How to Protect Your Privacy and Confidentiality Online, 17 Ways

2
By: | June 8, 2021 | Tags: , , ,
privacy and confidentiality

Are you worried about privacy and confidentiality online?

My husband is worried about online privacy and confidentiality. He makes up cryptic passwords in Japanese, a language he used to be fluent in.

The passwords are cryptic since he intentionally misspells them.

Are privacy and confidentiality this important for him to go to these extreme lengths to confuse hackers?

Yes.

Why is network security important enough for him to go through this trouble?

Certainly, there are privacy and confidentiality apps you can use to protect your passwords.

Privacy and confidentiality are such a concern to my husband and people like him, he doesn’t even trust the password apps to protect his privacy.

This post is timely. A February 2021 article by TechRadar reported over three billion email and password combination pairs were leaked. These data breaches occur regularly.

This guide explains how to boost your peace of mind by improving your privacy and confidentiality online.

In addition to peace of mind, you protect yourself from being victimized. When you’re hacked, you risk being a victim of financial theft and identity theft. At the very least, you will lose time trying to fix the situation hackers caused.

In fact, hackers stole my identity. I was billed for a rental of a Mercedes I knew nothing about. Ultimately, I didn’t have to pay the bill but clearing up this misunderstand took time.

By reading this post, you discover the history of hacking, the history of privacy and confidentiality concerns on social media sites, and what you can do to protect your privacy and confidentiality online. You also learn the meaning of the terms “phishing,” “hacking,” “malware,” “spam,” and other related terms.

Let’s get started learning how to protect ourselves online by decreasing our privacy and confidentiality risks.

What Do “Privacy” and “Confidentiality” Mean?

“Privacy” is a person’s right to have some control over how his or her personal information is used, collected, and shared. “Confidentiality refers to the extent information is able to be kept secret.

Why You Need Privacy and Confidentiality Protections

I keep getting emails from Amazon and PayPal that aren’t really sent from them trying to get my financial information by asking me to reset passwords. The Atlantic confirms email is dangerous due to phishing and hacking schemes.

Most adults know not to talk to a stranger in person. However, online, adults seem too eager to share personal information with people they don’t know.

Spam

Emails

Have you ever received unwanted emails?

When you sign up to receive items online, you give your email address. Companies turn around and sell their email lists. Therefore, when you sign up to receive things and are asked to give your email address to create an account, your privacy and confidentiality are at risk.

Your email is then cluttered with spam and many offers that may be fake.

Clicking on those links can bring malware into your device.

For instance, when you fill out a form to get an app, you give the app permission to use your contact information.

Your email goes on a mailing list that gets sold. You, then, get bombarded with emails you didn’t ask for trying to market to you. This is called “spam.”

Look at an email I received:

I unsubscribed from this email list since I did not sign up to receive emails from this company.

Texts

You might also receive unwanted texts.

These could be scams and not even actual marketing communications.

If you click, you could expose yourself to malware designed to spy on your online activity.

If a message seems suspicious, assume it is.

You can click “unsubscribe” to get off the lists, but that takes time to complete extra steps.

It’s true: I receive links I want to click, but I’m not sure if they’re harmful. For instance, I am a Dodger fan. I receive texts offering 30% off on Dodger merchandise, I’m tempted, but I’m not sure if the offers are legitimate.

privacy and confidentiality

I realize I can opt out from receiving the emails, but I don’t want to opt out since I might want the merchandise. I’m also afraid to click Opt Out or Stop out of fear of clicking on what could be a suspicious link. I never signed up to get on this list in the first place, after all.

Phishing

When scammers “phish,” they try to get you to put your email and password into a site you think you recognize.

Picture this scenario:

You get a message from a site you trust.

It might look official, but if it asks you to reset your username or password, it could be a scam to get your personal information such as your financial information.

Phishing might ask you to reset your password, a common setup to get your username and password.

Identity Theft: Scammers can steal your identity online to get your money from a bank account or your credit cards.

Hacking

Hackers break through security systems that protect computer networks.

The term “hackers” has a negative association but has not always been a bad term. The term “hackers” used to be synonymous with the term “coders.”

Malware

“Malware” is short for “malicious software.”

A computer virus copies itself by inserting its code into other programs and becomes cloning factories.

Anti-virus software needs updates to keep your devices safe.

