Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy
A pressing issue of recent times is the question regarding how private our search tabs are on the internet. Studies on numerous social media sites and internet search engines have shown that these tend to collect and store data regarding accounts and searches. The whole debate surrounding how secure the internet really is, has compelled CEOs of various platforms to provide answers to the questions people might have regarding internet privacy. What is internet privacy? Internet privacy refers to the right of personal privacy on the internet against storing and surveillance of user data for various purposes such as selling to third parties, obtaining political or criminal gains and so on. Internet privacy basically comes under the broader issue of data privacy. Modernization has come with its own evils, and today when almost all kinds of work can be done online, the individual surveillance of users may sound far-fetched but is not totally impossible. The notion that the internet is a free and safe space has come under suspicion following numerous threats to online privacy. Internet privacy is primarily concerned with protecting user information. Internet users may protect their privacy through controlled disclosure of personal information. Options such as using firewalls and software that block spam can be considered a safe way to protect one’s internet privacy. What are the threats to internet privacy? •Vulnerabilities in web applications: Any magnitude of a data breach is possible if a web application is not built in a manner that can ward off phishing sites and hackers. Patching procedures over the internet need to be constantly updated in order to combat possible system hacks. •Non-transparency in privacy policies and terms and conditions: Sometimes, online users sign up for various services without cross-checking and such services may offer incomplete or false privacy policies. They can make users sign faulty consent forms to avoid legal complications. All online companies need to provide foolproof privacy policies and the legal system needs to incorporate special laws to deal with such situations. •Storing personal data: Many one-time use services require personal data from online users, which they may record and store without the user’s consent. This can lead to data breaches and unscrupulous use of the user’s personal information. •Cookies: Cookies assist with automatic access to certain portals and services on the internet, for which they store user history. Cookies are used for completely legitimate purposes to aid in surfing, but there have been instances of abuse, where cookies have been used to track people based on search history and data. In case of websites that are frequently visited by an online user and require a password, cookies make it easy so they do not have to sign in every time by remembering the password. Cookies also keep a track of one's preferences to display websites that are of similar interests. However, one of the most common ways of theft is hackers taking one's username and password that a cookie saves. Cookies can be disabled in web browsers but this may limit the functionality of many websites. •Search engines: Search engines like Google and Yahoo! can keep a track of the user’s web history and also find personal information of the user by tracking down the IP address. While they claim that access to such information is necessary for proper and smooth functioning, the data so collected can be used in unethical ways as well. •Personal photographs: Paranoia is no longer the reason why people are advised against putting up personal pictures on the internet because they can be accessed by literally anyone. Furthermore, photographs posted without the prior consent of an individual is a gross violation of his/her personal rights. •Social networking sites: Social profiling caused by Web 2.0 ensures the sharing of information on the internet in collaboration with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Instagram. Although there is considerable debate regarding the fact that personal information is divulged knowingly, it does not automatically mean that the said information will be misused by the company. Individual privacy settings on these sites may be used by online users to selectively divulge information but that does not keep it hidden from the company’s database. •Malware, spyware, phishing and web bugs are dangerous threats to internet privacy because these are designed to look harmless but can lead to possible technical warfare. How to reduce risks to internet privacy? The biggest corporations of the internet have known to sell user data for huge profits. While it is difficult to know for sure if one’s online data is private, there are numerous means to make it possible. These include: •Keeping a low profile on social privacy settings. Only share information with people who are known personally. •Using applications with end to end encryption. •Changing passwords every once in a while. •Carefully review permissions for mobile apps and browser extensions. •Staying private on wifi networks. •Disabling cookies for suspicious-looking websites. These are simply some of the ways in which one can attempt to stay secure online. However, user data is always available to the online corporations and necessary laws need to be implemented to make sure that personal information on the internet stays secure.
Source: https://www.purevpn.com/blog/what-is-internet-privacy-scty/

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