- Posted April 1, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
How To Protect Your Privacy Online
How to protect your privacy online is a debate that has been sparked fierce debate even more than usual with the situation involving the NSA and Eric Snowden. Thoughts of the book '1984' and 'Big Brother' looking
over your shoulder, tracking your every move seems to be more real than ever before. And he seems to have an impressive array of tools at his disposal.....worms, trojan horses, phishing expeditions, viruses, spyware and other malware, hackers, etc.
Question is.....Do the benefits of such programs outweigh the trade off in your privacy?
That may be a question for another day. The more immediate questions that you should be asking yourself right now are...1) Why should I be concerned with protecting my privacy online? 2) Exactly HOW are people
able to get around my privacy protections that I've put in place? And 3) What steps can I take to bolster my privacy online?
A few days ago, I heard a quote from a well known member of the tech community that said to the effect, "You no longer have any privacy. Just get over it". I suspect that he was suggesting that our online
activities leave a 'bread crumb trail' that broadcasts to anyone who cares enough to know, just when and where you've been, and what you've been up to.
But is he correct? Should we "just get over it" and give up clinging to the notion that we have any privacy left in this world?
I don't think so. But let's get back to answering those questions....
1) There are any number of reasons you should at least make an attempt to protect your online privacy from would-be eavesdroppers. But right off the top off my head....
People can say that they are you when they're not when they have access to your personal information. (Ever notice how many Twitter and Facebook pages there are for celebrities that aren't authentic, but LOOK like
they are?) Imagine someone else impersonating you. Making statements you didn't authorize, unbeknownst to parties involved.
Employers are know demanding your Twitter, Facebook and other social media histories to determine your trust worthiness for employment. A malicious individual could very easily ruing this for you, by dragging your name
through the mud.
Blackmail or even extorsion can be very real dangers if someone is motivated enough to take advantage of you.
If you thought junk mail, telemarketers and other nuisances were bad before, they are now using and tracking your online activities to target you with
offers and marketing.
Criminals can track you, and target you for their nefarious deeds if you reveal where you plan to be at a certain time.
2) Any unsecured means of communication made online can be monitored. By criminals, law enforcement, even your boss. If your wifi or emails are not encrypted, that's a risk to you. If you make financial transactions or even
input your personal data on an unsecure website, that's a risk to you.
Believe it or not, there are people that use 'password' as their passwords for their website account login details. Not using a strong password including digits, upper and lowercase letters and symbols is a risk to you. (And in
that vein, don't let anyone else know your passwords, and change them regularly.
Most legitimate websites and ecomerce sites will NOT request that you give them your passwords. If you get an email with such requests, DO NOT reply to it with your login details, as this could be a 'phishing' expedition by
Allowing strangers to use your computer can lead to a breach of privacy. There are programs that record Keystrokes, and therefore, can record your private data. (This can be a serious issue on public computers like those found in web shops or libraries). Don't leave your private information just lying about on scraps of paper that can be easily misplaced or accessed by others - use a shredder. Store valuable private data 'physically' on paper - NOT on a drive that be corrupted or lost, NOR online on some free web storage site.
A name brand, latest version anti-virus software is an absolute must if spend any length of time online. They help to thwart spyware and other malware. DO NOT let anyone else use your computer with documents still
open, NOR before you have logged out of any website. Also, DON't give anyone the password to log onto your computer itself.
If your are using your work-related email for your personal inbox, this is a risk to your privacy. You get what you pay for online. If you choose to use a free email service or website host, there is not much incentive on
their part to ensure that environment is secure. (Pay for the services that you want onlne.)
3) Many solutions are given above, but four of the best are below.
Use a VPN - Virtual Private Network. You access the internet via a network of servers that are publicly accessible. But, as the name implies, these
generally allow you to log into their private network of servers that are stored around the world to access the internet, each with different identifications. You are essentially using a privately encryted 'tunnel'
which requires sophisticated abilities to get into by eavesdroppers. They also mask your computers identifications to those who would choose to track it.
Check this one out: http://torguard.net/aff.php?aff=256
Use an anonymous search engine. A few years ago, www.duckduckgo.com, (I know, sounds humorous), came on the scene offering a search engine that
did not save your personally identifying information. (How did they know that such a service would be in such strong demand?)
Since search engines are how most of use move around online, this is a must. I've just recently found out about it and started using it. One of the first thing you'll notice is the lack of ads.
Since they don't track your activities nor store your information, there is nothing for marketers to target with offers and ads. It was like a breath of fresh air when I saw it. Nothing like the search engines we're used to.
Make sure to teach all of these principles to your children. ('Nuff said).
Disconnect from the internet when you're not using your computer. Your information can't be retrieved by criminal elements if there is no connection available to send it.
You might also want to get your hands on a PC Hardware Diagnostics Software. I like this one at http://bit.ly/14EBx5Y
for a tool to manage your online reputation from damage.
(Copy and paste the links into your browser if they are not live.)
Stock Image - image ID: 10091640 courtesy of:-