How to Protect Yourself in a Digital Surveillance Age?
We are living in an era of digital surveillance.
12:20 19 January 2021
Whenever you browse the Internet, there would be some company either spying on your activities or constantly stealing data without your knowledge. As a matter of fact, the harvesting of our personal data has gone way beyond what we could imagine. And only malicious attackers or cybercriminals aren’t the only ones to be blamed here; bigshot companies like Google and Facebook are continuously tracking our online activities and gathering a multitude of data…of which most are personal.
The impact of ongoing digital surveillance on our privacy and security cannot be understated. According to a study, 24% of websites now have hidden Facebook trackers, while 76% have hidden Google trackers. It is not surprising that these tech giants are watching your every move or tracking you when you are browsing other websites. As such, these companies have gathered bulk data from each user, which may include your browsing activities, location history, interests, purchases, and others.
Google and Facebook monetize your data by featuring targeted ads when you surf the Internet or allegedly sell your private information to third parties. And according to Amnesty International, Google and Facebook surveillance is an “assault on privacy.” It threatens free expression and human rights. And this can be significantly discomforting. It is time that people become more vigilant about data security and privacy, and take effective measures to prevent digital surveillance and data harvesting.
While it might seem impossible to protect yourself from persistent web scraping, there are ways that can make a big difference. Outlined here are 5 apps that can help secure your privacy on the Internet. So, let’s get started.
Understanding the complex privacy settings of popular platforms like Google, Facebook or Amazon is one of the biggest challenges users face. You need to scroll through every preferences screen and identify whether the settings are truly inoffensive or intentionally put to sound innocuous. And this lack of understanding often makes you fall prey to data harvesting by top tech companies.
Jumbo is an app that promises to minimize this confusion. With this application, you no longer need to visit each website and manage your privacy settings there. Simply download the app on your Android or iOS device, check a few boxes as prompted, and they would lock down your privacy settings automatically on most platforms, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.
When you browse the Internet, most often the network connection is unencrypted. As such, it becomes easier for your Internet Service Provider (ISP), malicious attackers, or third-party companies to spy on your activities and steal your private data. Cybercriminals adopt modern techniques like man-in-the-middle attacks or packet sniffing to break into your device and hack confidential data. Digital surveillance by top tech companies has also become commonplace.
To address this challenge, keep your data protected using a VPN. The benefits are that you can browse securely and your IP address remains hidden. A Virtual Private Network uses cutting-edge technology to encrypt online traffic between your device and secure VPN servers. This prevents third parties like ISPs, hackers, Google, or Facebook from reading your IP or spy on your activities.
There are hundreds of companies that have been shamelessly tracking you across the Internet and not even professional enough to give you the choice to opt-out. In many cases, they do not even disclose that they are snooping on you. Rarely do we visit the cookie settings for most websites and this gives them an opportunity to spy on our online activities, our location, and our confidential data.
For such sites that literally “push” you to opt for their cookie settings, there is an app called Disconnect.Me. It combines features of a VPN, firewall, and adblocker to prevent your information from getting through unless you choose to release it. The app also has also compiled blacklisted trackers and totally prevents these offenders from loading on your device. When required, it functions as a VPN to prevent snoopers and cybercriminals from getting access to your data.
Do you know that Google or Facebook is constantly spying on you? They might already have an enormous trove of data collected from your browsing activities! They are continuously tracking your moves: what you buy online, which sites do you visit, where you filled up an online form, etc. As a result, your identity, privacy, and confidential data might be at stake.
DuckDuckGo is a web browser application that does not store users’ IP addresses, personal information, or browsing data. More importantly, there are no advertisements. You can use this browser instead of your default browser that might not offer this level of privacy.
Most often, we are so engrossed browsing the Internet that we automatically grant all app permissions or cookie permissions without thinking how invasive these could be. This makes it easier for websites or third parties to gather most of our information and monetize it.
To prevent this, you can use Bouncer – an app that toggles cookie or app permissions on your end and prevents websites from accessing more data than what they need to function optimally.
Using top-notch and reliable apps as discussed above can help protect your privacy while ensuring the security of your personal data.