Internet Privacy Violations: Should You Be Concerned?

September 01, 2016

When you think of internet privacy violations, you probably imagine someone stealing your financial data or a person you know reading private emails without permission. Both of these scenarios are common today. But with our increasingly complex digital environment, there are a number of other areas that are put at risk when your internet privacy is violated. Here’s what you need to know.

privacy violations and identity theft can go hand-in-hand
Privacy violations and identity theft can destroy more than just your credit rating.

The Rise of Private Browsing

One study revealed that at least 20 percent of respondents have used private browsing. At this point, it is a well-known fact that the majority of internet browsers keep a record of your searches.

Using anonymous browsing at the server level requires you to specifically turn off the track history feature unless you use a format such as Google Chrome’s Incognito Browsing. But even if you’re managing to control your history on your own machine, are you using a safe search engine? Many search engines, including Google, track information such as where you logged in from, the kind of device you were using, the terms you searched for, and what links you clicked on. For the ultimate private browsing experience customized for web browsers, SearchLock is the anonymous browsing tool that offers anonymous surfing that’s easy to set up. Give it a try if you are worried about your search history being compromised.

Completely Private Chat Apps

Another area you need to be aware of is your social media usage. Social media sites archive information which can be visible to other platform users, as well as in search results. From that political rant that you later regret to the embarrassing pictures your friends posted without your permission, social media flubs can come back to haunt you personally and professionally. That’s why a number of new networks are giving you the option to chat, text, and share images more privately. SnapChat is a program that deletes pictures ten seconds after a viewer opens them. Other programs like Cyber Dust allow you to send text messages anonymously and in a way that can’t be tracked.

searchlock cyber criminals are watching
Criminals are using your private information to commit a range of crimes, from identity theft to house break-ins.

Online to Offline Privacy Violations

You’re using the internet to control more factors than ever before, from your home’s security system to tracking your car’s GPS movements. Privacy violations that occur when people hack these systems reveal vulnerabilities that could be used to commit physical crimes. Is your home unattended while you’re on vacation? Are you running late and deviating from your normal routine, creating an opportunity for thieves to break into your house while you’re out? It’s absolutely essential that if you’re using a home security system or in-car system such as LoJack that you understand what information is being tracked, how it’s stored, and whether there are weaknesses in that system that hackers can exploit.

Taking privacy seriously is more important than ever. Not only do you need to protect your identity and private emails, but having a clear approach to internet privacy impacts the security of your social media data and even your physical location. You should be concerned about your internet privacy: it’s scary out there. But the good news is that with preparation and the right tools, it’s possible to stay safe and head off hackers before they cause real trouble.

Liz Alton is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including technology and trends in internet privacy.