Do you know what the most precious element of this century is? It is not oil, or gold, or mineral resources, or cryptocurrency. The most valued feature in the 21st century is “Data”. Private data of online users like you and me is the most valuable element collected with vigor and used for million-dollar business deals.
Every website and digital service we use collects data about internet users and uses it to expand their business empire. We distinctly allow cookies and apps to access everything from our mobile camera to contact details and browsing history. The private data collected from the user’s digital footprints is used for various illegal and dangerous activities.
Hiding Personal Data
“Personally Identifiable Information” or PII is the most targeted form of data sold on the dark web. PII includes all personal information from telephone numbers to date of birth and primary email ids. It is pretty easy to collect all the critical data from the mother’s maiden name to residential address, social security number, and insurance details.
These details get collected from online forms filled for shopping and insurance purposes. The unsuspecting internet user is prone to phishing campaigns and identity theft, resulting in various loan frauds.
Prevent this by hiding your public profile from the most commonly used networks. Login to your Google account and type data and personalization in the search bar. Open the first link and click on Personal Info from the left side. Turn off information about your location, search history, etc. Click on “Go to About Me,” under “Choose what others see” and select “Only you.” You can also visit the google privacy checkup page and turn off various features from Ad personalization to “Control what others see about you” in Google.
Do the same with Amazon. Go to your profile, click on “Edit your public profile,” and click on “Edit privacy settings.” Select “Hide all activity on your public profile” and hit save. There are similar ways to delete your shopping history and hide your Wishlist from advertisers viewing them.
Use the Privacy Badger plugin to prevent digital footprint tracking and domain tracking. Always use your mobile data when you are in public places and refrain from using public Wi-Fi, which is not secure.
Protecting the Browsing data
Cookies in various websites were created to present relevant and related information to the user researching a particular topic. Often, data brokers use the information collected through cookies to do intrusive marketing and bombard the user’s email with numerous related services.
There are various issues in tracking and monitoring a person’s browsing habits constantly. The loss of privacy to blackmail problems and the false campaigns tailor-made to target specific demographics are rampant.
Use more secure browsers like “Tor” if you don’t want Google or Amazon tracking your details. Also, try using search engines that do not collect your data like Qwant, Searx, or DuckDuckGo. Try the NoScript Security Suite plug-in to prevent the cookies from tracking too much of your browsing data. The plugin is now effective only with Mozilla users.
Hacking Email is the most dangerous crime which might cause millions of dollar loss for huge companies. Experienced hackers get paid thousands of dollars every day to hack the email of potential decision-makers.
Everything from contract details to core passwords of various services availed by the email owner is available on their email id. Cracking the email address of a high-profile businessman is like a goldmine that offers a peek into all his personal and professional details.
For example, cracking or bugging a bank manager’s email will enable the hackers to get their hand on several of his passwords from system security software to the business CRM. Since the data is available unprotected with the password on the emails, it is easy for hackers to monitor their every move, chats and keep the competitors informed about the core details they require.
Use only legit emails and do not open suspected spam emails. Use services like ProtonMail or Cisco Cloud email security services. Keep all business-related email transactions on these end-to-end encrypted services while using Gmail for fun and personal info. Ensure your system security software has features to protect your email too.
Tracking Financial Information
Online shopping is the lifeline of the contemporary world, and nearly every internet user uses their credit or debit card on various shopping platforms. These financial card details are like a low-hanging golden apple for different malware companies who aim to steal the card details.
Various malware and duplicate card-creation companies hack such data and use the card details to transfer a small amount into their account during every transaction. They also create duplicate cards, which will get billed towards the unsuspecting user account without their knowledge. Even British Airways ticket selling websites got hacked using this technology, and money got looted from their customer’s bank account.
Only browse websites with HTTPS extension. Clear out all your cookies and the cache frequently and log out of all payment services and other opened services regularly. Use the HTTPS Everywhere plugin if you rely highly on the Chrome browser. The plugin tries to provide HTTPS encryption to websites with low safety features.
Install a plugin called Blur which works in both Firefox and Chrome. This plugin allows the user’s credit card details to get masked, and only encrypted data gets entered into the payment website database. Hackers cannot access essential credit or debit card details if Blur gets used for digital payment transactions.
Many banks are now providing services that ask you whether you authorize a particular transaction or recurring subscription before paying through the credit card. Opt for this service to stay safe, as you can always decline fake transactions quickly.
Medical and Insurance Data
As the medical field becomes increasingly digital, all the core details about the patient, from their medicine to tests, are stored online or in the cloud. This process gives easy access to hackers to get their hands on the main medical details about the patients. The Insurance industry relies heavily on outsourcing, and it is much easier to gather personal information from contractors.
The stolen medical data is used to target patients with cheaper drugs or alternative medications ads. Many vulnerable patients fall prey to such scams and put safety at significant risk. Insurance data theft makes other competitor companies use core insurance data to pursue users joining them with bombarding offers with lots of indirect non-beneficial clauses.
Ensure your data is safe with your hospital and insurance company by choosing reputable companies that give importance to security and have clearly defined clauses in their contract for the security breach. Use Nuwber for identity verification to find reliable medical and insurance safety consultants.
Data privacy is essential because exposed personal, browsing, financial, medical, and insurance info can lead to various forms of thefts and fraud. Use proper plugins and security software like HTTPS Everywhere, No Script Security Suite, and Blur to stay safe. Also, hide your Google and Amazon profile settings from public eyes and ensure you use end-to-end encrypted email services for extra safety.