As said in the previous post, and as you may have realised by now, internet is everywhere. Internet has become such a deep part of our lives that to think of a life without the internet would seem impossible. But even with all the benefits of the internet, security and privacy concerns remain.
your identity Isn’t really secure online
Most of the websites that we browse and applications we use over the internet require some sort of identification. It may be an email id or phone number or credit card numbers or even some physical proof that you have to upload, e g. your passport. Once you provide these details to any website, you are at the risk of losing your identity since they can be stolen by hackers or sold by the website itself to others. Once this happens, they can make fraudulent purchases with your credit cards or use your passport or other government IDs to open some accounts, apply for loans at various financial institutions. If somebody wants, he or she can interfere with your personal life also. Since all websites are made by humans, they almost always contain some vulnerabilities which can be used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to the data contained within those websites. After gaining such access, the data can be misused by those hackers.
You are being tracked.
There are various websites which track you in a coordinated way. One website can track you on multiple other websites too if portions of it (called trackers) are embedded in those websites. This way the parent website may build your profile and then “sell it” to interested parties. Thus, you are shown content which is relevant to your profile and maybe even show you products which you might be interested in buying as per your profile. This is a way of influencing you and the choices you make. This “sold” data can be used for any purpose as per the needs of the buyer.
Most websites keep tiny documents called “cookies” where some data related to your website session or history may be stored. These cookies can be hacked or accessed without authorization by a hacker and then the hacker can take control of your personal data or website session.
Your internet access is logged.
The websites you browse on the internet and the content you view are really not private even though you may be visiting websites which call themselves “secure”. All Internet Service Providers (ISPs) usually maintain a log of the websites you visit. Governments can reach these ISPs with court orders and obtain a history of your web-browsing activity. Normal internet users do not usually have to worry about this and this is usually done for users who tend to do some sort of illegal activity on the internet.
Your emails are not really private.
Most of the email services that you use scan all your emails and show you relevant ads. This leads to loss of your privacy wherein every email, no matter how personal it is, is scanned. Also, many email providers cooperate with various intelligence agencies to give them backdoor access to user’s email.
The internet is full of bad people.
Since there are all kinds of people on the internet, there certainly are some people who have some malafide intentions. Such guys write some malicious programs which can be spread through websites, emails, usb-drives, etc.. Such programs can harm or steal the data on your computer. Viruses, Worms, Spyware are such programs. Once this data is stolen, it can be sold to interested buyers at an appropriate rate. Some of the malware is so bad that it can render your computer inoperable for futher use. There are also some malware which encrypt your data and ask you for ransom to decrypt back that data or else the data will be destroyed. Such malware is called ransomware. Also, there is always the chance of data being intercepted by unauthorised parties during transmission
Any website on the internet can be attacked digitally wherein availability of the said website can be affected. This is called the Denial-of-Service attack. Additionally, during this time, a hacker can pose as the original website and steal your information.
Most passwords are weak.
Many of the users use weak passwords. They can be easily hacked by hackers and thus your data can again be stolen or sold. Using same passwords for different websites is also a security risk since a leak of one password will open up a platform to all passwords being hacked and security and privacy being compromised.
Free WiFi isn’t secure WiFi.
There is nothing like something that is free. But free WiFi should be avoided at all costs. Such WiFi may be monitoring all your web-traffic (i.e. the data leaving and entering your device) and thus extracting some “juicy” information. Websites like Google and Facebook can also be easily spoofed to trick you into entering your passwords and thus stealing your data/identity.
No one governs the Internet.
One of the biggest reason why the internet is not as secure as it can be is that there is no international governing body to regulate internet. Different countries have different laws and thus there is a varying degree of regulation of internet in different countries. Also, since the protocols governing technical specifications of the internet are not compulsory, there is no strictness by various websites in following them.
Even with all the above mentioned issues, there are ways to access the internet securely, which will be covered in another article.
For Wikipedia entry on Internet, click here.
For more posts on Internet, click here.
For more posts in The Cyber Cops project, click here.