Michael Goetzman

Privacy - What power do we have?

We live in a futuristic world where most, if not all, human knowledge is just a click or two away. Whether you want to chat with a friend or want to purchase an item, all you need is a host device and a pipe out to the internet. This technology has eased our lives to a great extent. It has become our daily habitual tasks that you’d struggle to avoid, even if you want. 

All this sounds great and optimistic until you understand these tasks leave data trails and comes with a cost. That cost is how the algorithms of all these searches and advertisements work. Your action data is their input, and the appealing ads and control of this information are the output of it. How? Because your information is not safe on online platforms. Exactly who might be able to access your data is not known to you. And even if you know who has access and are not comfortable with it, are you able to control the interruption associated with the specified platform’s data?  Has a bad actor compromised this data on the platform without your or their knowledge?

If any of this resonates with you, this article has got you covered regards some common aspects related to online privacy.

What is Privacy?

Privacy is a common word in our daily lives. We would like to keep certain matters within various boundaries, such as individual, home, or even the office. And honestly, Americans are quite protective of our privacy measures. Each individual has his/her guidelines about the private space and guardrails they want.

Same goes for online privacy. You selectively and unselectively share your personal and financial data on different platforms to access certain functionalities offered by them. The assurance that your data is protected and safe is your fundamental right. However, those rights could have different meanings for companies and individuals. The limitations you want to impose on the access and storage rights of that data is your online privacy.

The international law firm of Winston and Strawn define online privacy as:

The definition of online privacy is the level of privacy protection an individual has while connected to the internet. It covers the amount of online security available for personal and financial data, communications, and preferences.

Let’s dive into online privacy as a serious matter significant for every individual operating on algorithms of the internet and the expectations companies and governments should have.

Online Privacy and Security

Online privacy and security are both the fundamental rights of data accessibility of an individual. Many individuals consider both the terms in the same context, but they hold slightly different meanings in regards their description. Let’s look at two violation types to help understand the difference.

Online Privacy Violation

The act of sharing your data with the application(s) or individual(s) which unknowingly was passed onto third parties you did not allow the particular platform to share. The central aspect here is the potential violation of commitments and generally expected custody and responsibly of your data.

Security Violation 

A more intense form of the preceding scenario. If the data in motion or at rest that is captured or breached of such information by bad actor(s) which leads to harmful consequences for individual(s), then in this data violation, it is the violation of online security. Generally, the debate now becomes did the company do enough to try to protect your information?

So, when we talk about “freedom” in the digital world, both aspects of security and privacy hold immense significance. The question we should be asking is: What is the consumer AND the enterprise risk appetite for both of these categories? Did the organizations do enough to protect the individual rights?

Why is online privacy important?

More basics, when you are wondering why privacy is so significant on the online platforms, remember that your data defines your identity on them. Who you are, what you do, what you like, who you likely may be and you don’t even realize something the computers know. It is the source of corporation’s connection to who you are without physically meeting you. The violation of online privacy can lead to heavy consequences that might affect your day-to-day activities, even hurt your reputation, cause issues years from now… For not only you, but your family, or even people you have never met before.

Plus, imagine a stalker, following you wherever you go and they write notes down on whatever you do… Will feel pretty scary and uncomfortable, right? The same reason we close the bathroom doors, it crosses most people’s appetites. That is why you need online privacy. You do not want just anyone or anything to follow you around on whatever you do and keep a deep year over year record of it for their gain.

A look at statistics

Taking a look at basic statistics can change perspectives regarding the significance of online privacy. Take a look below at some selected research percentages and numbers. Note this is a small snapshot of the bigger picture.

  1. According to the Pew Research Center:

As many as 79% of Americans on the web have concerns about online privacy when it comes to companies.

While not a surprise, that an immense number of people that unconsciously hold concerns of online privacy, but where are the actions people are taking to protect their data?

  • As per the Security magazine:

Cybersecurity statistics conclude that an internet attack takes place every 39 seconds on average.

Every 39 seconds! Okay, I’ve seen this one say everything from 1 second to 60 minutes and other bullshit.. One can’t truly judge the capacity and intensity of cybercrimes, but whatever it is, we know it’s bad and out of control.

  • According to Statista:

21% of email and social media users have experienced a cyberattack at least once.

It clearly shows the idea of cybercrime via email is common and the need for cybersecurity as an essential focus.. but 21%? Come on.. you know it’s >80% if we were lucky.

  • As per the Pew Research Centre:

Just 3% of Americans say they understand how the current laws and regulations regarding online privacy in America today actually work.

