Understanding Digital Privacy and Technologies That Help Defend It

Our privacy is being breached by the Internet of Things (IoT) products inside our own homes and entities monetizing our web browsing history. We can’t quite depend on our vendors or the ever-evolving digital privacy in the hope that our privacy is kept intact by them.

Digital privacy

The unfortunate reality is that legislators struggle to keep up with the new technologies. And, in many cases, businesses no do not have your best interests in mind.

Under the circumstances, the “I have nothing to hide” stance no longer holds water. It’s high time you take control of your privacy. Here are a few steps you can take that protect your privacy from surveillance and cyber attacks. But before we discuss the technologies that can help you defend yourself, let’s take a peek into what is being done to protect your personal information.

The Steps Taken to Protect Personal Information

Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the scrutiny of businesses engaged in handling customer data has been made more stringent. It is to make sure that there is enough security in place to protect the privacy and data of consumers.

To enhance data protection, companies are increasingly encrypting your information. It prevents unauthorized parties from reading your data. It has been achieved using SSL and TLS certificates supporting website domain encryption.

There’s also the rising popularity of end-to-end encryption. Such encryption prevents any third party, including the vendor, from accessing or reading any communication between a sender and a recipient.

Online communication services have adopted this technology after Snowden disclosed NSA’s mass surveillance. The rise in working from home post the Covid-19 outbreak has prompted video conferencing tools like Zoom as well to adopt end-to-end encryption.

Despite these measures, governments and vendors are looking to include backdoors that help encroach encrypted systems. Therefore, we should take charge of our privacy. Here’s how:

Search Engines

To provide “personalized” experiences, Google and other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing use algorithms to deliver targeted results. However, personal surfing history data can be used to create your profile for targeted advertising that often gets invasive. To prevent this, we suggest that you use alternatives that treat your search history discreetly while also blocking trackers. DuckDuckGo is a popular alternative to Google Search.

If you are looking to stick to your current browser and search engine, we suggest that you use software that works on your browser to boost your privacy and security.

Use Popular Browser Plugins

  • HTTPS Everywhere. HTTPS Everywhere was created by the Tor Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to render many websites under HTTPS encryption, helping secure your communication with them.
  • NoScript Security Suite. This plugin has been endorsed by none other than Edward Snowden for users to ward off government surveillance. It has been built for Firefox and browsers based on Mozilla to disable active content, which is used to track a users’ online activities. It gives users the option to choose domains they trust, creating their whitelist.

However, bear in mind that the more browser plugins you have, the easier it becomes to identify your device via browser fingerprinting. Of course, you can choose a browser that automatically blocks known fingerprinting techniques. Mozilla Firefox is a great option in this case.

Download a VPN

You can download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to strengthen your privacy. A VPN makes you anonymous online by hiding your IP address, which, in turn, conceals your location. It is effective protection from cybercrime as well. It encrypts the data traveling between your device and the internet so that no third party can read or modify it. A VPN is also essential if you like to use free Wi-Fi. The latter usually has many security issues.

Luckily, a VPN can protect you by encrypting your traffic: something that most free hotspots do not do.

Conclusion

Our privacy is under increasing threat from state surveillance, intrusive marketers, and cybercriminals as well. What was once a right is today a luxury. The time is here to pull up our socks and use the technologies at our disposal to protect our privacy. The onus is on us to take the initiative and boost our privacy.

Despite measures that exist to protect our privacy, breaches do occur. Adopt the technologies we have suggested to protect your privacy.

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