The modern web is increasingly rich in services and social networks. Today more than ever, given all the information that reaches the network, our privacy and security online is in jeopardy. Therefore, it is essential to take countermeasures to browse safely and protect your privacy online.
In addition, it is important to be attentive to all the data about us that ends up on the network and that contributes to our digital reputation. For example, when you upload something to a social network, you have to think that it is «public»even if we only share them with friends. In fact, we cannot control how this data will be used by the people with whom we share it. This data will affect our reputation positively or negatively, depending on the content and how it is used.
In this article we will try to open your eyes to all those threats that are not normally paid attention to, but that can cause serious damage. Later we will see how to protect your privacy against them.
The importance of online reputation
The material that ends up on the net not easy to control. We must always be careful with the image we give of ourselves on social networks. In the modern world to Sometimes some candidates are not hired after recruiters check the candidates’ social profiles.
In addition, it must be taken into account that when content is made public on the network, anyone can copy it and re-share it. From that moment we lose control of and that content (an image, a video or even a state) could continue to run on the network forever, perhaps continuing with the damage to our reputation.
Special companies have been born that take care of cleaning the online reputation of their customers, but even these can hardly guarantee the right to be forgotten.
Protect your privacy to prevent identity theft
You should always be especially careful when sharing your confidential data over the network. Identity theft is a particularly serious threat, as there are many who steal the data of others to commit crimes, acquiring sensitive information only to carry out scams. Identity theft works in a very simple way: sometimes in the network we give our data to the bad guys without realizing it, who use it to impersonate us on the network.
There is some information that is particularly good for scammers. and to which you always have to pay close attention:
- username and password for our online banking services;
- the credentials of the Google account (or our Gmail email);
- your Apple ID credentials;
- the same username and password for different accounts;
- complete personal data and photocopies or photographs of your documents.
The most important data to protect your privacy
Among these data, the most important to protect your privacy are the credentials of the Google account (and therefore of Gmail) and the Apple ID (therefore also of iCloud). It is about ecosystems in the cloud (that is, permanent on the network), that to provide the services that simplify our life (backup of our sensitive data, suggestions, maps) they contain a lot of information about us.
For example, if the location history is activated in our Google account, by logging in with our credentials, you can find all the places we have visited. Within the Google account, you can see our passwords, and all our search history.
For bank credentials, the first danger is phishing online, done by email or otherwise. We have all received false communications inviting us to enter our data, doing it on a site that looks like the official one but is not. Such fake sites they look like the real ones, but with a different direction. To be safe, you should always verify that your bank address is correct and always avoid clicking on these emails.
If you clicked on one of these emails and provided your credentials on a suspicious site, I recommend that talk to your bank immediately to block access to the account. A good security system now adopted by almost all online services is two-step authentication.
The risk posed by the connection
Increasingly, we access the sensitive services listed above over the WiFi network., risking unintentionally exposing ourselves to bad guys. Protecting your privacy is easier if you connect to your own protected home WiFi network, but it is difficult if you connect to a public network.
In fact, anyone could sniff the packets, decrypt them, and gain access to our passwords. It happens more and more often when connecting to Public Wi-Fi access points, since they are increasingly widespread and practically everyone has a smartphone or tablet.
For this reason, if you regularly connect to public WiFi networks, such as institutions (universities, offices, libraries) or public places, squares, airports, bars, it is better to protect your traffic and therefore your privacy online with a VPN.
A VPN, by its nature, works by encrypting all your traffic, which will be sent to one of the service’s proprietary servers. Once the traffic is properly encrypted, even if the packets are intercepted, it is practically impossible to decode them.
Also in this case, not all VPNs are the same. In fact, it is strongly recommended not to use the free ones to access sensitive data. Several users who used free VPNs have been victims of scams and data theft.
Maintaining a VPN service by those who run them is expensive And for this reason, free VPNs often sell user data bundles to the highest bidder. Sometimes this data is used to filter out useful information from a business point of view (profiling), while other times it has ended up in less desirable hands.
On the web, you can never truly protect your privacy without a VPN
This is a concept that escapes most, but each one when connected to the network is identified with a unique IP address. That means that only you on the network have it at that time, through the IP address, the telematic crime agents usually find the offenders on the network. In short, the IP address works a bit like the license plate of your car, in fact, it allows you to track who is paying for the device’s Internet connection. Ultimately, a court order is required to access the client’s name and exact title.
The only way to truly protect your anonymity online and therefore ultimately your privacy online as well is use a VPN. A VPN service, by its very nature, will make it appear that all your network traffic is coming from another location (to be precise, your chosen server) and another IP address.
To protect your privacy, it is essential to choose a no-logs VPN service. The logs record the connections to a server and with them it is possible to reconstruct to which sites a user has connected and at what time.