Privacy And Security: How Far Are We Willing to Go to Retain Them?

10 May 2024

The fight for privacy is reaching its peak. Social networks like Meta, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok are under heavy fire. The companies have to prove they are not gathering their users’ personal information, sell the data to governments around the globe, and have no intent to harm their users’ privacy and security.

People all around are getting tired of worrying about the safety of their private information and taking extreme measures to protect themselves online.

Online Security. So Hot Right Now. Why?

One of the most fascinating processes to watch has been the United States’ fight against TikTok. The platform that is used by 170 million Americans is going to be completely banned in the United States unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells it to an American entity.

In her statement, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee says “Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our U.S. government personnel”.

Facebook is also in a risk zone. Cybercriminals there can take over poorly protected user accounts to spread links to fake AI applications, making the app even more unsafe, especially for vulnerable user groups.

People are driven by the desire to protect themselves, their close ones, and their own data and private information. And some of us go to extreme ways to make sure it happens. Here are only a few things people do to protect themselves.

Going Low Tech

Not so long ago, phones had buttons. I know. Blows my mind too. What doesn’t blow it is when I see people still using them and shops still selling them. A lot of them are purchased by people who want to go off the grid, even if just for a little while. Not having any social media applications, constant push notifications, and messages with memes can, for example, save a huge amount of time.

Plus, modern cool-looking, button-less phones are prone to being breached. Smishing attacks (hackers getting sensitive information via text messages), break-ins via Bluetooth, malware attacks, social engineering attacks, and so on. And people who do not want to suffer from such breaches go to extreme measures and are saying a definitive “No” to smart gadgets — phones, laptops, tablets.

Rejecting the use of smart devices in the modern world is one of the toughest decisions one can take. Our lives, for better or worse, are tied to them to the extent that some people become addicted to their phones. When people start fearing for their privacy so much, they choose to toss their phones away. That is the exact time to stop and think — are we sure we are going the right way?

Going low-tech is not an option for me, so I take extra care to set up two-factor authentication on my devices and make sure that sensitive data is secure or even encrypted if need be. This is true for both my personal and professional lives. A great practice for everyone who is not ready to say goodbye to their smart devices but still wants to retain their online privacy and security.

Double-Checking Online Contacts

In the world of global interactions, we all have online friends. People we connected with over our love for cooking, watching particular TV shows, or sharing an interest in crocheting or running. But are we sure those are all real people with good intentions?

Being sure about the real personalities of people we meet online is impossible, so verifying people’s personalities is one of the best approaches to internet friendships. Here’s how to do it:

  • Checking the consistency of communication patterns — this is one of the most popular and important tell-tales of a real person behind the profile picture. Constantly changing spelling, grammar, and communication style can actually be signs of fraud and risk.

  • Setting up video calls — communicating with an online friend eye-to-eye with the help of video calls and building on that communication later on will not only help protect the data but will also serve as a catalyst for a relationship.

  • Cross-platform verification — checking whether a person’s information, data, and photos on different platforms can help establish whether the connection is legitimate or fake and actually dangerous.

Double-checking online contacts is a practice the SupportYourApp team implemented long ago. We make sure to not expose our information to unsuitable people and run background checks on our contacts and potential partners. Taking this extra step does take time and resources, but it also ensures that we are remaining breach- and leak-proof.

Using Disposable Emails

Those who have taken a “Which kind of onion are you” online test know the pain of having to enter an email address to find out whether they are a shallot. It is simply frustrating.

On a more serious note, there are plenty of times when we need to enter our emails to download e-books, register on a website where we want to make a one-time purchase or keep on reading an interesting article. This makes internet users vulnerable to leaks and breaches, where their email addresses can get into the wrong hands. It is also a way to open ourselves up to one of the most annoying things on the internet — spam emails.

This is where services like 10- and 15-minute-mail (not an ad) come into play. They allow users to get generic email addresses to enter whenever needed without exposing themselves to online danger. It is also a good way to spare one’s inbox from unnecessary messages — believe me, I get over 100 emails per day and these tools have been saving me from receiving thousands of spam emails over the years.

A lot of people still do not recognize the importance of online security and privacy. But the further into the internet era we go, the more important these questions will become. While going off the grid and checking the legitimacy of absolutely every online connection may still be considered “going too far”, it is likely they will become standard practices for keeping our data safe.