An In-Depth Look At The Evolution of Internet Privacy
As more and more companies start to transform big data into useable information, the questions and concerns around internet privacy continue to grow. Individual users want to ensure their personal information is secure, especially while using online banking sites, social media, and email.
Massive data breaches and more advanced hackers not only create concern for consumers and businesses, but they also create opportunities for advancements in internet privacy. Yes, it’s spinning a negative into a positive, but it’s a massive area of growth in the tech world today.
Everyone wants their information to be secure and protected. If you’re interested in this field, you have an opportunity to develop tools that can give people peace of mind while using technology versus avoiding it altogether. In this post, we’re outlining the significant occurrences around internet privacy and some of the innovations that are helping people keep their information secure.
What is Internet Privacy?
Internet privacy, sometimes known as cybersecurity, is the level of security around personal data shared via the Internet. This term reflects a variety of factors, techniques, and technologies used to protect sensitive and private data, communications, and preferences.
Simple steps to increase users’ Internet privacy include:
- Using preventative software applications including anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam, and firewalls
- Checking reviews and security of shopping websites before making purchases
- Avoid exposing personal data on websites with lower security levels
- Clear the browser’s cache and browsing history on a consistent basis
- Always use very strong passwords consisting of letters, numerals, and special characters
The Evolution of Internet Privacy
Since the introduction of the Internet, privacy has been a concern. But the evolution of online shopping, social media, and smart home technology has made it even easier for people to share information and expose their personal data. Once it’s in the wrong hands, it’s a problem.
In 2014, the New York Times reported that contractors and employees of Cambridge Analytica acquired the private Facebook data of tens of millions of users. It was then used to sell psychological profiles of American voters to political campaigns without consent. This instance was a major scandal and put Facebook in hot water with regulators and users. It was also one of the first times people started to worry about their social media use and its consequences seriously.
Since then, Internet privacy has continuously redefined itself. Specifically, more regulators are stepping up to help protect consumers. Most notably, the GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and associated regulations have forced companies to rethink how they handle, store, and protect customer data. Creating a more productive and enforceable approach helps build a more transparent disclosure from companies once a hack has been discovered.
We’re not in the clear, given the constant changes to protect information. Hackers are still getting more sophisticated and finding ways to break the lock and get access to sensitive information.
Most recently, Nest products have come under fire with multiple users reporting terrifying hackings into their cameras. Google’s, the owner of Nest, response seemingly blames the consumers saying that they need to create stronger passwords. Whether or not it’s the right response, consumers still live in a time where it’s necessary to take control of their security, including the regular updates of passwords and credentials.
Finding the Root of Internet Security Concerns
Cybersecurity becomes a concern for really a straightforward reason — money. The fundamental model sustaining the Internet is based upon the exchange of user data for free service. According to Albert Gidari, the Consulting Director of Privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, as long as advertising dollars drive the growth of the Internet, it’s going to be challenging to regulate users’ information.
We are going to have to rely more heavily on tech companies to be accountable for the data they receive and disclose it responsibly.
Tools that Help Increase Internet Security
There are plenty of apps and tools that help increase cybersecurity by protecting how users’ information is shared.
Wireshark is a network protocol analyzer that shows what’s happening on a network at a microscopic level. The tool live captures and analyzes traffic offline, like communication between two internet protocol addresses or Domain Name Systems queries on a network. The government, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations use this app.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are two of the world’s most popular messaging apps. They’re both owned by Facebook, which is notorious for collecting users’ personal information at a rapid rate. Signal focuses on privacy. The app encrypts users’ messages and hides virtually all of the metadata, including who sent the message. It’s one of the most secure messaging apps available.
If you need to find loopholes, like insecure passwords and physical file paths in libraries, Websecurify can help. It scans dozens of pages of web applications and finds mistakes. It also automatically creates screenshots of problem areas to help create fast and easy audit reports.
Google tracks and gathers users’ information with every search term and click. They then use that to sell to advertisers. It’s just the nature of the beast. DuckDuckGo has the same search results based on algorithms but it does not store personal information about its users or their searches. It also doesn’t track their activity around the web once they’ve left a site. It’s a privacy-first search engine.
There are plenty of ways to increase internet privacy, and as we’ve outlined, the regulations are constantly evolving. With that being said, there are lots of opportunities for niche jobs to continue innovating in this field.
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