It signifies the ideology that we know the risks of cybercrimes. But, we are still not aware of our rights and methodologies for online privacy. 

  • According to Statista:

An annual number of exposed records in the United States in 2019 is 164.68M.

At this point, who hasn’t been exposed… multiple times. For every one announced to the public, there are likely 10 that companies are embarrassed by and are tucking it under the table.

Major online privacy issues

Cybercriminals use various methods to steal data.

“Spying”

By now you should understand whenever you are active on the internet, several trackers are spying on your every action and store your activity. The trackers store the record of your search details, data of each visit, who you interact with, etc. As this information is collected, the primary purpose of this record is to showcase you the advertisements based on your taste and needs. BUT, it is also easy for criminals, evil corporations, governments to reach into this data and use it in a way that can lead to potentially harmful consequences. How long will this data be available? One year, ten years, forever?

Mishandling of Information

How many times have you had to give your personal information to access services offered by specified websites and applications, during applications for jobs, and/or general normal usage? Heck, you may not even enter your own data, it’s extracted from paper documents. Your data, in such cases, is usually stored in databases. Cybercriminals can reach out to this information without any difficulty because databases, until recently, were generally unencrypted.

Third Party Data sharing

So, you dealt with one company, did they use third party providers for analysis and processing of your data? Did the third party also use third parties? How far did your data really travel and who has it? Can they property secure that data? Etc etc, Sooo… many questions here.

Your exact location

Your current location is one of the things you may want to keep private. But with the accessibility requirement of the current location by major applications, it is nearly impossible to block. Everyone has iPhone or Droid, which can track your exact position and activity of travelling. Data of social media applications and popular platforms like Google Maps are stored for a long time.

Data Scraping

This procedure is the collection of information and/or conversations of an individual from websites, databases, or social media applications. The purpose of collecting this data is usually for research, marketing, sales, and/or data analysis. The underlying aspect here is that no consent of the user is taken, along with that he/she is not aware of the purpose of this data usage. It can also lead to the leakage and mishandling of data at times, even if it was publicly assessable.

Social Media applications

We consider these applications a significant part of our lives. Several people cannot even imagine their lives without the involvement of social media. Almost all of the social media applications have faced the allegation of mishandling the data of their consumers. Some of them have been testified before congress about their selling of personal data of its uses. Maintaining privacy on social media applications is one of the most significant elements of online security of our time. More on this as later.

Current online privacy laws

For a long time, there had been no significant online privacy laws or even movement in this area for user protections, and that was because the online world was a “new thing”, laws and policies generally fall behind on new concepts. Fortunately, numerous laws have since defined some limitations and guidelines of online privacy and security. Some of them include:

US Privacy Act of 1974

This law holds significant consideration of the rights of data accessibility held by US government agencies. One of the main aspects of this law states it is lawful for US citizens to access and copy all the data retained by governmental agencies. The correction of information error also lies as the right of an individual. This law abides by the concept of minimization during the collection of data. The law states that sharing information between other agencies, whether federal or non-federal, is restricted and only allowed under certain conditions.

Financial Modernization Act of 1999

This law establishes the baseline of the security and protection of data concerning financial scenarios. It instructs the platform to explain the information they are collecting from the user clearly, along with the purpose of its collection. Plus, the assurance of protection of the collected data is a complete responsibility of the particular platform.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

A good percentage of the users internet include children. So, it is essential to know the rights companies hold regards the data collection about the children. This act states that no one can collect the information of children without his/her parent's approval that signifies the setup of parental consent upon data collections. Along with that, parents should hold the option to opt-out of the data collection anytime they want. 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This law is valid for every European citizen. The law was passed in 2016, and implementation occurred in 2018. The mean idea of this law states that every individual holds the right to know the data that a company record about him/ her. Along with that, the company must get consent of an individual before the collection of data. In addition to that, one can refuse to allow the company to access the cookies or the browsing history of him/her during the time they visit their respective webpage.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) gives consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them. This landmark law secures new privacy rights for California consumers. These rights include knowing about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared. The right to delete most personal information collected from them. The right to opt-out of the sale and distribution of their personal information and the right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights.

Some BIG names

Who are the BIG players? There are some applications and platforms that we significantly use as a component of our daily lives. Many of us hold blind faith in these companies when it comes to data privacy or internet security. We are ready to willingly give our data to these applications without batting an eye.

