Personal information is one of the most important things you can protect, and good cyber security isn’t just about a firewall and carefully checking emails, it’s about being smart and safe. Don’t let the internet take that away from you. Learn more below!
How many times a day do we use web browsers? Search engines? If it’s not more than 20, you’re not a millennial. If it’s not more than once, you are probably living under a rock (or you’ve been on the internet waaaaay too long today). The fact is everyone uses the internet. And since we do, all of us are subject to information being recorded about us. I mean, more than filling out forms of course.
When we search “facebook”, our browsers and search engines record it. Next time we type “f”, you can bet Facebook is going to be a suggested search. When we look at camping tents, or shoes, or collectible Beanie Babies, ads will relentlessly tempt us with exactly what we want to see.
Why? Because that information is valuable. And ISPs (Internet Service Providers), Facebook, Google, Apple, and others all can profit by selling that personal information to advertisers. And they do.
Say goodbye to privacy.
How can you be more private online? Well, the FCC governs how much these companies are allowed to divulge, and there are ways to opt-out. If you sign in to your ISP account, you can usually find a way to do it. AT&T and Comcast both offer options, as shown in the screenshots below.
You just watched a clip from one of my favorite movies is Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. Psycho Sam wears a colander to prevent the government from “trackin’ ya”. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) work much better than colanders, and do exactly what we are trying to do, mask our browsing. ISPs can’t see that data because VPNs encrypt outgoing information. Be careful when using a free VPN though. In 2015, Hola, a free VPN service, was found to be selling customer’s idle bandwidth to other, paying customers.
This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed personal information being sold or purchased by big business (check out this Roomba article!). It could, however, be the first time you ever ask yourself the following question. If browsing information can be bought, can it be stolen?
It might not be your Social Security number at risk (No love to Equifax here), but information could be collected so that your habits and personality could be exploited. Maybe you’ve seen technophobic videos informing consumers that the internet will rule their life, or heard accounts of people who were not openly gay, but had Facebook suggest events and ads publicly to them. No matter the circumstance, personal information is personal, and should stay that way. There’s no telling what someone could do with private web browsing information, but it could create insane phishing schemes, perhaps the most effective yet. Don’t let your personal information be stolen, and consider the effects of having it be sold to advertisers, selling you exactly what you’re looking for.