Can privacy online be guaranteed?

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Date: 4 May 2021

Smart technologies in your smartphone, collect and share data about a woman through mobile services and applications.

Many people are now more aware of their online actions, and the popularity of VPN services has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. But if you examine how things work, you'll quickly realise that online privacy is all an illusion. Both private companies and government agencies have more interest in your actions than ever before. Data collection and analysis happens with every step you take online, and you're only fooling yourself if you think that you're staying hidden from Big Brother.

A proxy can sometimes be useful for staying concealed, especially if you switch accounts often. You will still need to revaluate your online behaviour to realise the full benefit of a proxy.  If you haven't heard about proxies before, head over to Smartproxy blog for more information.

What you should be doing instead of trying to conceal your tracks is to revaluate how you act online. If you are not comfortable with something being made public and associated to you, then you shouldn't post it in the first place, no matter how anonymous the platform might be claiming to be.

Limiting your social media activity doesn't help

Facebook has become less popular with some groups of people. They post less frequently, and some disable or delete their accounts completely. And while not having a social media profile can make it more difficult to obtain information about you, it doesn't prevent it completely. Your friends' profiles can be used to gain information about you without you or your friend realising. For example, you might not have your significant other listed on your profile, but analysis of your posts and the comments people make on them can be very revealing. They can easily identify connections that you interact with more regularly.

If you install Facebook on your phone and give it access to your contacts, Facebook will know the phone number of every single person you have in there, and that's tied to their Facebook profile in the backend without notifying anyone. That's how the platform knows so much about you that you've never submitted yourself. All it takes is one other person to post a detail about you, and it's captured immediately.

Does your phone automatically connect to open Wi-Fi networks?

Smartphones can be very convenient for simplifying many aspects of our daily lives, especially when it comes to having constant access to the internet. And because we like to save those precious megabytes in our data plans, most of us keep Wi-Fi enabled at all times. You might not even realise it, but just by walking around a few busy streets, your phone will probably connect to a dozen different open networks as soon as it finds something available.

Many of those networks will be configured in less than trustworthy ways, capturing connection logs, and exchanging that data with others. In some cases, your entire daily schedule can be reconstructed on the basis of those connections.

Cookies, clearing history, private browsing – it's all pointless

Clearing your browsing history is helpful if you don't want the people you share your devices with to know what you've been up to. The same goes for deleting cookies and using incognito mode. But it does nothing to stop others from trying to identify and track you online. Digital fingerprinting relies on a lot more than a logged-in account, and it can be quite advanced these days. You can even change devices and certain systems will still be able to identify you and link your activities to your main profile. There's simply no escaping that, so it's important to realize that these actions are only intended to keep you safe on a local level. And while they're great for that, they should never be trusted for clearing your tracks online. At this point, that's pretty much impossible.

The walls have ears… literally

Smart homes are gaining popularity fast. People seem to love the idea of turning on their lights from their smartphones, for some reason. Some invest serious money into making their homes completely connected. But is that extra bit of convenience worth the huge privacy violations you're willingly introducing into your own home? If you have a device like Alexa, you can be fairly certain that it's recording you and analysing your behaviour in more ways than you imagine.

It's surprising that so many people are voluntarily sharing this data, and it's likely that the numbers will only increase as more smart devices enter the market. If you want to buy a new TV today, finding one without smart features is a challenge, and it can be almost impossible if you want a high-quality model without a ridiculous price tag. While we are not quite there yet, it's not too far-fetched to assume that a decade from now every lightbulb you buy will require a smart system to operate. At some point, even speaking in your own home won't keep you safe from the prying eyes of the internet.

It's best to acknowledge this new reality as many companies (and government bodies) have a strong interest in continuing to gather your data. And can you really blame them? When people are so willing to voluntarily give up so much information for free, why wouldn't those organisations take advantage of it if it benefits them?

Copyright 2021. Featured post made possible by Smartproxy.

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