Losing our Privacy Online

Many of us seem to accept that we will lose a certain amount of privacy the more our lives become centred around the digital world. After all when we post up details of where we are, what we are doing to hundreds or even thousands of people on social networking sites then it’s obvious privacy is not at the top of our concerns. However I suspect many have not even began to think of some of the wider issues involved and specifically whom we are allowing to see our details.

There are dangers involved and some more obvious than others. Many teenagers for example, have literally thousands of ‘friends’ in sites like Facebook – it’s almost like a popularity contest. A contest I might add am unlikely to win with my rather sad 67 friends listed currently. But imagine the teenager who announces to the masses that they are off on holiday for three weeks with their parents to their 2100 ‘friends’, what a great way for burglars to target properties, car thieves to steal cars or even identity thieves target individuals or their premises some might even use a fast UK VPN to avoid getting caught online.

Handy social apps which announce your location and status to everyone – sounds great, but do you really want thousands of virtual stalkers? Do you want your pictures and images distributed far and wide throughout the digital world. Because that is what happens, photos online can end up anywhere and not just with your few select friends.

The major issue with our browsing is that it is fundamentally built on something pretty much insecure – HTTP. The protocol that we mainly use to browse and surf the internet works great but has no security at all (HTTPS has some but very little). Everything is sent and distributed in clear text – all our posts, web browsing, downloads, messages included. This you can at least do something about by using software like this – demonstrated here.

But even that won’t help you when you’re using the web sites themselves and the internal security. Everything you are and do online has value and such it is valuable information to everyone from companies to governments. There is a reason that Facebook for example record every keystroke you make on their site, including stuff you decide to delete/don’t post – it’s because it’s useful to advertisers.

We feel that we’re in control of our identity when we browse the web but it’s simply not true. For example your IP address is used for a whole host of decisions about your browsing – what you see and how. Take the BBC site for example you are checked as soon as you log on to that site, if you’re ip address is not British then you won’t be able to use the amazing BBC Iplayer application. Well at least unless you do something like this Video – Watch BBC Iplayer from France.

The reality is that by default we have very little control of our personal information, although we can improve that situation. Be careful about what you post and where, check out VPNs and security software that encrypt your connection and make sure your security settings are controlled on any social web sites you use.

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