Many of you are probably wondering why you should be concerned about privacy and security if there’s nothing you’re trying to hide. To quote Mikko Hypponen:
****You may not have much to hide, but you do have a lot to protect.Mikko Hypponen
What exactly does he mean? Let us break it down. It’s no secret that we live in a world where our personal information is constantly at risk. Whether it’s our credit card number, our medical records, or our social media accounts, it seems like there’s always someone trying to get their hands on our private data. So, does information privacy and security matter?
The short answer is yes. Information privacy and security are extremely important. In today’s digital age, our personal information is more valuable than ever before. If our data falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to exploit us financially, emotionally, or even physically.
Now, let us break this down in detail. But first, let us demystify one of the biggest digital misconceptions, which I still fall victim to, of confusing information security and information privacy.
What is information security?
Information security, also known as infosec, is the practice of protecting information by mitigating information risks. It’s all about reducing the probability that someone will use your data in a harmful way while keeping the data available to those who need it. For example, you don’t want just anyone to have access to your bank account, but you also want to be able to access it yourself whenever you need to check your balance or transfer funds. That’s where information security comes in: it comes up with ways to keep unauthorized parties out of your account and make sure that only you can access it.
What is Information Privacy?
Information privacy is the right to keep Personally Identifiable Information (PII) out of the public eye. It’s an important concept to be aware of because it deals with current issues, like how much information a search engine can keep on you and how much data an app can track about you.
You know: all the stuff you do online. And when you go shopping and they ask for your email. And when you go to a website and they ask for your location. And even when you go to a brand’s store and they ask for your birthday… all that stuff—it’s private, and people don’t have a right to know it. They can ask, but it’s up to you if you want to share it or decline to share it. A person has the right to know that Google is tracking their searches and what kind of patterns are being derived from those searches. An app that tracks a person’s location to offer them more relevant ads can still be violating a person’s information privacy if they do not state clearly how the data is being used, who else might see it, and how long they will keep it.
What Exactly Are We Trying to Protect?
People may believe it is all about what they are doing, which is only a small part of the picture. However, online privacy has less to do with what you do and more to do with who you are and what you do. Data has a high value on the internet. It’s been stolen, sold, gathered, and analyzed. Data is the new oil!
Privacy encompasses a wide range of issues. There are two aspects to who you are: what you do and who you are not. Your personally identifiable information (PII), which includes your name, date of birth, address, Social Security number, phone numbers, home address, bank accounts, credit history, work, history, travel habits, and anything else about your life, define who you are and is information that is readily available to anyone who might be interested in them.
What you do includes the searches you conduct, the websites you visit, the articles you read, and even the purchases you make on the internet. The problem is that privacy is a crisis. The internet has created an environment that makes it easier than ever for people to harvest your information. And this can impact you in many ways.
Chances are that whenever you download an app, visit a website or use a social media platform, the company is collecting data on you. With the increased amount of actions people are doing online through their computers and mobile devices today, such as making purchases, looking up medical conditions, arranging vacations, and interacting with friends and relatives, companies are inadvertently given a huge digital paper trail of data about individuals. Even if this data may not be PII, these companies still track what you do on the Web and collect that data to form a clearer picture of you.
Why Should You Care?
A simple answer would be, that they are using your information against you! But how? You might ask … Let us discuss that:
Unsolicited marketing (marketing manipulation)
It’s no secret that companies are constantly collecting data on our online activity. They do this for a variety of reasons, including targeted advertising and marketing research. However, some companies go a step further and use our personally identifiable information for unsolicited marketing purposes. This practice raises serious privacy concerns and can have a manipulative effect on our purchasing decisions.
When companies use our personal information for marketing purposes without our consent, it is a violation of our privacy rights. This type of marketing manipulation can be very persuasive, and it can influence our purchasing decisions in a way that we may not even be aware of. In some cases, it can even lead to us making impulse purchases that we wouldn’t have otherwise made.
Selling private information eg medical records
The internet has made it easier than ever for people to buy and sell private information. This includes medical records, which can contain sensitive personal information. selling this type of information can have serious privacy implications. For one thing, it can be used to exploit people financially. If someone knows your medical history, they could use it to blackmail you or extort money from you.
They could also use it to make decisions about your insurance coverage or employment. Even if the information isn’t used to exploit you directly, it could still be damaging to your reputation if it gets into the wrong hands. If your medical records were made public, it could embarrass you or damage your relationships. In some cases, it could even put your life at risk.
Credit card fraud
There is no question that credit card fraud is a serious problem. In fact, it’s estimated that credit card fraud costs businesses billions of dollars each year. But what you may not know is that your personal information could be used to commit credit card fraud. There are a few ways that criminals can use your PII to commit fraud. One is by opening up new credit card accounts in your name and running up huge balances that you’ll be responsible for paying off. Another way is to apply for loans in your name and then never make any payments on them, ruining your credit score in the process. And finally, criminals can use your PII to file false tax returns and collect any refunds that are due to you.
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. Identity theft is a real thing and is when someone takes your personal information to commit crimes or fraud under your name. And the effects can be devastating for you. You could end up with thousands of dollars in debt to go along with a criminal record, and then have problems getting jobs, renting an apartment, or even getting approved for insurance.
In the US alone, Over 10 million Americans are victims of identity theft every year, and it can take months to clear up problems caused by the thief. Even after it is cleared up, identity theft still affects the victim’s credit rating and purchasing power. Identity theft has become more common with the rise of Internet shopping. Hackers have many sophisticated ways of getting your personal information. You may never know until it is too late and some criminal steals your identity.
Stalking and harassment
Online stalking is when someone uses the internet to stalk or harass you. This can include sending you unwanted messages or emails, posting threatening or abusive comments on your social media, or even trying to hack into your accounts. Stalking isn’t just annoying: it’s dangerous. Stalkers can become obsessed with their targets and act out violently toward them. In extreme cases, they can cause physical harm or death. Technology has enabled stockers to track their victims more efficiently and more accurately than ever before.
The sad thing about all these is that companies want to convince you there is no way to protect yourself so that they can sell a product to do it for you. I will teach you otherwise. Subscribe to the newsletter to stay updated.
This is probably one of the biggest problems when it comes to information privacy. No matter how hard online companies try to protect your privacy, some agencies have the power to get access to any information about you and your online activities.
For instance, In the US, The NSA developed ECHELON, a spy network that monitors communication around the world, FinCEN which views personal financial information in real-time, xKeyscore which instantly, wiretaps someone’s online conversations by only knowing their email, FASCIA allows them to track cellphones worldwide. Optic Nerve stole almost two million private yahoo images and PRISM allows the NSA to tap into personal private data and tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple.
This is all on the surface, but it’s still fascinating to hear about. Hundreds of these programs are available. The government is increasingly tracking the travels of ordinary persons as a matter of policy, rather than on the basis of a warrant and reasonable suspicion. Any criticism is met with the retort that if someone is doing something wrong, they should have nothing to hide. We are losing our privacy to the government, and as a result, we are becoming more vulnerable to its control. In his Ted talk, “Why Privacy Matters,” Glenn Greenwald discusses concerns behind nonstop surveillance. I recommend that all of you watch this. It is phenomenal.
Edward Snowden says:
Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
Does the government actually keep us secure?
I will argue my case with the following evidence. In 2013, a group analyzed terrorism cases involving the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records and found they were completely nonessential to preventing terrorist attacks. In 2014. Another report echoed these conclusions, saying that traditional investigative methods like tips from communities and intelligence operations have been much more effective than the NSA bulk surveillance. But even the details of this case are murky.
In 2015 they have admitted to never stopping any terrorist attacks that might have been large. The mass telephone records collection program A K. A. Section to 15 was revealed to have no instance in which the N. S. A. Could say with confidence that the outcome of a terrorist investigation would have been any different.
In countries like China, the United States, Russia, and others, we’re already seeing sophisticated mass surveillance. I know for a fact that when people are watching somebody at the office, they act differently than when the office is empty. This is the same concept as being able to express your true self while yet contributing to society. We can’t live in a true democracy if we’re continuously polled to make sure we’re acting like decent citizens in the eyes of those in charge.
Citizens are already being silenced in countries like the United States, China, and Russia, to name a few. Whistleblowers who disclose fraudulent actions are encouraged and protected by laws in many nations to keep corporations accountable and prevent them from abusing their authority. But do we have a program similar to this for governments that allows individuals to hold their governments accountable? Well, Not one I know of. Someone breaking the law by exposing the government would be breaking the law, even though this should be made public, and making the hack public will not jeopardize our security any more than it already has.
Information privacy Matters! I propose that you view the Vice documentary on YouTube about the state of surveillance. In summary, it’s incredible. You must safeguard your information. It holds the key to your pictures and contacts, the money in your bank, all of your personal information, and all of your private communication. You’re not going to give this information to random people on the street. And just because it’s being collected without your knowledge by digital strangers doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a concern. In the current world, we need to mainstream privacy and improve security.
There are a million things we can do to help us to get closer to achieving information privacy, which I must admit, is hard to achieve. There is no one-click solution to all this and that is why you have to stay updated on what is happening and some of the things you do. There are awesome people out here constantly sharing information on such subjects and you can be sure to check them out. I have curated a list of such people and a checklist of some things you can do to achieve the same. I also constantly publish tutorials and articles regarding the same. So be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to stay updated and get the free checklist. You can check out my other articles on similar topics Here. Until next time.