Internet has opened up a new virtual world having a lot of options available for various types of audiences. People are doing a lot of online activities every day such as learning, shopping, chatting, file sharing, online gaming, etc.
Many online tools available for personal or commercial uses for our convenience. But, we have no control over your online privacy because the data you share online is on the servers of different websites.
- Meaning of Online Privacy
- Types of Cyber Attacks
- Safety Measures on Internet
- Myths about Privacy
1. Meaning of Online Privacy
In simple words, the meaning of privacy is to hide your information and activities from others and keep them private either you are online or offline.
Whether you make a physical transaction in a bank/store, or a digital transaction in net-banking/e-commerce website, privacy always matters.
Violation of Privacy
Nowadays, whenever you visit any website they ask to sign up using your e-mail or contact number and ask permission to access location, browsing history, etc.
These actions violate your privacy and tell the pattern of your internet usage.
Your internet service providers store the data on their servers and they can further use it for any purpose.
Also, they can be sell your data to international marketers. Although many different and major brands use your data only for advertisements of their products, but it would be a great offense if it is caught by criminals or hackers.
They can sell your data on the dark web or misuse it for fraud or hacking purpose and you can be a victim of a cyber-attack.
2. Types of Cyber Attack
There have been a lot of developments in the field of information technology and cybersecurity has always been a great concern because even a small vulnerability can cause a big threat.
There are two types of cyber experts which are “hacker and ethical hacker”. Both of them are same in the context of knowledge but different in intentions.
An ethical hacker is the one who works to protect and enhance the security of systems and the one having opposite intentions breaks the security and gives rise to cyber-attacks by illegal activities.
1. Backdoor Attack
Backdoor attack is a kind of attack to bypass the genuine authentication of a user by breaking the security controls of systems having weak configurations.
In this process, the hackers keep finding bugs or vulnerabilities in the operating system or running software and use different algorithms to grant access.
The user can’t detect the backdoor entry of hackers due to the lack of security in the software.
2. Phishing Attack
The word phishing is a homophone of ‘fishing’ and it clearly explains the meaning. Phishing is a kind of social engineering technique (just like tactics to catch a fish) in which the attacker attempts to steal the private credentials of users.
They can be confidential such as username & password and bank account details (debit card, credit card, atm pin) through email spoofing or keystroke logging, etc.
Hackers can use them to register for any online service or unauthorized purchases.
3. DDoS Attack
DDoS attack stands for Distributed Denial of Service in which the hackers try to generate fake traffic on a website by dropping a number of bots.
As a result, the bandwidth is not sufficient for the actual user visiting the website so the RAM exhausts and the server crashes.
Due to this crash, the website turns inoperable and this suspension can last from a few hours to a day or even a week.
It does not harm the data and security of the website but the hackers demand extortion money from the owner to get the website operational again.
4. Malware Attack
Malware attack or Malicious attack as it is a term to define malicious software such as viruses, worm, spyware, ransomware, etc.
A hacker can forcefully install any of these softwares in your device through the websites you visit, the files you download, or the popups/links you click on accidentally.
These malwares tell the hacker about all the data stored on your device with their size, location, file type, etc. or sometimes even upload it on their server.
They can also control your device & network and also can lock or vanish your data through these malwares.
They usually ask for a ransom amount to unlock them and get everything back to normal amount to unlock them and get everything back to normal.
5. Man in the Middle Attack
There are two ends for any kind of data communication on the internet i.e. client and server. The client sends request for data and the server sends back the requested data to the client.
When the data travels on its path and a third party can read it, that third party is the man in the middle.
Although the confidential data is always encrypted, but it can be tampered before reaching the destination.
The middle man can distort the message or decrypt it to retrieve the full information. These types of attacks can be harmful and disruptive for any organization.
Cyber Attacks and their Precautions
3. Safety Measures on Internet
Since we can digitally connect with each other on the internet, in a similar way an outsider can also connect with our system without our permission.
They can have their own intention. So, have to protect our online privacy by the following safety measures.
1. Install a Powerful Antivirus
An antivirus is a software which is an entry barrier for all the unwanted elements and keeps scanning the whole system for infected files.
Whether you are using a device offline or online, installing a powerful antivirus is always recommended to prevent your system from external threats such as viruses, worms, trojans, malware, etc. and protect your data from security risks.
2. Visit Secure Websites Only
Websites that exist on the web follow HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) for the transmission of data. But if a website wants a secure connection with its users, they need SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification which is a standard for encrypted communication.
The websites with SSL certificate use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) which is an extension of HTTP and it makes the connection secure between a web browser and web server.
3. Apply Privacy Settings on Social Accounts
Many people are connected with each other through social media and many people post their every activity on social media because they are addicted to it.
But, you don’t imagine how much information your social account can reveal about you. Anyone can monitor your activities, hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. through your social presence.
Always apply privacy settings to your account so you can decide who can access your private information. Try to post limited activities on social media.
4. Disable Third-Party Cookies
When you visit a website for the first time, that website creates a file of all the activities of your session and stores it in your device. This file is called a cookie which contains information about your preferences of the session.
