Why Care About Online Privacy (If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide)

It seems as though the more we prosper the more privacy we sacrifice. Nowadays, your social networks know everything about you and the world doesn’t seem to care much about this intrusion. If your privacy is something you’re lenient with or if you belong to the group who think that the breach of privacy is something serious, or among the people who think protecting their privacy is a big deal, this article will help you understand just why you need to guard your confidentiality and also help you dispel a few myths about the thing that have probably been nagging your mind.
Alarm: Your data is valuable stuff:
People usually don’t think that their information is very important because after all, why would organizations buy the bio-data of an insignificant, common man? Well, that’s just the thing. If multinationals are willing to pay for your information, there has to be a very good reason for it. This doesn’t only mean your basic information but everything from your date of birth to your quirky little buying habits, it’s all important.
Usually when someone asks for your information, they assure you that it’ll be taken ‘anonymously’ and treated as such too. Now while the gatherer may be anonymous, your information is inevitably traced right back to your individual self later on. This is the primary reason why big companies discourage consumers from opting out of behavioral marketing. Your information has real, tangible value and sells for a lot of money. For example, for Facebook, you are worth just short of 5 Dollars a year even if you don’t open your wallet for them once.
This leads some people to believe that privacy is essentially nonexistent now but that’s not the case either. People are very concerned about the information they hand out. Even people who have already given out their private information are now very concerned about what is happening to it. They are gaining more awareness of their information day by day without wanting to black out all their information for free services. They just want to keep control over it and want to know what happens to it once it’s dished out.
Who’s More Dangerous: The Government or Businesses?
This question has been asked time and time again but there’s still no concrete answer to it.
The Government:
Usually it’s assumed that when you sign up for a Web site, your information is given to them and kept by them only. However, it’s not as simple as that. Truth is that even a simple FOIA request by the DEA and IRS are enough to get information about you from companies like Twitter and Facebook.
It is a common belief that the information you give is simply filtered by the government to catch criminals. But that’s not the only truth again, the government needs only to send a request for information and the company gives out information about you, your friends, your family and common interests even if you have a clean rap sheet.
Businesses:
If you thought that the government was bad, get a load of this. The government has to provide some level of transparency in order to fulfill lawful requirements. Businesses aren’t bound as such; private companies are free from these bindings by the privacy act of 1974. Once you give them your information, there’s no telling how far it’ll go to be used. Some companies even reserve the right to sell your information while a state, in their terms of service that they will use your information for sharing with their strategic partners, which is essentially the same thing without the cash involved.
One small comfort people have is in that the information they give isn’t personally identifiable. However, that too isn’t completely accurate. The fact is that not enough people ask themselves if the information they’re clicking ‘ok’ to is still their property later on or not. To put it simply, it isn’t. Once you click on that ‘I accept’ to the terms of service you didn’t read, you give away your information and it isn’t coming back even if you want to modify it later on.
However, this game runs both sides of the board because you have every right to your information and can ask about how it’s being used. You have complete right to ask where your information is being kept and if it’s secure or not. This is such an issue that even the Whitehouse has been taking measures to ensure that the consumer gets SOME privacy. This has proved to be a good first step but it’s still just that: “The first step”.
Even if you are perfectly comfortable about dishing your information, you must realize that others aren’t. This calls for consumer awareness. You have a right to privacy and even if not for yourself, you need to demand it for someone who needs it more than you.
Demand your privacy. Read terms of services carefully and be responsible about the information you give and how it’s handled.
Prevent Business Organizations from Intruding Your Online Privacy:
We live in a world where privacy has become a rare commodity. With the rising popularity of social networks, it has become increasingly tricky to regulate your virtual presence and control the amount of information you share with others. As the virtual media has become really vast, it is difficult to ensure 100% privacy, but there are methods through which you can ensure maximum safety. The most important wax-on of internet security is to have the latest Antivirus and firewall to ensure none of the parasites in cyberspace chew up your computer system. The following points, will give the readers a better understanding of the dangers involved in giving away your personal information to a website without taking adequate precautions. For those who don’t know what safety measures are to be taken, this page is the right one to be on.
Increase the Privacy of Your Internet Browser
Your browser acts as a medium for you to access other websites. It is useful but that is how most of the viruses make way to your computer. This is why it is vital that you tweak your privacy settings on your browser first. Make sure all the websites that you access, are safe for browsing and do not require any information that is strictly confidential and sensitive such as credit card details, personal contact and/or location. Having taken care of these things you can now move on to the next step. Using search engines that won’t save any of your searches that will definitely control the amount cache that gets piled up and as a result slows down your computer.
Put on some extensions
Once you have made the necessary changes to the privacy of your internet browser, you also have the option of adding certain extensions that will further enhance your presence on the cyberspace. Use extensions that will sift spam advertisements. Secure your connection by just using HTTPS, which automatically encrypts your information for other websites. These days there are many password management extensions which ensure that the user changes their password often, create strong passwords and protects people from password theft. Moreover, users can also go for other extensions like Do-Not-Track-Me which prevent third-party agencies from tracking and accessing all the websites that have been visited on your computer. Download extensions to manage your cookies and try to keep your cache clean as much as possible.
Once you have all these things out on your checklist to achieve internet security, your next step comes to protecting your social media presence. Make sure that you associate with people who are legitimate and trustworthy online and do not hand out personal information to any person that bumps into you in the virtual sphere. Tweak your Facebook and Twitter settings to protect your identity and personal data. Given the current circumstances where many whistleblowers have showed us all how vulnerable we are on the internet, these are only some of the measures you can take in order to protect yourself. Though it is not foolproof, but will definitely back you up wherever and whenever it can.
An intro to Info Hackers and some precautions to consider:
The aforementioned threats are of the higher level, there are still the regular hackers who tend to peak on important personals, like credit cards, and then exploit that information to satisfy personal motives. Issues with real stalkers have always been a threat but the preoccupation of internet has made the confidentiality problems much more superficial by exposing them to the virtual scythes. However, technology is not to be blamed for this matter but the sick people who collect and misuse information about individuals are the real culprits. This concern has led many to think about the ways to protect their personal information. If you are one of those, following are a few tips for you to secure your personal data efficiently:
GPS and Wi-Fi:
GPS and Wi-Fi can be considered doors to the data you want to protect. So an easy way is to shut those, specifically when unwanted strangers are not to be welcomed.
GPS: Leaving the GPS enabled when it is not in use can easily broadcast locality to a number of people like app developers or cell phone providers. Carrying a smart device that has GPS empowered can reveal even more specific locality; it is a simple tactic to deactivate GPS when it is not being used.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi can be used to access information on your device like phone numbers, pictures, browsing history hence it works exactly like the GPS. Installing power managing apps will disconnect Wi-Fi automatically when the screen goes dark and save you the trouble of doing it yourself again and again.
Date of Birth and Telephone number:
The way out from this security threat is to simply avoid disclosing accurate date of birth as it can be used for verification; same is the case with telephone numbers. It is vital to only provide these specifics correctly when they are to be used with credible organizations and not the random ones.
Safety Check:
One can never know who to trust, what the true identity of people is and whether the site you are surfing is safe or not. The best an individual can do is not to reveal any personal identifiable information on site that cannot be relied upon. Your name, email address, credit card number etc. are included in this category.
Shop with Security:
Firstly, it is significant to only shop at reputed stores, to dodge the shady ones that are there only to trap unaware shoppers. The next thing to consider is whether the trusted store you are shopping at regards security as the topmost priority; this can be confirmed by simply investigating into the kind of technology they use. All you have to do is ensure that the store has the following:
“Https” before its web address; the “s” is actually the essence.
Go carefully through the checkout page to see if it verifies that the page is secured by professional safety technology vendors and if it has the tiny lock padded symbol at the bottom right corner.
The Phishing Snare:
Phishing is one of the most common weapons hackers use. In fact, even you can create a phishing page after watching a couple of tutorials on YouTube. Basically, these pages act as a clone of real login pages and once people log into them, they indirectly send their login information to the hacker/creator of the site. They are generally sent via emails faking to be the original business organizations hence it is easy to identify them. Here again the “HTTPS” rule applies while another useful point to keep in mind is to always login to the original site instead of trusting the received hyperlinks.
All in all, there will always be the bad guys hence precautions are to be always taken to guard ourselves. There are virtual laws too, which will be covered in another article; they are the last steps we take in case of rare and damaging intrusion. The information provided in this article is a general introduction to aware the readers about how the people they are exposed to. By simply practicing these safety measures, everyone can be sure not to make a silly mistake from their end.

EFF Report Reveals Who’s Naughty And Nice With Your Cloud Data

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, known to most people as the EFF, is out with their Who Has Your Back? report on which companies do the best job of keeping your data out of the hands of Big Brother.

There are some surprise winners on the list that include Twitter, Dropbox, LinkedIn, SonicNet and Spideroak. Unfortunately the losers are no real surprise with the usual suspects of Verizon, MySpace, AT&T, Apple and Amazon leading the list of companies willing to hand over your data to Big Brother with little in the way of due process.  It’s particularly disappointing to see Apple with a meager one star rating; you’d think a company with such a loyal following would be more sensitive to the privacy of their customers.

Surprisingly Microsoft came out in the middle of the pack with four stars and Google got five out of six stars to rank near the top, getting dinged only for not informing users of government data requests.

Full report can be found here (pdf).