I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with the greatest caution. Wernher von Braun
Let me ask this right away.
Aren’t you concerned about what you should be seen doing on the web?
Sure, you are.
But even though everyone who is active on the web (who isn’t?) must have had or heard bruising experience online, he/she is unsure about how to tackle the problems.
Should you care?
Here is some plain speaking.
Banish the thought that you can ever be 100% secure.
If Yahoo recognizes breach to its server 3 years later, and if the Democratic Party’s email accounts could be hacked into during the US Presidential elections, we, the users, simply have no luck at all!
Why should a hacker break into my accounts? He will if I have honey in there to be had. If there isn’t any, should a worthy hacker waste time to probe my details?
Well, the answer is No. And, the answer is No for many of you, who like me have very little honey to share.
But again, wait.
What if my accounts have links to anyone who has honey?
Well, that can be and is the reason why many apparently honey-less accounts are routinely hacked. To elicit information about others.
To put it in a few words, none of us is safe from the ugly reaches of sniffers, attackers and hunters online.
Since that is what it is, here are some precautions you can take to be somewhat safe from those uninviting reaches.
Before that let’s look at the magic of cookies many websites leave on your browser. After all, there is so much more to the evolving technology that we hardly know.
The Magic of Cookies
To put it simply, cookies track what you do on a website.
That includes how you move your mouse, what you click on, how quickly you click on it, when you browse away, when you come back, and many more things besides.
The scary fact is, cookies can find out much, much more about you than you can think of. Head over to Clickclickclick.click (brief screencast below), and spend some time.
You’ll be surprised at how the website can track you based upon your behavior.
According to this analysis, Clickclickclick.click was able to detect her gender accurately. It can also predict things like age range, computer literacy, probable income and educational level, and more, just by the way you browse the site.
It is no wonder that companies like Facebook and Amazon offer you the perfectly relevant ad or product even if you haven’t searched their sites for what they are offering.
And in case you happen to be to a website and then move away, you’ll start seeing their ads everywhere – on Facebook, on websites that serve Google ads, and so on. This is an advertising technique called retargeting, aimed to maximize return on ads.
Some Precautionary Steps to Secure Yourself
At a time when the tech giant Yahoo discovers data theft from its highly secured servers 3 years after it happened (or so it seems), it is anybody’s guess how secure can we manage to be.
Yet as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Precaution is better than cure,” we can surely take some basic precautionary steps to secure ourselves and our data from the evil prying eyes.
In his informative article in Brunch some time back, Rajiv Makhni gave some simple practical tips to go about.
I produce here a few of these below:
- Cover the webcam – Hackers are known to login to your laptop camera without your knowledge and record everything what you do. To prevent this, simply paste a small opaque tape on the camera.
- Dump the easy passwords – In the hurry to get going or perhaps out of sheer laziness we often choose passwords that are cakewalks for the hackers to decipher. It makes enormous sense to create passwords that are full of mumbo jumbo and have them safely stored away in a diary kind of thing.
- Secure browsing – No, not even Private Browsing in Firefox or Incognito in Chrome can render safety to what you’re browsing. The best way to encrypt most of what you do on the web and also thwart hacking is to use a browser plugin called HTTPS Everywhere – for Chrome, for Firefox, and others.
- 2-step authentication – Most email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo offer this. What usually happens is that after your login, they send you an instantly generated code to your phone. Only when you put in this code would you be able to access your mail accounts. There are other steps for authentication as well.
Finally, in case you’re fed up with constant ‘attention’, and wish to disappear from the Internet, remember, help is close by.
Deseat.me helps you clean up your existence online.
Just sign in with Google and it will instantly give you a list of your accounts, matched up with direct links to delete said accounts.
Delete accounts on sites like PayPal, Instagram, Pinterest, Dropbox, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Evernote, and many others. It uses your Google account to find your other accounts, keeping your data safe.
Don’t tell I haven’t cautioned you before taking this step.