Online Privacy is a Serious Issue

If you use the internet, you should be aware of the various privacy issues.  The problem is that it can be very complicated and there’s certainly no simple fix, simply because we use the internet in so many different ways using a huge variety of applications. People will often focus on a specific platform or concept whilst ignoring a myriad of other situations where you data is at risk.

The problem is that this is how cyber criminals operate, choosing the softest target and targeting these.  Instead of spending hours trying to break into your online bank account, they’re much more likely to pinch the password you use from an online forum and work from there.

Think for a minute, you may have a pretty decent password for your online banking or paypal account, but how many other places have you used that password?  We are under a lot of pressure to have a myriad of usernames and passwords, and the majority of people cope simply by using the same one over and over again.  The reality is that very few people will have unique usernames and passwords for their important accounts – most will use only one or two on all sites.

There is a similar issue with something like email, people will rarely consider the privacy issues of this application.  I mean how could anyone intercept my email?  Well it’s relatively easy to do, depending on your situation.  The main weakness is that the vast majority of our emails are transported in clear text, check this interesting post for more information – Just How Secure is Email.  This means that whenever you send an email it is clearly visible on route to the recipient.  Through wireless, hubs and routers it will pass, the shared infrastructure that makes the internet works also means that unencrypted traffic can be intercepted by anyone with control over this hardware.

There are steps you can take, encrypting the traffic is the obvious one – like this video demonstrates, but in some senses the biggest danger is the assumption of privacy.  People can modiy their behaviour including what they do online, if they are aware of the risks involved.  Just as you’ll find that teenagers who realise that pictures they upload online will be there forever, slowly start to reduce the number of photos they upload.  People will take more care about what they email around if they know the information could be compromised.

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