In their infancy, internet technologies have shown immense potential in upgrading our lives and making them more convenient. With the ability to transmit information and connect with people all around the globe, privacy has made these activities more unique and exciting.
While it rarely was a priority, maintaining privacy in proper situations has made the digital world a safe haven for anxious people, with an ability to complete a multitude of tasks without social interactions and exposure to personal information.
But as the digital world kept growing, its focus shifted to a relentless pursuit of convenience. Big tech companies, software developers, and other businesses have jumped on the train to create better products or advertisements but strayed from providing the best possible service. Information is the most valuable resource that makes products convenient, but when precious data can be sold and reused for other services, aggressive data collection becomes the not-so-hidden goal for many companies.
Because authentic user data is so profitable, tech companies gradually stripped away our internet privacy. Anything we post on social media, online shops, and other platforms can be scrapped or hacked. When digital tools are so convenient and efficient, most people store parts of their personal data online, so they can bid it farewell.
While there's no way to guarantee complete online privacy, there are tools that can help you diminish the collection of private data. In this article, we will address how we leave fingerprints on the web, how third parties collect and use this information to recognize or even track you, and how tools like a user-agent switcher or a chrome proxy extension can help you protect your privacy and anonymity. Look up Smartproxy - a respectable proxy provider with plenty of blog articles concerning safety on the internet to get in-depth knowledge about assisting software. For now, let's build basic awareness on mass data collection and the fall of online privacy.
How big are your digital footprints?
Depending on the device you use, most connections to web servers will leave a data trail behind it, and it is far more significant than most internet users realize. The amount of shared information grows when you gave to complete sign-ins and registrations and gets worse with online purchases. Disclosing your personal data with retailers is extremely convenient but makes information spillage unavoidable.
A connection to a web server gives up a lot more information than a casual user anticipates. With every request, you give up your IP address, user-agent, plugins on your web browser, and even parameters of your device.
Companies that provide services try to get as much information as possible to develop personal connections with individuals that might become their customers. Promises of further convenience are true, but the pursuit of data creates new ways to track visitors and additional sources of income for these businesses.
How to minimize online tracking?
While most businesses will not leak your personal information, you as a visitor have all the right to be uncomfortable about the extent of data collection. Let's discuss a few ways you can reduce the tracks you leave online.
Change your user-agent
User agents appear in HTTP headers and help web servers identify your browser and an operating system to present your data in the most suitable format. Web owners can track recurring user-agents to profile certain visitors. If you feel uncomfortable with sharing this information, you can download a user-agent switcher extension for your browser to retain a portion of anonymity.
Hide your IP address
An IP address is a big part of your network identity. Its exposure to malicious parties can show your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and to some degree, your relative physical location.
Hiding your IP is a common practice for both businesses and individuals around the internet that has many benefits. Connections to suspicious websites are generally more secure when done through an intermediary server. Proxy servers can help you mask your network identity and avoid exposure to dangerous third parties.
For simple browsing purposes, we recommend using a chrome proxy extension that will protect you from unnecessary IP exposure.
Use different email addresses for your sign-ups
Your email address is another piece of valuable data that is sold to other websites, resulting in you receiving unwanted mail. Get different accounts for some registrations to protect your privacy and keep the stream of received information manageable.
Clean your Web cookies
Web or HTTP cookies are created for browsers to track and save personalized sessions for website visitors. While the intended purpose of the service is to load the intended pages and restore your sessions faster, some internet users might not be comfortable with these tools. While cookies are harmless on trustworthy websites, suspicious pages can mistreat your personal data. Make sure you clean your browser cookies to minimize digital fingerprints.
Anything you post can be scraped or hacked. If your data is online, you are never private. You can change your IP address with a chrome proxy extension or tinker with other settings related to your connections to the internet, but that does not fully prevent fingerprints. The days of complete privacy are over. The best we can do is to mitigate our exposure to the web to retain some level of anonymity. However, if you want to pursuit complete privacy on the internet, your efforts will be in vain. There is no privacy on the web and we would be fools to expect it.
