Internet Security: Internet Privacy and You
It may be shocking to find out, but it is possible that someone is watching your actions right now. This can be through many means and take different forms, but you are constantly giving away information to people who will use it how they wish.
You don't have to be a criminal to dislike the thought of people knowing what you are doing. You could work for a good company, you may be working on something private, or you might just be sick of advertisements that target you and feel like your privacy is being breached.
This article goes with the first article: Internet Security: How To Safeguard Your Computer
Here I will discuss many ways that your privacy is being taken away and how to fix it. I know it sounds a little paranoid, but I feel it is important for people to realize all of these beeches of privacy exist.
Why Does it Matter to Me?
For me, I dislike the thought of someone watching what I am doing. I am not doing anything wrong, but just the concept is horrible to me. I feel as if it would be someone standing and watching over my shoulder constantly, and that is intolerable.
In a purely technical sense, one could find your usernames to sites and connect everything you do on the internet.
Lastly because tone doesn't go through text, if you jokingly make a sexist, racist, or other joking comment about say religion, Facebook, Google, or whomever has this could release it to someone who buys it - say the school wanting to research you or your employer - and you could get expelled or fired.
Information Leaks: Facebook
Facebook is a long adversary to privacy. Firstly, it changed itself from looking like a social network to becoming a clear advertising company: Facebook The Sellout. It has always been an advertising/information company but looks like a social network.
Zuckerberg has shown time and time again, in video and interview how uncomfortable he is with questions about his views on privacy. In one video, he even starts sweating profusely and stuttering. An IM from the CEO when Facebook was just coming out can tell you his true thoughts:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard. Just ask. I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS.
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it. I don't know why. They "trust me". Dumb f**ks.
It constantly logs your actions, tailors advertisements to what you click on, and sells information to companies. However, it is not just information from your FACEBOOK, this is information from your computer as well: your cookies.
"Just reading an article (or looking at anything) on any site may create an announcement on Facebook. Something like: "Bull Mancuso just read a tutorial explaining how to kill a member of another crime family." Bull didn't comment. He didn't press a Like button. He just visited a web page. And an announcement was made on his behalf to everyone who follows him on Facebook. Not just his friends, because now they have subscribers, who can be total strangers." (Source)
Just reading an article, listening to a song, or watching a video, you're sending information to Facebook - which can then be automatically shared with your friends or added to your profile, and Facebook doesn't ask for your permission to do it. This usually doesn't happen, but if they have this much information about you, what do you think they are doing as an advertisement company? Selling it to other companies.
Mobile Devices exacerbate the problem. Apps can tell where you are via GPS, and Facebook on many devices can tell people where you are. If you post on Facebook via Mobile it can often say "...at Suchandsuch Location", which for privacy reasons is horrible. What if you want to surprise someone? What if you are getting something special? etc.
Information Leaks: Google
Google is a search engine. Fact. However, it would be better to look at Google more like an advertising agency that has a search engine front. Google logs all the information that you put into it, just like Facebook but you use Google Searches more (probably).
GMAIL. Google Mail scans your email and selects the best advertisements for you based on content. From the Gmail FAQ: "Gmail scans and processes all messages using fully automated systems in order to do useful and innovative stuff like filter spam, detect viruses and malware, show relevant ads, and develop and deliver new features across your Google experience."
Scandals Galore: Google removed 60+ privacy policies and condensed them into one, taking out a lot of freedom and making it so they see one user across all Google products. Furthermore the FCC was investigating a problem where Google was spying on people and had to fine it $25,000 dollars for impeding their investigation. The results were shown that Google Streetview cars in an area had analyzed Wi-Fi Network Data through an area and had gathered a bunch of usernames and personal information. Sketchy.
Information Leaks: Everywhere
Lets be honest, if you don't like the idea of people seeing what you are doing you are out of luck. Or are you? There are actually quite a lot of ways to protect yourself. From heavy duty protection to a few lightweight ones, there are many ways to protect your online privacy.
Mild Protection: Logout
Just log out of things when you are done using them, this is a very simple way to make it so Google and Facebook cant watch what you are doing constantly.
Mild Protection: Browser Addons
Browser addons can help with many things, in fact there are thousands of them to help with anything you could imagine. I recently wrote a few addon articles about Firefox and Chrome that you might find interesting.
Among others on the lists above Ghosterly allows you to see what scripts are following you around the internet and what can see what you are doing, it also allows you to block them.
Moderate Protection: Incognito Mode
If you are slightly more worried, you can step it up a notch with Google Chrome or Firefox's Aurora Incognito mode which is a privacy mode that keeps no history nor cookies. This makes it so people cannot track you as well nor see what you have been doing.
Fortress Protection: Tor
This is a bit interesting to try to explain. The Tor Project protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location. Tor works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the TCP protocol.
Long story short, it gives you a new IP, allows you to change it whenever you want, and makes it so people cant track you. Just like giving you a free passport that changes whenever you want it to. Who uses this? Criminals. Just kidding. Military and Law Enforcement, Media, Activists, Businesses, and just normal people who dislike being watched constantly.
To be totally anonymous online is hard, but they have guides on the Tor website that will help you, if you feel that is how you want to be. https://www.torproject.org/
I hope that you are more informed now, both about what is watching and how to protect yourself if you feel like it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
For more information about computer security see: