
- securing your your smart phone
Also, you should keep your skeptical eye of using free services in exchange for piece of personal information. This type of exchange can hurt your privacy, because the more someone knows about you, the more power they can have over you. It can be used to influence our decisions and shape our behavior.
You need to be aware that personal data affects nearly everything, including the content you see on the Internet. All information you may think that is not important, actually is valuable to let’s say, some companies that will build their business model on getting your information according to your demographics, behaviors and habits. Also, some companies are sharing information with their “strategic partners,” which is also a privacy violation.
Are the government’s intentions good?
The government uses the information they collect on social media to track and catch criminals, but at the same time they invade your privacy because they can see how people of interest relate to each other, and can investigate their friends in their networks.
So while the government and businesses are rushing to collect as much information as they can, you should have serious reservations about whether the data is being kept securely, and what are your rights. Many surveys and studies shows that people are truly concerned about what data is requested of them and how their data is eventually used.
Even the young generations that share all their moments online should be concerned about their privacy. Victims of domestic violence, public figures, and sensitive communities – they all need privacy to make sure their families and homes are safe.
Tools to help protect your online privacy
Because of the need of protection of personal information, there are many add-ons and tools designed to help you uncover which sites transmit data to third parties without your knowledge and to protect your online privacy. Ghostery, AdBlock Plus, and Do Not Track are the ones you’ll need in order to get protection of your online privacy.
- AdBlock – For extra protection, one-click installs the Antisocial subscription for AdBlock. With it, you can stop social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ from transmitting data about you after you leave those sites.
- Ghostery – Ghostery is used for blocking the invisible tracking cookies and plug-ins on many websites, showing it all to you, and is not limited only on social networks, but will also catch and show you ad-networks and web publishers as well.
- ScriptNo for Chrome – Is using the same concept of informing like Ghostery, with the difference the Ghostery is exclusive about the types of information it alerts you to, and ScriptNo will sound the alarm at just about everything.
- Do Not Track Plus – This extension puts a stop to third-party data exchanges, like when you visit a site like ours that has Facebook button on it. By default, your browser will tell the network that you’re on a site with that button—with the extension installed, no information is sent until you choose to click one.
Protect your email
With the 4.9 billion email accounts expected by the end of 2017, it’s nothing new that we hear more and more millions email accounts breached. As we mentioned, the cybercriminals need the data to make money by trading it.
Even there were no cybercriminals, the “free-email” companies use your email communications to target you with ads. Even though they aren’t explicitly saying that, they are making money on your data and they are using it to influence your decisions and shape your behavior.
So, if you want to stop those targeted ads and protect your sensitive data, you should encrypt your emails.
Protect your smartphone
Not only your computer you’ll also need protection on your mobile phone, because mobile browsing is a new frontier. Also there are few tools to protect your privacy on your mobile phone. Always have in mind to keep your social network use inside the apps developed for it, and make sure to clear your private data regularly.
With most of our communications going on through online services and the SS7 vulnerability, your calls and messaging aren’t protected, too. That’s why Silent Circle has developed the Blackphone and the Silent Phone App. Using them you can encrypt your phone calls, you text messages and file transfers, so that even you have someone sniffing and listening to your traffic and calls, wouldn’t understand anything.
Finally, you always have the option to just provide false information, but that will not solve the problem. You will just mess up the data of the companies that are using your personal information, but that won’t protect you. Also, it is no longer enough to install anti-virus software and deposit your cookies once a month.
The most important thing is for everyone to adjust their online habits to help prevent privacy risks and security breaches. How? By choosing more demanding passwords, limiting sensitive data, and using above mentioned tools for online protection. It is the necessity as well as great responsibility to protect the Internet community not just for our personal safety, but for all future users.