Even though discussing the intricacies of internet security and internet privacy is often relegated to those who are more focused on technology, as more and more governments, companies, and private individuals are found misusing private data, the question of internet privacy has become a household subject.
Besides, more of our information is now online than ever before. Most people have smartphones that house personal pictures, addresses, and phone numbers, but also banking information, social security information, and medical information. This data exposure, as well as the ease with which it can be shared, means that security breaches may be detrimental to the everyday life of any person.
Thankfully, there are multiple options that we have in safeguarding our privacy, and the wisest choice is using various tools to ensure that your data is as secure as humanly possible. Professional VPN providers like Le VPN are constantly making new products and new solutions to assist us in internet security, and there is a sizable number of renowned anti-virus developers that are doing the same from the other side. The best way to stay safe and anonymous online now is to stay informed and to incorporate multiple layers of protection to your online activities.
Some people might think that using multiple protections might be a slight overkill and that some of those are severely redundant, but if we use the analogy of our physical security, we will realize that just having a locked wooden door protecting your house means very little if your windows are open.
You should approach your internet security as you would your physical safety. You don’t necessarily need a gun when you are going out, but it should be nice to know martial arts, which would be knowing how to protect your information, as well as bringing some backup in the way of a VPN and an Anti-Virus. The internet has become the worst possible neighborhood to live in. As all people you come to contact with are like your first door neighbors, meaning that there are thousands of them passing your door every day, and while most of them are completely benign, the rule of large numbers indicates that some of them will be problematic, and you need to protect yourself from those people.
Why is internet privacy important?
Aside from the general anonymity that is very beneficial when entering discussions or engaging in escapism, there are two major things you will want to protect by being anonymous on the internet.
The primary thing is your identity, as well as the identity of your friends and family. A breach of privacy here can result in something more annoying than dangerous like focused marketing campaigns, to severe problems like identity theft. Additionally, the information you have leaked that has resulted in a company or a retailer having your information can progress into something more dangerous, if the company housing your information is hacked or leaks the data further.
The second thing is you are aiming to protect is the data itself. This includes your personal data, including pictures, videos, and chats, but also your professional data that can be work files, company information, or anything similar that you may hold on your computer. Not protecting this sort of data can spell significant financial and legal problems, depending on the type of data you are housing. Also, it is possible for your data to be kept for ransom, meaning that someone will threaten to release your proprietary data to the public unless you pay them not to. If this happens, you will need to contact the police, and it would be paramount to catch whoever is blackmailing you, as there is no guarantee that your information will be released even if you pay.
Finally, your information can be used for social gain or other malicious reasons. If you have any internet popularity, it is not uncommon for people to be doxed (their information shared publically), or even swatted (a SWAT team called to their address). Neither of those is pleasant and can be highly dangerous.
Nominal Privacy vs. Technical Privacy
When you are browsing the internet, there are actually two entities doing the browsing, yourself and your device. If you wish to be anonymous, both need to stay private and hidden. You need to make sure that only irrelevant information will be shared on your social media, and that you will not give anyone your passwords, pin codes, or your personal mobile phone number.
Having two phone numbers is becoming increasingly important for your internet privacy, and if you can find a burner phone, meaning a SIM card without your name attacked on it, you can use that number to install all of the 2-step verifications. Using your official number for this can be very troublesome, as hackers can clone your phone and access everything connected to that number easily. If you only have a single phone number, make sure that it is not public, and that you are not giving it away to companies, retailers, or other unknown and untrusted entities.
Technical privacy is protecting the identity of your device, that is directly connected with your information. This doesn’t mean just your PC or smartphone, but all of the devices in your home, including your gaming consoles, printers, smart TV, or any other appliance. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), there is a long list of devices that can connect to the internet, and all who are in your home will use the same router, with the same IP address provided by your Internet Service Providers (ISP).
For technical security, you will need to connect all of your devices to a VPN, as well as to keep them updated and secured with anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Internet Society and Privacy Protection
Most people know someone who has had their social media accounts hacked. This has led to the belief that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are easy to breach and that there is some code that people can type in, as to brute-force the password. This is a huge misconception, as any hacker that has the capability to hack into Google or Facebook would already be working for the tech-giants for exorbitant salaries.
Most social media hacks, as well as most hacks in general, are made due to human error. Someone has shared their info online or has left their account unsupervised. Sometimes the password and username were fished out using a public WiFi or an unsafe connection, but even this is less than the information being outright given to the hacker by the user. We have all seen the message ‘’our staff will never ask you for your password”, but apparently, some people haven’t read that message. Providing individuals, you don’t know with your private information is equal to declaring said information through the National Public Radio (NPR).
There are a lot of tricksters online, and if anyone asks you for your login information, report them immediately to the administrators or developer of the platform and block their email, chat, or phone.
Privacy Issues with the New Law in Power
While the new laws concerning internet privacy regulation are mainly applied in the European Union, the impact it has is global, as no tech company would want to be fined to blocked from what has become the biggest market in the world. This means that while an internet user may not be able to pursue action in the US legally, they may still expect that the company will comply with the rules, just in case that they move to Europe at some point.
