The importance of internet security


March 21, 2015
photo credit: Crackers via photopin (license)

photo credit: Crackers via photopin (license)

The internet is something which people use all the time from checking their Facebook accounts all the way to researching information for the next project. How secure is the internet though? When typing in a search phrase on Google, what assurance is there that nobody else is peering over your shoulder watching?

As recently as 10 years ago, this wasn’t really a problem. Data was secure and unlogged statistically almost 80 percent of the time. The only major worry was someone who was physically breathing down your neck to see what you were doing online. The times have changed, however. Right now, there are a large number of companies which hide behind large terms and conditions which you accept without a thought to get a service. In reality, almost everything that you put out online is being recorded and stored “somewhere” on a hard drive rack.

A large example of this is Google, the search engine that the majority of people use. Its services extend now from internet searching to emails and even maps. What they don’t tell you is that most things that you type are logged in some form or another. Every search that you type in is registered in a database which is then sold to advertisers. While the methods vary, Google likes to target advertisement banners and links towards you based on what you have searched for. While it may appear harmless, it helps Google get a profit.

If you have location services enabled and use Google Maps, you’ll find that your location has been logged and drawn in on a map. Remember, you may only be able to access your own data. Those who run Google, however, have access to the entire thing. Who knows what they are really doing with the data. You can see an example of this located here. Merely login with your Google account, and your locational data should appear if you didn’t disable to hard-to-find location services settings on your mobile device.

When you type something online, it’s a good bet that it’s being logged. People often say, “Be careful what you put online. It never goes away.” While this statement isn’t 100 percent correct, it’s very good to treat it like it is. You don’t know what is stored where unless you have a good understanding on how things are logged online.

There are a few methods to keep yourself anonymous while online. Most of them may seem rather inconvenient. However, it may be the only true way to keep your data hidden.

  • Don’t make any accounts – When you sign up for a service, you are agreeing to their terms and conditions. Read the fine print if need be. Know what you’re getting into.
  • Use a service such as a Proxy or Virtual Private Network (VPN) – These mask your identity and help you stay anonymous while browsing the internet. While these become pointless if you give account details manually though an account, if you browse without any accounts, these will do very, very well in keeping your identity hidden.
  • Block Scripts – Scripts are processes which run in the background when you use certain websites. If you find an ad blocker or some sort of program which blocks scripts as well, you may see a large amount of advertisements disappear.
  • Be careful what you install – Internet Security isn’t only what you use on the web-browser. When you install a game or some other program, you may be agreeing to some data provision which you aren’t aware of right away. Viruses and other malware can also find their way to you through programs you install, providing information to potentially malicious users.

It’s not very easy to stay hidden on the internet, and in most cases, you probably do not need to be. It’s good however, to be aware of what is being done with your data.

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