Why You Should Be Paying Closer Attention To Internet Privacy
Thanks to the undeniable convenience offered by the internet, we find ourselves growing more dependent. We are slowing inching forward to a point where it would be impossible to function effectively in society without the aid of the internet. But at what price are we buying this so-called convenience?
Much of the convenience offered by the internet is a result of the unrestrained collection of user information by internet service providers, governments and companies online. With that information, companies can provide refined and targeted services. However, considering the range of collected information, the risks far outweigh the benefits, especially when you take into account the death of internet privacy.
Owing to the lack of policies and the failure of governments to prevent the collection and exploitation of information, most people find themselves in a situation where they have to be resigned to a cruel fate. What makes it even worse is that internet service providers prevent people from accessing the internet if they cannot collect data further forcing the compliance of their customers. This article provides some of the best answers for those wondering what the future of internet privacy looks like.
The era of big data
Big data, as the name implies, refers to the collection of vast amounts of data which is then analyzed and compiled in datasets to reveal and predict trends, insights, and patterns. The uses of big data are expansive and cut across various fields of study ranging from psychology to engineering. For instance, businesses make use of big data to identify customer habits and tailor their service to suit the personal needs of each individual. Since the budding of the era of big data, there have been serious advancements in various fields and there is still plenty of potentials that remains untapped.
However, for now, we should shift our focus from the benefits offered and look into how big data is collected. Essentially, every action that you perform online leaves behind a trail. For instance, the number and types of sites that you connect to are logged. Additionally, the amount of time spent on each particular website is recorded. Taking it a step further, those particular sites also collect their own data, which shows your interests. If the data is then collected on a daily basis and compiled, a very distinct data set is created, which shows your online habits.
Although it is clear that big data has significant benefits, there are also very serious risks to consider. While there are companies and governments that collect the data for the sole purpose of improving their services and customer relations, there are also those that collect data for the purpose of controlling the masses. With such large amounts of data, it is easy to manipulate you based on your online habits. For instance, if you like gambling then a company may manipulate the ads that appear when you visit their sites or affiliates are gambling-related. Some may even go a step further into blackmail, especially when the concept of corporate and government spies comes into play. Keep in mind that there is also the risk of a company being hacked and having the data stolen. What is even scarier is the fact that thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) these risks are not limited to your life online.
The risks posed by the IoT
Before the IoT, the internet and the meatspace were two different dimensions of our lives. The IoT presents a bridge to the two worlds, which brings the convenience of the internet into the meatspace through various IoT devices. Thanks to these devices, we are slowly approaching the age of automation – where most things might be done remotely and controlled by machines. However, since the IoT is a fairly new field, we are still years away from full automation and can only enjoy a few of the advantages of the IoT.
Unfortunately, much as the IoT is advantageous, the risks it poses cannot be brushed off. That is even more so when considering the role it plays in big data. The field of IoT is one that relies heavily on big data for its operation and advance. Since companies are rushing to bring more IoT products into the market and capitalize on the pioneering gains of a new, well-received field, a lot of research is needed, meaning that there is a lot of data collection.
IoT devices rely on sensors to collect operational, confidential information that could be very damaging in the wrong hands. For instance, a smart fridge collects information such as your preferred products, your consumption, the pricing of items, your tastes, your meal habits and so on. In some hands, that information is essentially useless. However, in the hands of a professional, for instance, a spy, that information could create a channel for them to approach you or even harm you. Looking at it this way, you should understand the risks posed by big data collected through the IoT.
Nevertheless, big data is only one of the reasons why IoT poses a significant risk. Another of the core reasons is the fact that IoT devices lack dedicated security systems. Most IoT devices lack the security measures necessary to protect against hacking, which leaves the customer wide open to an attack. The risk is even greater when you consider that some IoT devices can be used to cause direct harm to an individual. Consider the fact that someone can take remote control of your car while you are driving or control the air flow in your home while you are sleeping. Each of these situations can easily lead to death and with none the wiser, which makes the IoT not just risky but increasingly dangerous.
What are your options?
At this point, any expert on the internet and especially network security will concur that we have yet to see the full potential of big data, the IoT and consequently, automation or machine learning. As a result, the invasion of privacy and the erosion of internet privacy are bound to increase in the future and become more aggressive. At the same time, we are quickly approaching a point in time where it will be impossible to live without the internet, which means the IoT, big data and automation are unavoidable and indispensable.
Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the government or tech companies to come up with solutions to these problems. In fact, we should see them as the cause of the problem. Therefore, the best solution is to rely on yourself by learning the basics of privacy protection and relying on the numerous privacy protection tools available at your disposal.