Facebook

Facebook is likely the most used social media application in the US, if not the world, by millions of individuals around the globe at any moment. Numerous people find it a “trustworthy” and a secure place to establish connections with their friends and to share publicly the insights of their daily lives. Facebook has been recently involved in legalities related to data breaching and violation of online privacy.

The BBC News (2019) states that:                                                                                  

The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection began investigating Facebook in March 2018 after it was revealed that personal data was illegally harvested from an online personality quiz and sold to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm. 

Because of this violation, Facebook was fined 5 billion dollars that stays to be the highest fine ever imposed on a company for the online privacy violation.

Not Surprisingly, it was not the only time Facebook was involved in the mishandling of data. There have been numerous times when Facebook was spotted performing online privacy violations. For example, in the algorithm of the Facebook Newsfeed, Beacon, and Mood-manipulation experiment, etc. If you’d like to rabbit hole into those topics.

Google and YouTube

Whenever we want answers to a question, the foremost thing we do is to GOOGLE it and search around until we get the desired solution. Easy, Isn't it? This also applies to the subsidiary of Google (or Alphabet) that is YouTube. Millions and billions of people use these applications around the globe. But, Google and YouTube have also been alleged for the collection of users' information without their consent and its mishandling.

The press release of FTC on September 04, 2019 states that:

Google LLC and its subsidiary YouTube, LLC will pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that the YouTube video sharing service illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. The $136 million penalty is by far the largest amount the FTC has ever obtained in a COPPA case since Congress enacted the law in 1998.

It highlights the violation of online privacy and security by one of the most known and trusted platforms of Google and YouTube. How far does this really go?

Amazon

Amazon is the most known e-commerce platform in the US, by far. Numerous people use Amazon for the purchase of products. Amazon has moved into more than just e-commerce, they are into film, music, groceries, and countless other areas. Amazon seeks to entice users into signing up for their annual membership so you feel obligated to go through their ecosystems. Amazon collects countless personal data of its users to allow them to access and push further functionalities of it to their users. No surprise, Amazon has also been alleged of many things, such as violations of children's privacy by one of its products known as Echo dot speakers, the voice assistant for the kids. 

The NBC News on May 9, 2019 states that

Now those advocates say the kids' version of Amazon's Alexa won't forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations. For that and other alleged privacy flaws they found while testing the service, they're now asking the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to investigate whether it violates children's privacy laws.

It will not be wrong considering that Amazon is also involved in the online privacy and security violation of so many other areas, but how do you defeat such giants?

Instagram

Instagram is one of the social media applications that is a must-have in your cell phones nowadays. Bought by Facebook in 2012. On Instagram, numerous influencers have a vast circle of followers where they showcase their inspirations and goals on the platform. But, Instagram has also been involved in the violation of online privacy.  

The CPO Magazine on June 3, 2019 states that:

Facebook took yet another blow last week when subsidiary site Instagram was breached, exposing the sensitive data of at least 49 million users. And the leak was caused by yet another unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) server connected to the internet, a trend that has ensnared a disturbing number of high-profile companies in recent years – including Facebook in a previous incident just last month.

So, it may be crystal clear to you by now that none of the online platforms, even the reputed and popular ones are safe from the act of the violation of online privacy. If anything, they dance around their expected obligations and laws to their user base.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the most authentic and go-to applications for gaining awareness of the things that are going on in the world. Almost every individual ranging from the common citizens to the presidents of the countries use Twitter. Twitter has been alleged to be involved in the privacy violation as well. 

The FTC press release of June 24, 2019 states that:

Social networking service Twitter has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information, marking the agency’s first such case against a social networking service.

The FTC’s complaint against Twitter charges that serious lapses in the company’s data security allowed hackers to obtain unauthorized administrative control of Twitter, including access to non-public user information, tweets that consumers had designated private, and the ability to send out phony tweets from any account including those belonging to then-President-elect Barack Obama and Fox News, among others.

All in all, the purpose of bringing these matters in the spotlight is to be aware of the intensity of online privacy violation and how significant it is to take the right steps to keep your information safe. So how do you do it?