Malware can slow performance, delete files, take over your computer, and spy on you.

There are many types of malware:

Trojans: A Trojan virus is an example of malware. It waits inside your computer waiting to attack. Malware poses as something desirable. If you accidentally click, you are vulnerable to an attack.

An attack includes your sensitive data such as your address and account numbers; addresses no longer have privacy and confidentiality.

Worms: Worms are another type of malware. Malware inhabits connections of devices in your home and then spreads.

Ransomware: Some malware block your access to your machine. Ransomeware asks a ransom to give you access to your electronic device.

Spyware: Spyware is malware that spies on you. Do you want privacy and confidentiality when it comes to your finances? Of course, you do.

Why is network security important? Spyware can watch the keys you press on your keyboard and use the information to steal your user names and copy your passwords and credit card numbers. Spyware can empty your bank accounts.

Spyware tracks your website browsing data and then sells the information to advertisers.

Adware: Adware launches ads while you’re online. If you click, the hackers get money. Most are scams.

Malware targets email accounts and your contacts on social networks. They send spam messages to your contacts.

The History of Privacy and Confidentiality

In the 1950s: MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) wouldn’t allow coders to work with the expensive machines, so coders became sneaky and wrote their own programs for the machines.

The coders used “hacking” to mean “refining code,” like a secret art form.

1961: MIT’s coders who were programmers wrote code for a Space War game. The hackers shared the code, and other programmers added to it making the game more elaborate.

Space War formed the core of the Hacker Ethic. Tech enthusiasts loved more than just the machines. They wanted to see how the computers worked, so they wanted access to the code.

1960’s: The telephone wires were often hacked. “Freakers” built machines to mimic phone call tones. This was illegal. The Hacker Organization wanted to make individuals powerful instead of just companies.

The Home Brew Computer Club formed. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was a member. Club members helped people build their own PCs. The people who believe in the Hacker Ethic share ideas. They believe in a collective effort.

1970- 1980’s. The U.S. military was testing systems and gave limited access to a new generation of college students, a new era of hackers.

At MIT, they recoded the system so more users can access at once.

It’s true: Hackers helped build the world we live in for better and for worse. After all, people use computers every day where huge amounts of information are freely available.

Some modern hackers are inspired by the early hackers’ creativity.

At MIT, they have contests called “Hackathons” where they match creative codes.

There are also “Black Hat” Coders who steal information and credit cards. They knock out computer systems.

Since these hackers are destructive, companies hire “White Hat” hackers to stop the Bad Hat hackers.

Some “Hacktivists” have political goals. They expose the private information of those they don’t agree with. They are online vigilantes.

The end result: Today, people can take over your computer.

We are left with scary and illegal situations involving privacy and confidentiality.

Privacy and Confidentiality Concerns on Social Media Sites

Facebook

privacy and confidentiality on facebook

In 2018 and 2019, Facebook was accused of selling users’ data in what was known as the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.

According to the source,

“Facebook breached data protection laws by failing to keep users’ personal information secure, allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the data of up to 87 million people without their consent worldwide.”

I was affected and I needed to reset my password. A great number of people were affected.

The fallout from the scandal continued.

The social media site, MeWe, started in 2012, before the data breach. MeWe rebranded as a secure alternative to Facebook that would protect your privacy and confidentiality.

Since MeWe is a Facebook clone, MeWe calls itself the “Facebook alternative” and “the anti-Facebook.” More detailed information about MeWe vs Facebook can be found in this MeWe review.

According to a source, Facebook ultimately paid a $643,000 fine, and the #DeleteFacebook hashtag has been sporadically appearing on Twitter since 2018.

Is this old news? No! This situation is timely.

In April of 2021, according to Axios, a hacker released the personal data of Facebook users whose privacy and confidentiality were violated by Facebook in 2019 during the scandal. Facebook responded by explaining the situation was cleared up in 2019.

Google+

Google+ also proved your privacy and confidentiality can be vulnerable when in the wrong hands.

In 2018, Google engineers discovered a massive data breach. Google was not able to bounce back from the scandal and Google+ folded early the next year.

Many Google Plus blogs are still looking for a new home.

Instagram

I used to be able to access my Instagram account both online and using the Instagram app.

Then, starting several months ago, each time I tried to use Instagram on my desktop computer, I would get locked out and asked to reset my password.

