A List of The Most Common Online Privacy Threats

Although, its the fastest way of connecting with the world but, unfortunately, internet is not the safest one. It is full of scams and gambles, and you are on the verge of security risks when you choose to be online. 

One thing that you may have noticed in recent times is people physically covering their webcam with tape, post-it notes, or even Band-Aids. People started doing this after the news that your webcam could potentially record you without you even knowing came to surface. 

Maybe you are one of them too. But, let me tell you something its not enough, online security needs much more than a Band-Aid. 

There are also internet users out there that are least bothered about their online privacy and are unaware of the plausible risks associated with it. So, its probably better for both kind of users to review the biggest and most common risks to thier online privacy. Here is a list of things to look for, in no particular order.

Webcam Hacking

We’ll start off with webcam hacking, to be honest you should be the least worried about this one, primarily because it’s the least likely to happen. This privacy invasion just happens to be the most sensational and scary to think about. I mean of course who wants to believe someone out there could be physically watching them without their knowledge. 

The good news is some computers now come with a physical “kill switch,” meaning you can control the webcam with a button or switch. So, just turn it ON when you need it and OFF when not. Its also not a bad idea to cover it with something just to be on the safer side.

Phishing Emails

This online security issue is as much common today as it was a decade ago. Despite the fact that the criminals have gotten more and more sophisticated, it’s also the easiest to prevent. A useful rule of thumb is to not click on any links in emails from unknown sources or sources that you don’t recognize, and even if you do, refrain from clicking if anything seems even a little off. Instead, visit the target website by typing the address yourself into your browser. 

Moreover, before you enter any personal info such as login credentials or passwords, pay close to attention to the URL of the webpage, and make sure you’re using a secure connection like HTTPS.

Browser Extensions

I recently came across this report which says that many of the browser extensions that we use are collecting our web browsing history and selling it off as marketing research. Yes you heard me right, the plugins that you add to Chrome or Firefox might be selling your personal information. 

The good news is that Google and Mozilla, the makers of the affected browsers are pretty much all over this one. But, it does not mean that you should just completely relax as there are things that you can do as well. First, refrain from installing 3rd-party browser extensions that require permissions to collect your data. Moreover, you might also want to consider a more secure, privacy-friendly browser such as Brave, or even Safari, which disable cross-site tracking by default.

Ad-tracking

Your personal info is probably the most at risk when you use Google, Facebook, and other such software & online services that most people don’t give much thought to before using. Now, your online life may not seem worth tracking as you browse websites, post updates to social networking sites and so forth. But the data you generate is a rich trove of information that says more about you than you realize—and it’s a tempting treasure for marketers and law enforcement officials alike. 

Both of the services mentioned above have made a very profitable business out of knowing as much about you as possible and then using that information to show you ads they think are relevant. They mostly do this by technology that works in the backend tracking your activity, not only on their services but as you travel across the Web. This is how they are able to show you those kinda-creepy ads for the things you just looked at elsewhere such as when you search videos with the keyword shoes in it on YouTube and you start getting ads for it on Facebook.

Device Tracking

Along the same line, your mobile device is another huge source of data that advertisers want. Your favorite apps, the one that you use everyday are sending out information at an alarming rate, often to services like Facebook, who then use it to advertise.  

What you can do is to turn off background app refresh, I don’t think I can make it any more simpler and shorter than that.

Data Breaches

Having your sensitive data such as personal banking, credit card, and so forth being leaked is still the worst-case scenario at this point. As compared to the others, this one is the hardest to protect against since it’s mostly out of your control. You can protect yourself against others by taking precautionary measures but here you are solely dependent upon the service providers to keep your info secure because it can have catastrophic results when they don’t.

As a business, however, you can go for services that offer end-to-end encryption when you store your data, meaning even if your data leaks, it’s extremely unlikely anyone will be able to make any sense of it.

Viruses and Ransomware

Out of all the threat these two are considered to be the biggest, especially for businesses. Viruses can do a lot damage to our devices and our information, and ransomware is when a virus takes over an entire network and denies the owner access to data untill they pay a ransom. 

For instance, the WannaCry ransomware attack was a May ’17 worldwide cyberattack by the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm, which targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows OS by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The attackers are certainly getting better and better at what they do, but still there are ways you can protect yourself. Such as you can educate your employees on basic internet safety– like don’t click on links that are not familiar, never download files in emails from suspicious senders, use an antivirus tool like Malwarebytes and Avast Antivirus that can help them identify if they are at risk, and never run or install applications that don’t come from a reputable source.