Tips to protect your online privacy

So we learned, online privacy is a serious concern. Assurance that your data is not collected without your consent or mishandled is not possible. However, few small to mediums tips, tricks, and techniques can help you to raise the bar of your online privacy. Some of them are as follows:

1.      Know what you post

Social media is a significant part of our daily lives, you control this. We all relish posting our routines, our yummy food pictures, and daily updates on social media for friends and family to follow us on our journey. It may sound overly simple, be conscious of the information you put out on these online platforms. They stay there forever. Ensure that you do not give out any such information that can lead to grave consequences for yourself and others tomorrow, next year, fifty years from now. Your identity is a significant part of your life but also your descendant’s lives as well. The misuse of your actual identity can lead to outcomes you cannot even imagine. Therefore, you could even consider trying to refrain from the usage of social media, or at least, giving out what you consider personal. Attempt to not fall in the trap that you are sharing it only with your “friends” because social media is an open platform where scrapers and cybercriminals have no difficulty in accessing your information and sharing it elsewhere.

2.      Your passwords

Look, this one is really tough. Nowadays, we have so many accounts and passwords to handle that we take them lightly and leniently. We create accounts all over the place. It is a very significant aspect that needs to be handled with care and complete consciousness. One needs to ensure that you have unique passwords that are not easily trackable by anyone. Refrain from the common password’s styles like the number series, important dates, names, common words, that are not only known to the people around you, but easily guessed by bots. Obviously, there are even more simpler ideas, such as being conscious of the people you share your passwords with. Online privacy to a great extent is one or two data points away from a major data loss within. This cannot be understated. Having trouble here? Use password vaults, use sentences, for example: Iloveturkeysandwiches! – see how it has a capital letter, long complexity, and punctuation. Keyboards on mobile are designed for sentences, so it’s fast and easy to type as well. DO NOT REUSE.

3.      Refrain from public storages

It’s easy right? Storing on the many free and paid online public storage platforms. Saving the files that seemingly do not hold any of your personal or sensitive data is alright, or is it?. Refrain from storing your personal information, personal documents, financial data, or even photos on the public storages. The data stored here is likely unencrypted at some phases of the data chain and can easily be accessed by cybercriminals or scrapers. So, do not fall in the pitfall of using public storage as your inventory of the sensitive data. Bots can even use facial recognition on your photos, find out everyone you hang out with by cross comparing these features to other publicly available photos.

4.      Update your privacy settings

All these websites are starting to have complex privacy settings. Normally they bury the good ones, because as you modify them, they lose money. Find them and update your settings on the social media platforms and other applications that you use. Use the internet to help you navigate their tricks. There is an approachable limit of privacy you can obtain by just updating those privacy settings. Which info is allowed for sharing and which is not is your choice! Hence, make sure that you are only enabling that information to be accessed by others that holds no potential harms for yourself.

5.      Your email is YOUR email

Presently, the majority of interestingly complex communication is executed using email addresses. Email address is not ‘just another address’ but is very significant as it can cause numerous issues when mishandled. Ensure that you do not provide your email address to just any website or application. To whom you want to share your email address is your choice and decision. It is always wise to have a spare email address for odd and questionable purposes so that none of your personal information can be targeted by anyone, made into associations of multiple things you are doing.

6.      Choose your search engine

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are popular and go-to search platforms for everyone. The more comfortable they may feel, the more threatening they could be to your data. Choose your search engine so that the accessibility of your data to others is reduced. It is always better to opt for anonymous search engines or the privacy-focused ones. DuckDuckGo or Brave could be some alternative choices. Firefox also has some amazing plugs-ins that can make this easier. Some of them may provide less efficient performance in comparison to Google/Chrome and all, but your information can remain safer on these platforms.

7.      HTTPS-enabled or not?

Whenever you visit any website, do check that if the address contains HTTPS in it. You might be thinking that it is enabled on almost all of the website addresses and/or you are safe on these sites but, that is not the case. Secure transmission of data is not equal to safety of the site. Some of the website addresses are using HTTP you should avoid. HTTPS has an encryption layer that encrypts your data, reducing the chance of stealing and mishandling in transit, but not at rest and not what GETS transmitted. So, this small understanding that can also be useful for you, especially when you are sharing sensitive information. Which leads into our next one.

8.      Know what you download

Be aware of the content of the files you download from online sources, with or without HTTPS. Some of them may contain code that can allow them to track your location or get access to your data. Some could even be more malicious and keylog your system, sending them to bad actors. If you load their code, who knows what could happen. Be mindful of this and ensure that you are not downloading any sort of hidden content. The consequences may not only be the stealing of data but also the destruction of all the stored data of your device.

9.      Encrypted communications

Several platforms are providing communication features to individuals nowadays. Some advertise End-to-End encryption and other privacy/security features, but have been found to be false or difficult to properly implement. Ensure that you choose trustworthy applications or platforms that properly implement the end-to-end encryption so that your conversations stay between you and the other person furthermore are not accessible by the third person. These communications should also delete on each host’s end, otherwise the data is still there.