Keeping your personal information private is more important than ever, as more and more threats seem to pop up every year, especially when it comes to online privacy. Ransomware, malware, viruses, and other threats can attack your computers and devices, potentially putting your information at risk. And identity thieves are always on the hunt for people's private details so they can use it to their advantage.
This all might sound scary, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. For example, you can use one of several privacy protection services, such as those that are listed below.
Give this a try: type your full name into Google or any other search engine that you like. Check out the results that appear. If you're like most people, you might be shocked to find that a lot of websites make it super simple for strangers to figure out where you live, what phone number you use, where you work, when you were born, and so much more. People can even use those same sources to buy a background report on you.
Because there are so many data broker websites that could all be showcasing your personal information, it will no doubt become overwhelming when you want to work on getting your info removed from each and every site. But with OneRep, you can let the experts do all of the work. They'll check for sites that are displaying your private details, and then opt out on your behalf so you don't have to. It doesn't get easier than that!
With DeleteMe, you can let someone else take care of contacting all of the data brokers to let them know that you don't want your information displayed on their websites. This service can help ensure that details like your name, photos, phone numbers, occupation, and much more are taken down.
It works like this: you'll submit the information you want removed, and then their experts will take care of the rest. You'll even receive a report in seven days to let you know about the removal process.
ReputationDefender is another tool you can use to improve the way you appear in search engine results. But this service is also about controlling your online reputation. So, they can give you a report card to provide you with an overview of your current reputation, and then help you make improvements.
By regaining your power when it comes to what shows up in search engine results, ReputationDefender can help protect your privacy by stopping people search sites from displaying your info in the first place. Plus, ReputationDefender is a little different from other privacy protection services because it gives you different solutions, so you can select the one that is best for you. For example, you can find solutions for individuals and executives, as well as small businesses and large companies.
Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is a term that is used to refer to details like your date of birth, addresses, property records, family members, and more. PrivacyDuck is a service that can help you take this information down so it isn't easy to find on the internet.
With PrivacyDuck, you can use opt out resources at no cost to you if you want to learn how to tell data brokers that you want your information to be removed. But you can also use their paid services if you would like them to take care of everything for you.
Which One Will You Use?
Because these privacy protection services can be quite similar to one another, it can be hard to decide which one you should go with. But if you check out reviews and make comparisons between them, such as OneRep vs DeleteMe, you'll be able to see the pros and cons of each option much more easily. Then, once you decide which one to use, you can rest assured that you're taking an important step toward protecting your privacy.
Fraud, theft, cyber-attack, "my data has been stolen," or "I have been a victim of internet fraud": these are the words or sentences one hears very often these days as an individual goes online using the internet.
Or an organization makes its sensitive data available to be accessed online through the internet. When such incidents happen, these cause severe consequences for businesses and organizations, and government levels.
On the other hand, we also hear terminologies like "Data Security "and "Cyber Security." But what are these terms, and why are they so important in today's Information technology? First, let us look at how data security can be breached and how to counter these attacks.
In the era of Information, technology is progressing day by day, and innovations are being introduced in IT, such as 5G technology, video conferencing, and IoT (internet of things).
Every human being on the face of this planet has now been connected in this global village through the internet locally or globally. As people are getting hitched, they are sharing information through different applications and platforms.
Data Security and the Role of Governments:
Locally, governments store their citizens' data such as their National IDs, family tree data, passport information, and educational information. As this is sensitive data, governments cannot afford to let this data be hacked by an individual or a team of skilled personnel known as hackers. That's why governments and organizations think and implement ways for data security that will protect the data from theft and being used in fraudulent activities.
That's why all over the world, countries are making laws to protect cyber crimes and to apprehend the culprits involved to keep their valuable data from unauthorized breaches. One of the salient features of these laws is that no business or government can attain data from the user without their consent.
Business and Data Security
As more and more businesses are establishing and getting connected locally and internationally, every enterprise is transforming user data digitally, eliminating the need to use paper. Doing this type of digital transformation has its perks. First, it boosts the businesses operations as they are now more productive and quicker in responding to its customers or users as the computing environments have provided endless possibilities for the businesses.
