In today’s world, leaving on the internet is the order of the day. Many individuals store data and carry out dealings of all sorts on the internet. This can be from the most prominent activity to even mundane activities; however, in all of these, data is constantly exchanged on the internet.
There are, however, two sides to a coin, as hackers are aware of how much data is exchanged on the internet, and they are also looking to get a hold of that data, hence the rapid increase in data breaches, surveillance and tracking that appears to be on the rise as the days go by.
Interestingly, hackers are employing new strategies to steal data online, and the only way to constantly outsmart the hacker is to understand the basis of online data breaches, surveillance, and tracking. It is the only accurate way to hack the hacker’s strategy and stop them in their tracks every single time. Let’s dive right in.
What are the associated risks with online privacy: data breaches, surveillance, and tracking?
Some of the reasons you should take your online privacy seriously are:
Data Breaches: A data breach happens once hackers access your data. In data breaches, your sensitive information is possessed by a hacker; hence private information is no longer confidential to you but is now shared with a hacker. Once this happens, it can spiral into several consequences, from data misuse to something as serious as bank account and credit card compromise, fraud and even identity theft. This explains why many individuals now explore options for virtual credit cards.
Surveillance: You know how you can feel someone watching you when you’re taking a walk or sitting in the park? Well, on the internet, that feeling doesn’t exist. With a data compromise, anyone at all, including a random hacker, an organisation, a business trying to sell you something, an ad service or even the government, could be watching your every move and tracking your internet activities without your knowledge of course.
Tracking: Not trying to be found? Well, a data breach takes that privilege out of your hands. With a data compromise, your entire search history and every activity you carry out on the internet, including what you bought last, watched last, binged on, and who you spoke to, can be tracked, and all the places you visit can also be found. With this information, you could become a target for almost anything as your hackers are now aware of your internet behavior and the things that can lure you.
Reputation Damage: The reputation that you’ve worked really hard to build could be gone in an instant. With a data compromise, your personal information and information that can put you in a bad light can be made public. This doesn’t mean fraudulent activity but could be embarrassing information or materials. Releasing these to the public could damage your reputation, compromise your relationships and even ruin your career.
Geolocation Tracking: Your stalker could be your hacker. A hacker can get real-time updates to your live locations with a data compromise. This means that even if you were to hide under a rock, you could still be found and even harmed. This also means you put your loved ones in harm’s way as they can access your location and theirs.
Identity Theft: In identity theft, someone else poses as you, which could be very harmful. With access to your personal data, they can communicate with everyone who knows and can, lure them into dangerous situations and even rob them. You are also not safe from the risk of being nailed and charged for something you did not know about. You could also be robbed and harmed.
Threats to Security: Monitoring can make individuals more susceptible to hacking, phishing, and cyberattacks. The data collected can be used to craft convincing social engineering attacks or gain unauthorised access to sensitive accounts, compromising personal and financial security.
Social and Psychological Impact: A third party’s access to your data could affect your mental health. With the invasion of privacy and the fear of being watched, your anxiety levels will rise. This could also lead to panic attacks, all of which will affect one’s mental health.
Asides from these, there are other consequences like discrimination and getting profiled, self-censorship, threats to your security and invasion of privacy; you could go from loving being on the internet to dreading anything with a cellular network.
Strengthening your online privacy: Practical steps for individuals and businesses.
Create strong and unique passwords.
If you have a password that someone random can guess, you need a password change, and you need it soon. Your passwords should be as unique as possible. They should be a mix of numbers and letters, be about 12-characters, a mix of characters and not your name, birthday or popular passwords or phrases.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
2FA means even more security for you. When you enable 2FA, if someone for any reason guesses your password right, they still won’t be able to access your online accounts as they still need to provide figures not available to them. With a 2FA, you get added protection against phishing attacks, password thefts, and credential stuffing.
Carefully share personal information online.
Personal information only belongs in the most secure places. You should avoid putting personal information online on less secure sites and anywhere they’re asked for.
Regularly update software and devices to patch security vulnerabilities.
Just as hackers are constantly working on better ways to get your information, your software developers are also constantly improving the product to protect your information better. So, updating your software occasionally will help you get as much protection as possible. With new updates, developers have addressed common weaknesses that hackers have exploited. Other things to do to protect yourself better are to use secure apps, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks as hackers can access the data of people on the same internet with them, utilize secure cloud storage services and maximise the privacy options available to you on your social media.
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