konnect Issue-date: 30th December, 2019.



Aditi T
2nd year student studying Computer Science engineering
ISA-Bangalore Student Section, Vellore Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu, India

TOPIC “ Data Privacy”

Privacy has always been important. It is the reason why people put locks on filing cabinets their houses, phones or basically anything that they consider valuable. In this day and age when all of our data is digitized the need to protect our privacy has increased. A single company may possess personal information of thousands of individuals. This is because we use a lot of apps everyday in order to help us with our day-to-day activities. Data privacy refers to how information or data should be handled based on its importance, relatively speaking. For example, you would not mind giving your name and contact number to a friend but you would be against giving those same details to somebody you do not know or someone who you do not know very well.

There are many ways that your privacy is violated.

1. Internet Service Provider

It starts from the same place that your internet comes from- your internet service provider. Your internet service providers log basic information connected to your account like:

This data is called non-personally identifying information or non PII. PII refers to any information that can be used to identify an individual. Internet Providers can also keep information about your Traffic, like which URLs you have visited or where you are surfing. This data is PII.If you are person that cares about your Personal Information and your Privacy, first you need to read carefully your Internet Provider’s Privacy Policy.

Most people use VPN’s to bypass this violation of privacy by encrypting their communication. virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network. The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping on the traffic and allows the user to conduct work remotely. VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments.

A VPN extends a corporate network through encrypted connections made over the Internet. Because the traffic is encrypted between the device and the network, traffic remains private as it travels. An employee can work outside the office and still securely connect to the corporate network. Even smartphones and tablets can connect through a VPN.

Secure remote access provides a safe, secure way to connect users and devices remotely to a corporate network. It includes VPN technology that uses strong ways to authenticate the user or device. VPN technology is available to check whether a device meets certain called a device’s posture, before it is allowed to connect remotely. Traffic on the virtual network is sent securely by establishing an encrypted connection across the Internet known as a tunnel. VPN traffic from a device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone is encrypted as it travels through this tunnel.

2. Search Engines

Search Engines collect lot of personal data like, what we search on Internet, but many of them have a great more services and you need an Account. If you are logged into your more Private Data that you want them to. It’s what you agree upon when you create your account and accept their Terms of Service. In this case they know everything about you: what you search for, what websites you visit, where you are, what ads you’ve clicked.

3. Cookies


We can all agree that cookies are awesome and the Cookie Monster is right, however the cookies that your browser keeps on your computer are evil! Cookies are generally Global Variables in Programming languages. Web applications need cookies to store application settings, even after you close the Browser. This way it’ll know your app settings when you start the application next time.

Marketers and marketing software, find this useful to track Website Visitors and create Visitor’s Profile. This information is non-PII information, but if you care about your Privacy, it’s good to know that someone tracks your visits.

Today, after many years of Internet, many people are aware of these cookies and Browsers have way to delete the stored cookies. So, people delete cookies on a regular basis. Many Websites have Cookie Policy Statement, that is shown when you visit the website and you have to agree upon it. In order to be safe, it is advised to read the cookie policy statements of websites before you agree or use a good extension.

4. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., they all have a lot of information about you, your Geographical data and behavioural data connected to your interests.

Also, they all have options to setup your account how you want to deal with your Personal Data and Privacy. You can restrict who you want to see your Posts, who can comment on your timeline, who can be friend with you.

However, you can not change the way the Social Media Platforms deal with your data. Since, most of them are free to use, they make money on creating user’s profiles and exchanging those profiles with advertisers.

Therefore it is recommended to keep your profile private, and make sure you only share your personal data with people you know. There have been lots of cases where people have been cheated (or catfished) by people who put up incorrect details on their social media profiles.

5. Subscriptions and E-commerence Websites

Today, there are many online services that require your Personal Info when signing up for their Service. They collect lot of Personal data, so you need to read carefully their Privacy Policy. Also, they collect your credit card information, which are very sensitive financial information. These websites need to have the latest security techniques on their websites like SSL encryption.

Nowadays a lot of us use applications like G-pay or Paytm where we are told to link our bank accounts to our profile, while these apps have ensured us that our financial data is secure with them it is important for us to remember that we should not share our private details like UPI pin or passwords with anyone.

6. Email

We all use Email in our everyday communication. If someone intercepts our emails and they are not encrypted, they can read the emails. While communicating over email, we send very sensitive information and we don’t want someone to read our emails.

Email is one to one (or many) communication, so only the sender and the recipient(s) should be able to read the message. But, many governments have National Security Agencies that can read all your Email communications, if they want.

Mainstream email services allow themselves to scan your emails for keywords (not to say read your emails), so they can create a profile of you and sell that data to advertisers. So, what you do by using free email services, is let them use you and your data as a product.

Also, hackers enjoy intercepting sensitive data and grabbing it, so that they can sell it on the Dark Web, or maybe use it for hurting the person or the company whose data they have. So, if your email communication is not encrypted, your data is not safe out there.

Many people think that if they use VPN their email communication is protected, but what happens on the Intranet? Even if your data is encrypted while it travels through the VPN tunnel, you don’t know what happens on the Intranet. Your communication may be intercepted on that side, by you don’t know who. You don’t know where that network is, whose governments is in charge of it, or who other has access to it.

Therefore, even if you use a VPN the best way to secure your Email Communication is to use Encrypted Email Service like the one Secure Swiss Data offers.

So enjoy all the best features our digitised world has to offer, but do not forget to stay safe on the internet!

References:
  1. https://www.varonis.com/blog/data-privacy/
  2. https://www.lifelock.com/learn-identity-theft-resources-what-is-data-privacy-and-why-is-it-important.html