But as the data of employees and customers start to grow, the need to monitor and manage better arises for individual businesses. If not properly monitored, the data can quickly go into the hands of unauthorized individuals who can use the data for God knows what fraudulent activities. Businesses usually store data of their customers such as their:
• Telephone Numbers
• Credit Card / Debit Card or Bank details
This is an individual's sensitive data, and the responsibility of the business or banks is to make sure that as the data grows, the more it gets difficult to monitor as data stored on computers has its benefits as well as downsides such as hardware-related failures, such as computer hard drives malfunctioning and crashing to a point where it is impossible to recover the data stored on it, to cater this on needs to have backup drives intact so that a backup of companies necessary data is saved in case of a hardware failure.
Data security is achievable if you keep track of anything that might pose a threat to you. This includes making sure that people you meet online for a business cause are not suspicious. You can use Nuwber or do online research on your own if you find someone showing red signs. Always check the legitimacy of a person before you provide any sensitive details about your business to them.
Computer viruses are another major cause of corrupting the data stored on the computer by altering the data stored on the drive and making it useless.
Common types of computer viruses are "Adware," which displays unwanted ads on the user's computer and consumes many resources, thus causing lags in serving user requests. "Ransomware" is another dangerous form of computer virus as it alters the extensions of the computer files and leaves a note for the user which states that if you want your data back, contact us and send a huge amount as being told, thus causing a huge setback to the organization financially.
This also impacts people losing jobs and, most importantly, affecting the company's reputation and reliability in this competitive world of technology.
As the computer helps us atomize the tasks and makes our lives easier, we can not eliminate human interaction with the machine, thus also causing human errors. This is also a significant cause. The most leading cause today is considered in data breaching or data loss. However, this can be overcome by implementing appropriate user controls to restrict employees from accessing data they cannot access.
Mobiles and Data Security:
As this is the age of mobiles and with the launch of 5G technology, the organizations have allowed different services to their users online, which users can now easily access through their mobile devices, thus eliminating the need to find a computer and laptop and accessing any service offered or own data information at his own desired time and place.
But as the users and organizations are shifting to cloud computing, more and more cyber attacks are being made to hack the user data from their hand-held devices.
That's why big companies like Apple and Google are now implementing more and more features with every passing day and every major release of their operating systems. For instance, Apple releases its iOS to all of its devices regularly to make the operating system of its devices more secure and provide more data security to its end users by eliminating the vulnerabilities reported by the security researchers, also known as bugs.
The same is the case with Android. Security patches are being released regularly to make the end-user experience more secure. But every mobile company is securing the data of its users by implementing security features like "Fingerprint Sensor," "Face-ID unlock," and 128-bit and 256-bit encryption methods and passcodes.
Another way the mobile data security is strengthened by the implementation of "Two-Factor Authentication" system, which is a code system sent to the user's mobile in addition to the passcode so that only the original user can gain access to the desired data after verifying the code sent to him/her on their registered mobile or E-mail address.
Conclusion: To summarize the whole story in a nutshell, businesses and organizations should adopt the latest methodologies for data security such as encryption technologies, cloud-based data monitoring tools, network and endpoint security tools to minimize data breaches, regular backups, and risk management policies to make the user as well as companies services and data more secure from unauthorized access.
One reason why you would decide to utilize Google's Play Store as your application store of decision is a result of the different safety efforts that Google has set up. The organization not just audits applications that are submitted to the store, yet there are likewise frameworks set up to guarantee that they are liberated from malware.
Tragically, here and there some applications can by one way or another sneak by the radar, such is the situation with a lot of applications found by Dr. Web in which these applications been able to fool clients into surrendering their Facebook passwords. These applications likewise had all the earmarks of being well known where it was assessed that joined, these applications figured out how to pile up more than 6 million downloads. As per Dr. Web:
Fortunately, Google has since eliminated all the culpable applications from the Play Store. The organization has likewise restricted the engineer accounts subsequently. We don't know the number of clients may have been influenced, however on the off chance that you have downloaded any of these applications and utilized Facebook to login, then, at that point possibly you should consider changing your secret phrase ASAP.
