Let's admit it. We trust our computers more than almost everything (and everybody) else. We put there our name(s), addresses, passwords, important documents, “crush” photos and selfies, blooper videos, music projects among others. We jot down there our schedule. We provide financial information to shop or to pay our games. We use it for navigation and communication.
Own it, we cannot live without gadgets. But does your computer trust you? Should you trust your computers?
Let us say for example, you posted your basic information on Facebook. That includes your name, school, birthday, address, email addresses and telephone numbers. This can already be used for identity theft. Thieves use this to make fake profiles in social media accounts and buy and sell accounts.
You posted on Facebook. You were in a particular coffee shop in Ortigas with the GPS information in it. You added photos and tagged it with your friends. In effect, the social site, the app, another apps and companies connected to your account to eavesdrop what you were doing and your location. Later on, you were in surprised logging in the same device with a different app seeing your recent searches, Facebook “likes” and preferences, many intrusive advertisements and other suggestions related to it. You logged in to anotherdevice and it also happens in your browser. You then found out that apps in your smartphone are looking for your usage pattern as the base of their proposals to you.
Your computer software also means a lot to your privacy.
Just a few weeks ago, experts identified in Google a remotely installed audio-listening software without the consent of the computer owner. It is activated by default. Primarily used for Google's voice command, the audio software can be a potential privacy threat as it “always listens” to the people in front of the computer.
There are also concerns with security software such as antivirus. Reports recently indicated that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been reverse engineering software of some security companies to be able to use metadata aiding their surveillance. Security software has high administrative privileges that can fully access your computer and be used for exploitation, such as this. NSA has partnered with different companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Yahoo for the same reason through its Corporate Partner Access. NSA may get user information or metadata without warrant.
Software companies also has a lot of security issues. According to a study by Webroot Secutiry Team, there is a “384 percent increase in total threats to Android devices over 2012, and found more than 40 percent of the Android apps analyzed were classified as either malicious, suspicious, or unwanted”. Other smartphone OS also have increased risk from malware.
With all these interests, here are some of the few guidelines that can help you:
1. Restrict the information you share in the internet especially sensitive and confidential ones.
2. If you can, use applications and operating systems that come from trusted sources. You can look for software reviews and pick what you want to install. We recommend Mozilla Firefox and Ubuntu. These are free and full-featured alternatives which also provides technical support.
3. Disable location services for your devices and apps. Review apppermissions and uninstall some of your apps based on your preference and privacy concerns. Remove apps that you don't use so it won't be activated every time you are connected to the internet. Some apps have options not to show ads and not to track you, so you may opt to choose whatever matter to you. Moreover, d not connect to data services if it not necessary.
You may also install a personal firewall (Windows) so that unsual internet traffic can be filtered and blocked.
These tips may help you to protect your online privacy. Remember that the internet is like a community. You must not trust everyone and not everybody trusts you.
If you have more tips and tricks, we are more than happy to hear. Contact us!