If you ask the average internet user what concerns they have when they go online then I imagine that they would probably mention threats such as viruses and phishing attempts as being the prime ones.
A little further down the list, or at least I hope its on their list, would be the issue of their privacy.
In a world which seems to be monitored more closely by the day I certainly value my rights to view what I want without others having the ability to know about it.
There are, of course, other legitimate concerns about privacy, such as the use of spyware which can forward information about you to third parties for a variety of purposes to do with advertising and far more worrying possibilities too.
We live in interesting times.
The age of the internet has opened up a realm of new possibilities in terms of doing business, living our lives and communicating with others.
The downside to that is the fact that it carries risks as more and more personal information is transferred electronically.
Most users of the internet will have shared a vast array of information with others, such as their names, telephone numbers, addresses, bank account numbers, or credit card details.
Sure, they may have known who they were communicating with, or only entered data on secure sites, but that information is ‘out there’ all the same.
The majority of internet users wrongly assume that all of their personal information is private and that they things they search for online are only known to them.
Not only is that wrong, its also arrogant presumption.
If you’re not extremely careful then somebody at some time is going to gain access to some or all of your personal information.
Here are some of the ways in which they can do it –
A cookie is a tool that is designed to track a web surfer’s internet use.
Whenever a user lands on a web page that site’s server will receive a request for information and will then send the contents of the page to the visitor’s browser.
The visitor’s computer then stores a cookie on their hard drive, often without the visitor having any knowledge of that fact.
Cookies can store all sorts of information, such as a website’s URL, or data entered into a field, or even credit card information if a purchase has been made.
Generally speaking, cookies can be useful as they will lead to previously visited web pages loading faster in the future as well as remembering information that you may have previously entered whilst on the site in question.
However, it is important to remember that they may contain other data that you are not even aware of.
In order to get online in the first place you will need to connect through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Therefore, it is possible that your ISP could log everything you are doing,
In fact in many countries, including the UK, it is now standard practice to do so, as required by Big Brother the government.
Your provider should have information on how they tell the snoops absolutely everything protect your privacy.
Many computers are set up to log all computer activity, either by default or because a user has set them up to do so.
If someone else gained access to your computer and everything has been logged then they will then have access to all that data.
This is why it is so important to have a firewall amongst other security deterrents.
Spyware surreptitiously enters computers in order to monitor what the user is doing and also to present them with specific content or advertising.
Spyware can be annoying because it increases the amount of advertising that you may see as well as affecting your computer’s performance.
Additionally, it could also be used to transfer your confidential information to third parties.
There are several reasons why a third party would wish to violate your privacy and that ranges from showing you advertising targeted to your surfing habits to more nefarious purposes such as identity theft.
Forget everything you have learned about how people in history have sought power.
In the internet age everything has changed and information has become the most valuable commodity of out time.
Its no longer so much who you know as what you know that will get you places in life.
The only person who can safeguard your information on the internet is YOU.
Here’s some quick ideas on how you can do that –
- changing your passwords on a regular basis
- install and configure a firewall
- run an effective anti-virus program
- be choosy about which websites you visit
- do not disclose sensitive information to anyone
The internet can be an amazing source of information.
Make sure no-one can use it to find out too much about you!