What is Two-Factor Authentication
You might have noticed that some of your online accounts require a PIN number for logging in, in addition to your username and password, and wondered why that is the case. Or you might have pondered why you need to enter your PIN code after you have inserted your credit card into an ATM machine before you can withdraw your money. Such redundant verifications are the applications of an emerging security technique in the world of cybersecurity known as Two Factor Authentication (2FA). The two-step verification process requires that the users enter two pieces of information (i.e., factors) to prove they are who they claim to be thus instituting efficient protection against the rising number of phishing attacks and account takeovers.
Vulnerability of passwords
The concept of passwords has been around since 1960s, and it still is the most fundamental element of cybersecurity today. A password acts like a key to your account by giving you access to what is yours and denying everybody else the same.
Of course, hackers have also been around for just as long as passwords, so back in the days a typical safety guideline to protect your account sounded like "change your passwords frequently", "favor random unique and complex passwords over dictionary words", "use password managers", "set different passwords for different accounts" etc.
However, with burgeoning computing power at the disposal of cybercriminals and a swelling amount of malware enabled by it, passwords alone are no longer sufficient to keep hackers out of your system, no matter how "complex", "random", "unique" or "frequently changed" they might be.
In spite of the fact that passwords are no longer stored in databases in the form of plain text like they once used to (as a safety measure against data breach) and are now stored cryptographically through a process named hashing, a typical 9 character long hashed password can still be cracked by advanced algorithms in just two hours. 2FA acts to increase the number of security layers to the user's login process, thus making it harder for hackers to break in. With a staggering rise in the number of cybersecurity attacks during COVID-19, it is all the more important to add a little more safety to your accounts, and enabling a two-factor authentication system is the right place to start.
Strength of Multi (or Two) Factor Authentication
To truly understand the two-factor authentication system, it is important to understand Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) first because the former is just a subset of the latter.
MFA basically consists of three fundamental ways (of which there are several derivatives) to gain access to a given entity. These include PIN/password, biometrics (fingerprint, retinal scan or facial recognition), and out-of-band verification methods like SMS. Understandably, 2FA includes any two of the stated verification methods thus affording you significant protection even if your password or network connection is compromised.
Let us now walk you through MFA methods, any combination of which is recognized to be powerful against threats.
PIN / Password
When you sign up for a newsletter or a social media account, you basically create an account for yourself which includes setting up a username and password to erect your first layer of defense.
Push notifications are gaining popularity as a means of authentication. The most common example is how Google sends authentication codes to previously authorized devices every time a new device associated with a given user requests access. This method provides users with an opportunity to agree or deny the login attempt depending on whether or not they recognize it. If the user provides his/her consent, a signal to the webserver is generated which completes the authentication process.
Out of band verification code
Out of band verification methods rely on connections other than the internet to communicate the code to you. The most common methods are SMS and robocall. Never use email for code verification as that could be easily hacked.
The only downside to SIM-based methods is that if you are traveling abroad and cannot receive your code on your SIM, you are effectively locked out of your own account. Physical 2FA token is emerging as a method of choice which also successfully does away with this limitation. It is a device that works by generating codes to unlock your accounts. For example, Facebook and Amazon both have code generators that work very well with their respective websites by generating unique codes at every login attempt. The downside is, they cannot be used for any other account than the one they are made for.
Biometric verification includes voice recognition, facial recognition, fingerprint, or retinal scan. This method is getting increasingly popular because it is instantaneous. The moment you expose your biometric signature to a computer sensor, it reads your identity and authenticates it thus saving you the time typically spent waiting for an authentication code to be received on your phone.
There are numerous authenticator apps on various app stores which work the same way as a physical 2FA token by generating one-time, unique access codes for every login attempt. Both Microsoft and Google have their respective authenticator apps.
In spite of 2FA's effectiveness against ID theft, there is a small price to pay for the additional security you are getting. If you happen to lose your mobile phone, or it just so happens that its battery dies, you will be locked out of all your accounts for which your authentication is set to be via text message, authenticator app, or QR code, and until you recover and resuscitate your phone, you will not be able to get your access back.
However, keeping in view its utility, this price is peanuts particularly in comparison to all the likely losses which can be incurred in the aftermath of cyberattacks which one becomes vulnerable to in the absence of a two-factor authentication system in place. So, the next time you make an account on a website and are asked if you would like to enable Two-Factor Authentication, be sure to click on "Yes".