Ever since the first hackers have started exploiting loopholes in dated computer systems and networks a few decades ago, online privacy has become a major problem that people and companies alike have to deal with. As an internet user, it may be important for you to know of and understand some of the major digital privacy concerns out there.
1. Businesses Share Your Data
Most people aren't aware that any companies, from large online retail stores to those that own small social sites often share user information such as email addresses, names and interest-related data for commercial purposes. Reading privacy policies and terms of service documents before joining a website might not be such a waste of time after all.
2. Identity Theft
Online services that make use of banking information and credit card data are often targeted by identity thieves. The problem with this online security issue is that you not only risk losing your password or having your email address bombarded with spam mail. Identity theft can actually lead to hefty financial losses that may be difficult to track.
3. Search Engines
Among online privacy concerns, search engines might represent some of the most serious ones. It's important to always be careful of what you type into a search engine, as that information could be tracked, used for commercial purposes, or even disclosed to the public in some isolated cases.
4. Location Tracking
If you've been online for a few years, you probably already know that your ISP assigns a specific number to your machine called an IP address. What you might not know is that IP addresses can be tracked by the websites you visit. Advanced technology also allows the tracking of your location through your smartphone, and it can often be difficult to determine just how responsibly this information is being handled.
5. Social Media Privacy Policies
While social media platforms have revolutionized the way people view social interaction, the secondary use of information and photos posted on social networking sites has also become a significant online privacy risk. Identity thieves, debt collectors, stalkers, scam artists and many other people could be interested in the data posted by people on these sites, and the privacy policies of many social networks practically tell you that the company itself cannot be held responsible if your data is misused.
6. Hacker Attacks
Hackers may often target online email providers, cloud accounts and banking services for the purpose of gaining access to the system and to vital online data that could be worth millions. Another good reason why you might want to boost your online security is that hacker attacks can also target company networks and even individual machines.
7. Government Surveillance
A number of government surveillance programs have been launched throughout many developed countries worldwide as of late. Although most governments are more interested in spotting terrorist activity than spying on whether your neighbors are looking for porn online, this may still be an important concern to consider when starting up your browser.
8. Improper Password Protection
Finally, a privacy concern that most people should be aware of has to do with the way cloud services and companies store your passwords. Since passwords are just a string stored in an online database, they can be accessed with ease by a hacker with enough motivation.
Online privacy concerns are definitely important, and you should always try to use the best means of protecting yourself while using the Internet. Do you agree with my list? What other online privacy issues are you worried about?