This has several impacts for the US consumer but also carries several risks. As internet companies are still able to collect data, and while the new internet privacy laws protect individuals from legal misuse of private information, there is still illegal use that can be either perpetrated by the malicious entities that may hack the company, or by the company itself in a rush to secure profits.
General Data Protection Regulation
The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a new regulation made by the European Union that changed the Data Protection Directive that was established way back in 1995. These internet privacy regulations aim to give consumers and individuals more right over their data, as well as to guarantee that you as a person are the owner of your personal information, and not the government, entity, or individual that has collected your data.
There are two major aspects of the GDPR, the first one being that you can ask any data collector why is your data being collected and how it will be used. Any misuse aside from the declaration would be in breach of this regulation. Additionally, you may demand your data to be removed from the collection, and if you are inside the European Union the company, institution, or individual will need to comply.
In June 2018, California has also passed a similar regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act that was dubbed the ‘’mini-GDPR”. While it doesn’t provide the California consumers with as much protection as were given to the Europeans, it does further the idea that your personal information belongs to you, and that a company or the government can not misuse it.
Consumer Privacy and Consumer Protections
As a consumer, you will have several options in protecting your privacy when it comes to your internet purchases. Primarily, you may demand from all companies where you have bought things to clear all of your data after every purchase. Even if you are in the US or somewhere else outside of the EU, most companies will make sure to comply, just in case. This behavior will mitigate any risk from the company being hacked and your private information being compromised indirectly.
Aside from the direct action, you may want to use purchasing methods that are not connected directly with your other information. The most popular ways to do this is by using gift debit cards, that has nothing on it but your name, where you will need to place funds into the card physically, but that will not have any other information on it. While this may seem tiresome to force yourself to go to the bank and directly pay into the account, it is the best way to shop from places that you do not trust to safeguard your information. This doesn’t need to be used in situations which would already have some information, like when you are paying your utility bills or mortgages, but for small purchases from unknown retailers, this may be the best possible option.
Personal Data Privacy and Security
Personal privacy, concerning both the personal data privacy and personal information privacy, can only be ensured by data security. We can expect new laws with even more privacy protections to be created in the future for online privacy, but this doesn’t solve the problem of illegal data acquisition, as well as malpractices from the companies, institutions, or other entities that we entrust with our data.
Because of these risks, we will need to make a personal effort to protect both ourselves and the people we come to contact in, especially those who share some of our information. This will include multiple layers of security.
From the outside in, protecting your information means acting anonymous online. If you really need to have a personal Facebook account as to chat with family members, make the account as scarce with details as possible. You should not advertise your own email address, your home address, or your mobile phone. It is even advisable to use an anonymous email for your social media accounts. You also shouldn’t list any employers, as this can be a route for other information being stolen through that employer.
Second, you will need to connect all of your devices to the internet by using a virtual private network, which will conceal the IP address provided by your Internet Service Provider, which is directly connected to your name and home address.
Finally, on the inside, you will need to have all of your devices updated to the latest security protocols, as well as to have a reliable and professional anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
VPN Internet Privacy
While a VPN is currently a must in most if not all situations when on the internet, not all VPN services are created equal, and there is a world of difference between using a simple proxy connection, a free VPN, or a premium VPN service that is provided by a professional VPN provider. As prices for premium protection have come down quite a bit due to technology, there is nothing stopping you from getting a great VPN option, and the fastest VPN internet now is sometimes just as fast as your regular ISP connection.
Additionally, reputable companies such as Le VPN have ensured to have their services easy to install and applicable to all possible platforms, meaning that by using a premium service you will not need to mix and match depending on your devices, but can use the same VPN connection for everything. Additionally, the top-tier protocols provided by the platform, such as OpenVPN, offer peer-to-peer (P2P) connections, meaning that it will provide much higher speeds without sacrificing security. OpenVPN is an open source protocol made by James Yonan, and while the protocol itself is exceptionally made, the General Public License means that we can expect further advances of this program in the near future.
Using a VPN proxy will mask your IP, but it will also grant you a tunnel connection that will safeguard your devices from surveillance and meta-data collection. This is crucial, as your privacy can sometimes be at risk from your ISP itself, and this tunnel is the only way to protect your data, information, and privacy at all times.
Does using a VPN Protect Your Information?
Using a VPN private connection is currently the best way to protect the information leaking from your devices without your knowledge. Using a VPN means that when you go to a website and access the content you are looking for, you will not be sending out your own IP address, but will instead be shielded by the VPN.
While there will never be such a thing as a truly private internet, as you can rarely know exactly who are you contacting online, you will able to access the internet freely through your VPN provider and to enjoy the open web, as it is meant to be enjoyed. Additionally, as no one is able to place surveillance on your internet traffic, you will not be bugged by annoying adds, nor will you risk your information being exposed if the company collecting your data is compromised.
While private internet access might be a slight misnomer, short of just having a local area connection, a safe and open internet is very achievable. Professional VPN providers like Le VPN offer a wide range of services to make your stay on the internet as safe as possible. Additionally, if you employ some precautionary measures to block hackers and other entities collecting your data, as well as search engines gathering your meta-information, you can be confident that your personal information, your data, and your devices will never be compromised.
*Article Updated On March 29th, 2019.*
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