10.  Say no to public Wi-Fi

Attempt to avoid the use of public Wi-Fi networks. Use your cellular hotspot or at the very least, using a VPN at your endpoint while connecting to public wireless. Public Wi-Fi can lead to the easy access of your data in transit for criminals. Opt for the private Wi-Fi as it offers more security to your data.

11.  Do not link your accounts & unique passwords

Linking your accounts together is a common norm in today's world. The thought behind doing so is the comfortability and ease of access. But, it can lead to the greater risks of data stealing and mishandling. So, ensure to not link the accounts together instead use them independently, with independent one-time use passwords.

12.  Do not stay logged in

After the use of websites or applications, many of us do not log-out of them properly. However, it puts your data at more risk. Criminals can attempt to access your personal information in such scenarios. So, always remember to log out of the websites or applications after use.

13.  Keep it updated

Keep your operating systems, drivers, and browsers + plugins up to date. The purpose of keeping them updated is to ensure a better security level than it was previously. The code and internet impact is growing infinitely by each passing moment, so having an updated versions can help you fight against the cybercrimes and online privacy violations. 

14.  The terms and conditions

Actually reading the Terms and Conditions are one of the neglected and ignored aspects of the online world. We all mark the checkbox unchecked for terms and conditions. Rarely does anyone even read a single word. I get it, major time-saving on the outer surface, but it exposes you giving up rights and data to grave exposures, sharing, and maybe even vulnerabilities as you are giving consent for the things you are unaware of. So, skimming through terms and conditions could be a good tip for the protection of your online privacy. Look for those opt out abilities.

15.  Delete cookies regularly

Cookies are supposed to track your online activity for a better advertisement functionality of the platforms. It acts as a better method for the applications, but it proves to be harmful concerning your data privacy. So, deleting the cookies regularly from your browser can help you secure your data.

16.  Do Not Track feature

Numerous browsers provide users with a “do not track” feature. One can turn this setting on from his/her browser. The purpose is that it informs the applications and websites that are requesting your data that they do not have your consent for data collection. It is not a confirmed method for online privacy, but it can work up to some extent.

17.  Browser extension: disconnect

The browser extension “disconnect” can restrict other websites from tracking your data and online activity. The purpose of this extension is to detect any sort of connection that is made other than the web page you are currently visiting. This process executes automatically. So, having this browser extension can help you secure your online privacy more reliably.

18.  Distinctive passwords

A common practice of several individuals is to use the same password for multiple accounts and websites. If the attacker can access the password of one account, then the other ones can be accessed too. So, it’s always better to have unique passwords for different platforms.

One simple approach (there are other better approaches obviously) could be using sentences as passwords. Mobile devices and keyboard in general are designed for sentences. An example could be Iloveturkeysandwiches! – notice the length, the capital letter and punctuation.

Online Privacy Tools

In addition to these simple tips that can help you advance your online privacy; a few tools can allow you to make your online journey even more secure and protected. Some of them are as follows:

1.      Virtual Private Network

Virtual Private Network is also known as VPN. It is a sound method of protecting your data in transits and making your online data transfers more secure. It blocks the accessibility of third-party applications or middle men from seeing your data. This is getting easier for the end user. There are many VPNs that do not even require you to log-in that makes it even more secure as your traffic is not traceable. 

VPN is a familiar method for privacy nowadays, so whatever VPN client/server arrangement you opt for, make sure that it is authentic and efficient. Another purpose of VPN is to ensure that your exact location is not accessible to anyone as it shifts your location after regular intervals of time also it encrypts all the internet traffic making it secure and protected. VPNs come in a different range of cost. You need to select the one that fits your requirements and budget. 

Examples

Some of the more common VPNs include SecureVPN, NordVPN, ExpressVPN and WindScribe, etc.

Advertisements are a common part of the online voyage. But, concerning part about advertisements is that they also track your online activity and location to collect the data. The purpose of data collection is to take the essence of your choices so that the targeted ads can be showcased to you. Along with the data collection, certain ads may contain insecure information that can affect your stored data. There are different types of ad-blocking applications where all of them hold their distinctive functionalities. 

Examples

Some of the appreciated ad blockers include AdGuard, and uBlock origin, etc.

3.      Antivirus & Malware Protection Software

Antivirus software allows you to detect the number of viruses attacks on your desktop. The purpose of mentioning antivirus software in the online privacy is that if you have downloaded such content or your stored files have been attacked by the non-secure element, antivirus software can help you with the judgement of that so that you can take the right measures within time. 

