The internet has made it very easy for people all across the world to stay connected with one another. Access to information, services, and people is possible for pretty much anyone with an internet connection today. But while this has brought many positive changes to how people live and connect, it has also caused some very serious concerns.
One of the main concerns of being part of the internet, especially of social media platforms like Facebook, is that your data is often not private. Due to this, cybersecurity and data privacy have become really hot topics in the past few years, and people are now realizing how important it is to protect their personal information when they’re online. All it takes is one data breach, and you could potentially become a target for cyber crimes like identity theft, blackmail, and phishing attacks. To protect yourself from such issues, you should at least know what cybersecurity is all about.
What is Cybersecurity and Data Privacy?
The basic idea of data privacy deals with the way in which some information is handled based on its importance. For example, if you go out and meet someone on the street, you might be okay with telling them your name. But if they start asking about your address or other personal aspects of your life, you’ll likely keep that information private. However, you would be okay with sharing all of that information when you’re opening a bank account.
So, essentially, data privacy and cybersecurity deal with how the different types of information people have given online are taken care of and distributed. In today’s digital age, both of these aspects of the digital world are very important. If you don’t know why then reading a little about cyber crimes will give you an idea of how criminals use leaked information to target people. A well-written cyber crime essay is sometimes all you need to understand why information security, data privacy, and cybersecurity are becoming so important these days.
Why is it Important?
Data privacy is important for the same reasons why you wouldn’t tell a stranger on the street where you live or your credit card number. When your private information gets into the hands of people with nefarious motives, bad things can happen. On an individual level, this could lead to identity theft, unauthorized credit card use, and blackmail. On the governmental level, the issues become even bigger. Losing information to an enemy state could have devastating consequences, for example.
The knowledge of such issues is important for people who want to be mindful of their personal information floating around in the wrong spheres of the internet. The problem is that these days, it’s very hard to know exactly what kind of information you’re giving away to a service or an app. Those long ‘terms and conditions’ that you always agree to without reading mention a company’s data privacy laws, but they often do so vaguely or in terms that are confusing.
The three main ways in which you could potentially lose control over the privacy of your data are:
The massive scandal involving Cambridge Analytica back in 2018 showed how some ‘third-party’ companies could illegally access people’s data from social media platforms. There are many apps that allow users to sign in by using one of their social media accounts instead of creating a new account. These apps are then able to get some of the data that users have on their social media accounts. Cambridge Analytica, for example, was found to have accessed the information of over 50 million Facebook users illegally.
Social media platforms often track a lot more of people’s lives than they realize, which can become very dangerous in the event of a breach.
Facebook and Google were found to be participating in a US surveillance program by the name of Prism. Through this program, the US government was able to collect data from these two services without the knowledge of their users. So whatever you tell social media platforms about yourself may end up in the hands of a government agency if they require some insight.
Hackers and criminals all around the world constantly hack into online platforms and steal people’s personal information. While some of the data you have on social media accounts might not be very important, other information like your payment details definitely is. A data breach, therefore, is a major cybersecurity threat for everyone.
What Can Be Done?
In order to protect your own information safe while you’re online, you can follow some of these simple steps:
Go to the ‘privacy’ sections of your social media accounts and provide the minimum possible information to these websites. Social media platforms thrive on selling customer data to third parties - that’s how they stay free. So, in order to reduce the amount of data you are providing to these services, make sure you carefully analyze your privacy settings.
Use different passwords for all your accounts. This is a very important part of personal information security. If you use the same password across different accounts, then a hacker only needs to gain access to one of your accounts to get their hands into all of your other ones too.
When you’re out and about in public places, try to use a VPN to essentially hide yourself from possible hackers because a VPN will encrypt whatever you’re doing online.
Using a VPN to encrypt your activity when on a public internet connection is a great way to protect your privacy.
Be mindful of what information is required by the apps and services you use. When you download an application on your phone, for example, you can see what things it needs access to. Some of the access is genuinely required for an app to function. But if a new wallpaper app requires access to your microphone or your contacts, then that’s a red flag.
Information security, data privacy, and cybersecurity are some of the most important fields of study these days simply because our data is becoming the most valuable currency. Social media websites offer a lot of services and possibilities without taking a penny from the users, but it’s important to be mindful of the ‘why’. Whenever you are using a service where you’re not paying any money, chances are you’re selling your personal information to it, whether you know about it or not. Being a little careful about what services you use and what kinds of security measures you take for your own accounts can lead to a much better overall security of your personal data.
Licenciada en Bellas Artes y programadora por pasión. Cuando tengo un rato retoco fotos, edito vídeos y diseño cosas. El resto del tiempo escribo en MA-NO WEB DESIGN END DEVELOPMENT.