Being locked out of Instagram is definitely a disadvantage of Instagram I repeatedly encounter trying to use Instagram.

privacy and confidentiality Instagram phishing

Instagram kept sending me notices that I was involved in a phishing scam. I thought I was being accused of perpetrating a phishing scam and trying to lure people to give me their user names and passwords.

Resetting my password so often got tiresome. I asked the Instagram Reddit subreddit for advice. Someone explained Instagram felt I was a victim of a phishing scam and not a criminal.

Someone else suggested Instagram felt my user name and password combination was logged into too many devices.

Ever since, I only use the Instagram app on my mobile device, and the problem hasn’t reoccurred.

TikTok

Former President Trump’s concerns over privacy and confidentiality when the U.S. had tensions with China led him to try to ban TikTok downloads in the U.S.

Trump explained he was concerned that our data would be in the hands of the Chinese with whom the U.S. was at odds.

On Quora, the question and answer site, Quora users were asked if TikTok is safe from hackers.

My first thought was that Trump inflamed concerns. However, many of the responses were offered after Trump left office. The unanimous answer was “No.” In other words, TikTok is not safe from hackers.

Several Quorans explained their reasoning:

February 28, 2021

“Of course not 🙂
Nothing is hackerproof.
Even the most advanced technology can be hacked, it may take a long time to do so, but it will definitely be done.

See what anonymous [hackers] do, they can break into every server/platform and even announce it.”

January 7, 2021

“A security flaw in China’s TikTok app was found. It lets hackers use text messages to control accounts. Popular video-sharing app TikTok had “multiple” security vulnerabilities, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Check Point. The vulnerability was disclosed to TikTok and patched.”

How to Increase Your Privacy and Confidentiality Protections: Do’s and Don’ts

Read the Privacy, Confidentiality, and Disclosure Agreement.

Request companies not sell your personal information.

Let’s examine my unwanted email again.

privacy and confidentiality

Do you see the bottom of the screenshot? I have rights as a Californian that companies not sell my private data. I’m sure these are uniform protections.

Set your social media profile to “private.”

Use strong passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols. Use both upper-case and lower-case letters.

Vary your passwords for each site and app.

Don’t share your passwords.

Keep your passwords in a safe place.

Don’t give any personal information to strangers. Keep your identity a secret.

Don’t click on unknown emails or texts.

If an email or text seems unusual, ask the sender before clicking.

Delete emails and texts from strangers.

Avoid strange websites.

Be cautious with online friends you’ve never met.

Don’t download files unless you’re sure they are safe.

Read the Privacy and Confidentiality Policy of your credit card company. These Terms and Conditions are required by law. This explains how companies plan on using your personal information.

If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable at social media sites, report the cyberbullying to the site’s administrator. Don’t believe your concerns will go unheeded. Many offenders end up in Facebook Jail as a result of such reports.

Install anti-virus software and keep the software up to date.

Privacy and Confidentiality: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Privacy and Confidentiality Important?

If companies don’t respect your privacy and confidentiality, they will sell your personal data making you vulnerable to spam and other unwanted schemes.

How is Privacy Different From Confidentiality?

Privacy is your right. You have a right to privacy. However, firms are ethically obligated to keep your personal information confidential.

How Do You Protect Privacy and Confidentiality?

Don’t click on suspicious links, and don’t give your user name and password combination to anyone. When you make passwords, use strong passwords with unusual characters and upper-case and lower-case letters.

Wrapping Up: Privacy and Confidentiality Protections Online

Readers, please share so the internet community learns to boost their privacy and confidentiality protections online.

I look forward to your views in the comment section. Why is network security important? Do you have any tips for boosting privacy and confidentiality online?

This post about privacy and confidentiality was made possible by the support of our readers.

Sources for Privacy and Confidentiality Information

“Hackers.” BrainPOP, www.brainpop.com/technology/computerscience/hackers/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

“Information Privacy.” BrainPOP, www.brainpop.com/technology/digitalcitizenship/informationprivacy/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

“Malware.” BrainPOP, www.brainpop.com/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

  1. Vivienne

    I’m definitely going to share this as soon as I get onto my pc. Ad sharing is sometimes hit and miss.

    • Janice Wald

      Thanks Vivienne! I appreciate the share!
      Janice

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instagram
LinkedIn
Share
%d bloggers like this: