If you think what you do on the internet is restricted only to you – think again. There’s a whole bunch of data collectors keeping an eye on what you just typed in your browser, or what searches you have performed lately within your comfort zone.
Browsers are one of the most vulnerable modes of information hacking. If the hackers break into it, they can easily lay their hands on sensitive data like credit card details, passwords, emails, address, browsing history, bookmarks, etc. Well ..so much for your online privacy!
Stats have shown that 96% of internet users in the US fear to lose their personal data to online hackers. Nearly 6.4 billion USD was lost due to ‘card not present’ transactions and over 9 billion USD will soon be trashed, due to ‘payment card frauds’ in 2015.
Look at some of the latest trends affecting the online privacy –
Following the bombing of a Russian jet over Egypt in October 2015, ‘Yarovaya’ – an anti-terror law was cleared in Russia that directed all phone and Internet providers to store all communication records for six months.
Under the US Patriot Act, the FBI had unconstrained access to personal digital information of its Nationals. It believed that it could legally obtain the complete browsing history of an individual along with the IP addresses of everyone he had corresponded with.
Similar situation is apparent with the new governance as well, where several ISPs will be directed to track your browsing behavior in future; while some may even sell that data to advertisers – ‘without your consent’.
You must have seen online ads on your browsing site or blog page that are specific to your previous searches or interests.
‘Filter bubbles’ are generated from such personalized searches. Giant search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo are constantly competing to refine these ‘filter bubble’ algorithms to collect as much personal data about you as possible, and tailor your online experience accordingly.
However, in the process, they also sell these intricate details of the users to the advertisers for more targeted and relevant ads.
So how do you ensure online privacy?
The answer is to limit your digital footprints. Let’s look at some of the measures you can possibly take …
No Incognito Windows
Using an ‘incognito window’ for browsing will just hide the information locally, that is – on the current computer. Your user data is still collectible through ISPs and the search engines that will use it for several purposes as per government directive or marketing.
Also, according to Google’s privacy page, Incognito doesn’t work unless you are logged out of your Google+ account, as it continues to record your activities while you are signed in.
Use Private Search Engines
Private search engines offer a safe way to search for things. They do not store your personal details, queries or track your activities on the internet.
Use of VPN
Virtual Private Network not only change your location but also protects your privacy online. But all VPNs are not reliable but there are some on which you can rely but they are not free. However, there are few reliable free VPN like Cyber Ghost, HotSpot Shield, Spot Flux, etc.
Data Protecting Tools
Online data protecting softwares and tools are uncomplicated, simple to download and enable ‘anonymous communication’.
For example, The Onion Router (TOR) has more than seven thousand relays to conceal the user’s information, making it more difficult to be traced by any network surveillance or traffic analysis.
Dedicated Laptop at Random Places for Secret Searches
DNS is always available to your ISP and search engines. Unfortunately it’s also visible to the hackers who can easily re-create your profile through your DNS and specific search logs.
So it’s way safer to change your usual internet location for those ‘secret’ searches. Use a dedicated computer at random places, but do ensure to take the basic precautionary steps in a public network.
You are what you search – it’s that simple. Everything you do is being tracked. When you use the Internet, where you use it from, how much time you spent, what kind of devices are connected, and of course what you’re accessing.
Your information is being sold to various organizations like insurers, financial companies, real estate agencies, car companies and even political parties for monetary gains. Are you willing to be a ‘product’ in the market ? Make up your mind – the sooner the better.
Take a look at the following infographic that reflects the above facts –