Examples

Some of the appreciated antivirus software include Bitdefender, Avast, Panda Security and Windows Defender, etc.

4.      Private email services

As mentioned before in the article, the popular platforms have been alleged for the mishandling of data. So, using the known cloud applications like Gmail or Yahoo Mail may not be the right choice regarding online privacy. If you want to protect your data concerning the emails, the best alternative is to opt for private email services. 

Examples

Some of the good private email services include Protonmail, Mailbox.org, and Startmail, or even consider hosting your own server, etc.

5.      Password Manager Applications

Passwords are a significant element of your online security and privacy. But as mentioned earlier, having tons of passwords can not only be difficult to manage but remember. In such scenarios, it can lead to the unwanted mishandling of data and wider data accessibility. So, the solution to this concern is to have a password manager. The password manager performs the job of remembering all the passwords while all you have to do is to remember one master password to the application. The significance of using these apart from the management of your passwords is that it keeps you protected from the viruses which track your entered data that at times lead them to your passwords. 

Examples

Some of the examples of password managers include LastPass, Bitwarden, and NordPass etc.

6.      Protected Web browsers

Having a secure and protected web browser for your daily searches and use can help you in maintaining your online privacy and security. Many of the known browsers are alleged to track the user activity with the built-in advertisement and data collection algorithms. So, the better approach would be to shift to the browsers that come with built-in protection and security. 

Examples

Some of the secure web browsers include Brave, Tor, and Firefox Focus, etc.

7.      Email encryption services

In case, you do not want to opt for the private email and are concerned about the security of your emails, email encryption services are a wise choice. Generally, emails are unencrypted that makes them easy access for cybercriminals. But email encryption services can allow you to encrypt your email that can lead to better privacy and security. The apps ensure that only the targeted user can decrypt the email to understand the message. 

Examples 

Some of the sound email encryption applications include Mailvelope, and EnigMail etc.

8.      Intrusion detection applications

These applications keep your files and data safe from the hackers and cybercriminal attacks. The purpose of these apps is to monitor your device and analyse all the incoming traffic from the internet. It sends you the message regards any error. The significant component of these applications is that the traffic is monitored in real-time so that you can take the right steps and that too within time to keep your data and files safe. 

Examples

Some of the appreciated intrusion detection applications include Snort and OSSEC etc.

9.      Browser extensions

Several browser extensions can allow you to make your online activity protected and secure. These applications prevent your devices from attacks. You can set up the block scripts that can be changed only by you. 

Examples

The examples of browser extensions that can make your online activities safe and private include NoScript and ScriptSafe, etc.

10.  The Operating System

Windows and Mac OS are the most popular operating systems. But, the issue with both of them is that they collect user’s data in a huge amount based on their online activity and location services that can be concerning when it comes to privacy and security. So, a better choice can be to shift to the operating system of Linux to resolve this issue.

Examples

There are too many distros, or flavors of *Unix to recommend. Find one that matches your usage.

But, I get it, it is not easy

Yes, maintaining your online privacy is not an easy task. It requires a bit of discipline and consistency. But, when you make a comparison of the efforts you put in compared to the consequences you may face in case of their absence, you will realize that this discipline is likely worth it. Just like in daily routine, you take all the possible measures of keeping your reputation, identity, and privacy safe, same goes for the online platforms. It’s a balance, just make it a conscious decision.

Do not fall in the pit of this illusional freedom and ease of use that the cloud platforms claim to provide you. While some examples have been discussed previously in the article that explains this point, this is just touching the tip of the iceberg. As time progresses, laws will help you be in charge of your data. Make sure you know what is being done to your information. Fight evil corporations and their misdeeds. They have proven they are incapable of protecting your data.

Conclusion

Online privacy is a serious concern in the present era, you can’t rely on companies to protect the data you allow them to use. Find what powers you have to limit their usage and even to the point of removing your data from their systems. Thinking that you have no fundamental rights regarding online privacy is one of the biggest traps people fall in. Several laws, while still limited, define your rights and methods regarding the privacy and security on these online platforms. Along with that, following some small tips can help you augment your privacy. There are many technical tools available in the market, some of those are even free that help you to keep your information secure and protected. 

So, as promised, we have covered some of the possible aspects related to online privacy. Please share and help others who are less fortunate to be able to tackle their own privacy. The righteous individuals will prevail.

~Michael Goetzman

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