DIGITAL DATA AND PRIVACY

Privacy is one of the most important aspects of our lives. No matter how much personal information we share, every individual has a certain level of privacy that the person does not reveal to anyone. We all know about the term privacy and what it means but digital privacy and protection is a whole different ball game. It is the control we have over our personal information or business on the internet. It ensures that our information is not leaked online to unwanted individuals and hackers. It is the protection of our personal information and businesses on the internet.

WHY PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY(DATA)?

I. To protect oneself against cybercrime

Imagine if some stranger online gets access to all your private photo gallery, important legal information and also your business-related data stored on your PC, tablet or phone. The threats, the ransom, the exploitation would never stop and can throw an individual into a state of depression. Getting your data back would be next to impossible irrespective of the amount of money you pay(extortion fee). Hence, online data and privacy protection is a must for all internet users.

II. To safeguard your reputation

What if your financial information and embarrassing personal details surfaced online? It would hurt your reputation acutely and make it really difficult for you to land jobs, partnerships and haunt you in every future endeavor. Your bank balance would be at the mercy of the hacker. So simply secure your online data to avoid a negative reputation and the mess follows.

III. Identity Theft Prevention

You may find yourself in legal trouble despite the fact that you are completely innocent if your identity is stolen online and misused. This is because of the recent improvements made by cybercriminals: if they get their hands on a person’s personal information, they may get away with a variety of crimes and then blame it on the victim. If you don’t want to be held accountable in the near future, you must commit to secure your personal information online at all costs.

HOW YOUR DIGITAL PRIVACY MAY BE AT RISK?

Rampant cookies

If you’re unfamiliar with how cookies operate, they’re little data files that are saved on your computer. They are used to store information about your browser activities (such as your Google and YouTube search history, our name and password, and so on). Cookies on protected websites are typically more secure, but cookies on other sites are not encrypted at all.

GPS

Some apps make it mandatory for us to share our location for the app to further function. Sometimes we tend to accept the GPS location sharing policy of an app just for the sake of using it. It exposes our location which can be shared or sold for illegal activities.

Phishing

Phishing is the act of deceiving web users into opening fraudulent emails in order to get personal information. Cybercriminals send emails disguised as legitimate businesses in order to effortlessly obtain your personal information.

For example, you may receive a phishing email closely resembling the email sent by your online payment service provider in which the moment you provide your login data, all information such as username, password, credit card numbers, and pins, etc are sent to the hackers without your knowledge.

Pharming

Pharming is a process by which cyber criminals redirect a web user from a legitimate website to an illegitimate one and the user becomes vulnerable in this bogus website and may provide vital information into the wrong hands.

Unprotected browsers

Most of the websites which do not have HTTPS encryption are less protected and your information may be leaked to unwanted third parties without your knowledge of it happening.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of software that is installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge and it uses the internet to gather crucial information about the user. Your personal information may also be utilized for criminal purposes.

Malware

Malware is also a software specifically designed to disrupt, delete and gather sensitive data and also gain unauthorized access to the computer system. Malware is created by hackers with the purpose of causing harm to systems and networks. They take advantage of victims in order to make money.

6 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY

1. Block cookies

There are many software’s available that can delete and block cookies automatically. It also disrupts the tracking feature of the cookies.

2. Personal accounts should be well-protected

Strong passwords are hard to break through for cybercriminals. Do not use your date of birth, names or account numbers that the hackers can easily guess. You should make a combination of random numbers and both uppercase and lowercase letters should also be included. You can also use password managers to manage and store your passwords more efficiently.

3. Encrypted apps for communication

Use apps with end-to-end encryption for messaging and communicating as only the sender and receiver can access the information in such apps. Apps such as Signal have end-to-end encryption which does not allow anyone outside the chat to access/read your private messages and communication.

4. VPN

Virtual Private Network or VPN gives you access to anonymity and privacy. It helps you to surf the web without your online activities being traced as it conceals your I.P address. Always use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi as your web activities become hard to access for cybercriminals.

5. Financial info should not be saved on websites

Always spend those extra minutes to key in your information while making financial transactions related to your business, shopping, or bank. Do not save your debit or credit card numbers and payment details on websites even though they are regularly visited.

6. Incognito mode and Private browser

Every web browser either has an incognito mode or a private browser which does not allow your computer to save browsing history, cookies and, downloaded items. It also helps you to browse and search the web anonymously.

CONCLUSION

Today the definition of privacy is evolving rapidly and being familiar with it is of utmost importance as more than half of our day-to-day activities involve the internet. Your privacy is in your hands and you have to take the responsibility of protecting it. Although online platforms also work towards protecting your privacy, their policies can sometimes become very vague and hard to understand with lots of technological and legal jargon. You cannot afford to completely depend upon the government and the companies for the protection of your privacy; it’s also your personal duty to protect it.

Lawyer by profession and articles on law, health, and technology with references.