We’re moving toward an online world where everything is always connected to the Internet or stored in the cloud and has more computing power than ever. It is all thanks to the fantastic advances in information and communication technologies.
Since more and more people have access to the Internet, there have been talks about the Internet of Things (IoT). First, look at what you have on you at all times. You probably have at least one and probably more than one portable device that is always connected to the internet, like a smartphone. When put together, the computing power of these devices is about the same as what was needed 40 years ago to send a rocket to the moon. Today, we use that processing power to download and watch movies and TV shows, sign in to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, send and receive messages with e-mail and instant messaging programs, and much more.
Privacy and Safety in the Digital Age
The Internet is changing not only how we live but also how we think about our safety and privacy. Most of the security measures we use are “perimeter-oriented,” meaning they are meant to protect the edges of an area. It is harder to set boundaries and divide the trusted inside from the untrusted outside. Many of these methods no longer work in the online world.
It is common for a mobile worker to need remote access from a portable device, even if that device is not connected to the company’s network. “BYOD” stands for “bring your device.” It means that a user brings their device to connect to a network (bring your device). Because of “bring your own device” policies, a company’s chief information security officer has to deal with new problems. In the end, borders must be porous, and many things must be on both sides of any given boundary. Deperimeterization that happens on its own creates new security problems and makes privacy worries worse.
What is the difference between Privacy and Security?
First, let’s agree on what we mean when we say “privacy” and “security”:
- The idea of privacy is based on your ability to control how your personally identifiable information is collected and shared. For example, people can use your personal information to find out who you are.
- The safety of your private information is called “security.”
People decide how open they want to be in public places, like their social media profiles. How safe a platform is depends on how well it protects the information you have to give to use it.
Say you go to the bank in your town and open a checking account. To open an account at that bank, you must give them your personal information, which will then be kept in their files. If you keep using the report without any security problems, you have protected your right to privacy and safety. However, even if a bank takes reasonable steps to keep outsiders from getting to customer information, privacy can still be at risk if that bank then sells that information to advertisers. Likewise, if cybercriminals gain access to your personal information through a data breach, your safety and privacy are at risk.
The difference between privacy and security when protecting your personal information is who or what is doing the protection. When talking about data, security means keeping it safe from people who shouldn’t have access to it. On the other hand, privacy is more about how that data is used.
Because of this, there are protections to stop data breaches, no matter who tries to get in. Privacy measures are all about keeping track of who can see private information and making sure they follow all the rules for keeping it safe once they do.
Online Privacy and Security: How to Take Precautions
Thankfully, even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, it’s easy to get some level of anonymity and security online. Easy-to-implement measures to improve online security include hiding your browsing history, blocking cookies, and connecting to a virtual private network (VPN).
You should put only some of your trust in a single solution, as there is no such thing as perfect for keeping your information safe and private online. However, using both together will give you more defense than either alone.
Make use of a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) is a common way to stay safe online, particularly when connecting from a public Wi-Fi hotspot like a coffee shop. VPNs prevent websites and ISPs from monitoring your browsing activity, and many also offer security against intrusion. However, there are some security holes in them that you should know about.
While a virtual private network (VPN) can mask your online identity by changing your IP address and encrypting your traffic, you are still vulnerable to tracking through means other than your physical location. Even if you’re using a VPN, your online activity can still be tracked through browser fingerprinting and social media logins.
Using a VPN is a great way to protect your privacy, but it’s even more effective when combined with the incognito browsing mode of your preferred web browser. Also, it’s preferable to use a VPN whose logs are immediately purged after creation.
Prefer apps that have encryption
Using apps that provide end-to-end encryption is a great way to keep your data safe while sharing it over the internet. For example, messaging apps like Signal use end-to-end encryption to ensure that no one besides the sender and receiver can read the content of the message. That’s because encryption (or scrambling) takes place before the data is sent, and only decryption occurs once it reaches your device.
“Digital Hygiene” should become a habit
In addition to hiding your tracks and encrypting your data, there are other things you should do to improve your online security and privacy. These include:
- Try to be careful about what you put online and on social media. Checking in or geotagging multiple times in the same place can help other people figure out exactly where you are. It’s important to know who can see what you post on Facebook and other social media sites, so it’s a good idea to check your privacy settings every so often. You should also use how easy it is to limit who can see your content.
- If you don’t trust a password manager, keeping your digital passwords in a safe place that’s not online is better.
- Installing and using antivirus and anti-malware software is essential. If ads and cookies are giving you trouble, you can use add-ons for your browser to block ads and cookies or switch to an anonymous browser.
- You shouldn’t save your credit card or debit card information when you shop online because the store’s system may be open to attack. However, guest checkout or profile creation is available.
While no single application can ensure your complete anonymity and invulnerability, a combination of security measures can significantly increase your peace of mind. There are free virtual private networks (VPNs) and other low- or no-cost alternatives to the techniques discussed here. Try them out and see what works best for you so that you can feel more secure while surfing the web.