Each person has his own necessities of life. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow popularized the idea that human needs can be ranked from simpler to higher levels and depicted this in the form of a pyramid. Its second stage is safety needs, the desire for a sense of security. If some years ago we were afraid to walk the streets at night with the fear of being robbed or physical assault, now there is one more fear that has been added to the list.
We are also worried about protecting our data and privacy on the Internet. More and more users of the global network claim that there is no privacy on the Internet and come up with schemes to protect themselves. The Internet has greatly simplified our lives, but at the same time, it has made us feel as unsafe as in a deserted street late at night.
If you still believe that the Internet is a holy place and can remain completely anonymous there, get ready that this myth is going to be debunked at the moment. For reasons of your safety, of course.
If we share our photos, geolocation, plans and other private details on social media, it already means that we have made up our minds not to stay private on the Internet. This is the simplest and most obvious example. However, it is needed to dig deeper to understand how serious this issue is.
Before publishing any information, you should think twice because we are still being watched, data is still being collected both massively and selectively, and then shared without our consent. Every day we leave the footprints on the Internet mentioning the language we use, the city we live in, the device we post from. All these data make it possible for someone to identify a person even if he hasn’t mentioned his name.
Your IP address is always transmitted to the website server. Your activity is easy to be tracked identifying your browser configuration and browsing history, to be more precise, cookies. Not the chocolate ones.
There are lots of methods and services that have the power to establish a link between an online identity and your real self, and then get your full personal profile: home address, income level, real estate info, etc. What is more, there are commercial data-broker services that aggregate data from many sources and it is as easy for them as one, two, three to find you online and offline.
“It is now both technologically and financially feasible for corporations and governments to collect and store records of almost all of our activities, records that never would have existed in the past”, – Ben Wizner.
They are tirelessly tracking our activity on the web and storing records every minute. Even if you have never done anything wrong and offended anybody online, you do have to worry about surveillance. Any information can be used and interpreted in such a way that it will even play against you as a result.
Have you ever thought about where companies get your phone numbers to send you information about upcoming promotions, for example? You might be surprised as those are brands or services which you have never appealed to before. All the telephone numbers as well as birth dates, and, in some cases, driver’s license and credit card numbers sometimes can be leaked, and thereby this can do us harm. Someone may suppose that this is convenient enough when you are offered, with the help of targeted advertisements, for example, all that you need. It looks like everything is customized to fit our needs. But do not be under a delusion. To believe in the existence of privacy equals self-deception. Be conscious of your Internet behavior and always keep in mind that Big Brother is watching you!
Stop using the Internet at all and change your fashionable smartphone to the good old keypad Nokia. These are very radical measures for residents of the 21st century.
You are likely to master that your personal security and anonymity on the Internet is pure fiction. You are not able to protect your privacy and data security from the government thus it is impossible to completely stay anonymous on the Internet. Nevertheless, you can take some steps toward saving your privacy and make hackers work cut out to gain your personal data.
Please note: using “private browsing” or “incognito” modes does not guarantee you website anonymity. The services and sites are able to identify you using the IP address, those same cookies, and browser configuration.
Keep in mind that none of the tools can entirely stop tracking and collecting the data. If you are the Internet user (you are definitely are), consider that you have signed a virtual petition and allowed to infiltrate your private life. This is inevitable.
The most agile Internet users even become good at living two lives. They have developed a “spare” life under a fabled name, and all the other related details to share with random people and use on the Internet. However, not everyone can afford such a “luxury”.
Sometimes people can build a cult for anonymity: they do not register on social networks, do not pay with a card, do not order packages to their real address, etc. Nevertheless, you can just be more careful. For example, do not use your main SIM card as well as an email address for registration on sites, downloads. Do not open the floodgates to all sorts of spam, giving out your email address and phone number right and left.
It is also necessary to be attentive with the groups on social media which you are a member of. The list of these groups you will tell more about you than the publications on the page.
One of the most important issues you need to take into account is to hide your IP address to avoid your geographic location being determined. You can use a proxy server, a virtual private network (VPN) or TOR that have been already mentioned above.
These are basic rules to maintain Internet hygiene. If you are a zealot of anonymity, invest in reputable services and programs to be confident in your protection.
It is quite obvious that you should protect all the information that is valuable to you. Here is the accurate list of examples:
You should never forget that you are naked on the Internet. However, you can cover your body with several broad leaves like our ancestors did a million years ago. Believe in the fact that it is not you anymore who manage the devices, these are the devices which are in charge of you. Reasonable vigilance has never hurt anybody. Do not confide in the Internet too much info. Do not share very personal things, and thus you will make several steps towards self-defense on the web.