When you visit that site again, the website identifies your device id and reads the cookie to make your experience better according to your previous choices.
If the websites have their own cookie system then it is fine but if they use third-party cookies and you have allowed it, your data can be shared among all the websites that use those third-party cookies.
Hence you should always disable third-party cookies which can be found in your browser privacy settings.
5. Block Ads and Trackers
While spending time on any website we come across two types of advertisement displays. The first one is the ad space provided by the website owner and the another one is a popup ad by the third party.
Some of the popup ads look attractive but it may be possible that they are being displayed by attackers to invite us on their landing page and steal our data.
These popups and links can also be used to track our online activities such as our mouse clicks, our dwell time, our key strokes.
There are many ad blockers available which block all the third-party popups and don’t allow the trackers to record any kind of your data.
6. Use DuckDuckGo Search Engine
For any kind of web search, most people undoubtedly prefer Google as their search engine as it is the most advanced, convenient, and powerful search engine.
But if you love your privacy and don’t want to be tracked or provide your data to the search engines, DuckDuckGo can be your choice.
The main reason which differs it from other search engines is that at least it does not collect your information to show personalized results.
Every search result is the same for all the users and it is always a fresh session when you search for something on DuckDuckGo.
7. Browse on Incognito Mode
Every web browser has an incognito mode or private mode to visit the websites secretly, without leaving any traces of our browsing history. It resists browsers from storing the browsing data in cache memory or device storage.
Incognito mode is very useful and should be kept on while operating banking websites, or performing any online transactions.
8. Avoid Free and Public Wifi
Whenever we go outdoors whether a cafe/restaurant, a shopping mall, or any public place, the most fascinating thing we get to know is ‘Free Wifi Available’.
We don’t even think for a second and try to connect to that network to enjoy free internet. But we should remember that every free service is not good for us.
These free wifi could be a trap that can record or copy our data when we connect to that network and it happens at many public places.
9. Use a Trusted VPN
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that allows private communication over a public network with the help of tunneling protocol and encryption techniques.
Basically, it routes the internet traffic through another private server and acts as a client itself for the website server to hide your identity.
This helps to maintain your privacy and leaves no traces of your online activities. However, a free VPN is not much secure as compared to paid services. The selection of a trusted VPN is essential to perform confidential operations.
10. Create Strong Account Passwords
Almost every website providing a service in any manner asks to create an account or let you sign in through your existing email id.
As you have to enter passwords all the time, you keep them simple and easy to remember. But always keep this in your mind that “A password easy to remember is the password easier to crack”.
The password should be a combination of upper & lower case alphabets with digits & special characters. Choose a different password for every account and changing the password in a regular interval is an additional advantage.
4. Myths about Privacy
It is a well-known saying in today’s life that online privacy is a myth. It is true because today you can neither expect honesty offline nor expect privacy online. Many internet users have misconceptions about their privacy. The most popular myths are-
Hackers only attack rich and popular personalities. They have nothing to do with the data of a common man so we don’t need to worry. But every data is eligible for sale in the dark web and anybody can also be a victim of a data hack.
VPNs can keep us anonymous and we can use the internet for any purpose. But your identity is actually hidden to the website and your VPN provider still knows your IP address.
Nobody can track you while using incognito mode. Incognito mode is not really incognito. It just clears your browser history the moment you exit your session.
When you delete any of your online accounts, the whole data vanishes from that website. Actually, it is still stored on their server and deleted after a fixed duration.
You have control over your personal information and browsing pattern if you disable cookies on a website.
Every country has its own cyber laws to prevent misuse of online freedom and also to maintain the privacy of internet users.
The people breaking the law in any manner are punished accordingly. But still, more than 30,000 websites are attacked every day.
There are a lot of hackers and cybercriminals active on the internet and they perform illegal activities through the dark web. That’s why it is hard to detect their location and track their activities.
So it is our own responsibility to keep the platform of the internet clean from our side and keep ourselves safe from any kind of threat.
The constitution of India currently does not have any law to govern protect our data privacy. However, the Information Technology Act, 2000 deals with the issues relating to the payments of compensation and punishment in case of disclosure or misuse of personal data and violation privacy.
In December 2019, the government introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 in parliament. It would create the first cross-sectoral legal framework for data protection in India.
A virus is a piece of code that can keep duplicating itself in order to corrupt or destroy the data of your system.
Whereas a malware or a malicious software trojans, worms, spywares, adwares and also viruses. So we can say that every virus is a malware, but every malware is not a virus.
There are many antivirus software available in the market. Few of the examples are Bitdefender, Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, Webroot, ESET NOD32.
You can select any of them for your system. Installing an antivirus that also gives anti-malware service is beneficial.
VPN service is created to enhance your privacy so that you can protect your data from misuse. But, there is a saying that “Online Privacy is a Myth”.
You can hide your identity from the websites using VPN but, the VPN provider has all the data of your internet traffic. They might use your data without letting you know or if hackers attack that VPN, they can get the information of all VPN users.
Digital Marketer | SEO Strategist | WordPress Developer | Content Writer | Graphics Designer | Video Editor | YouTuber