Nowadays with the heavy use of mobile devices and the internet, many people tend to disregard the dangers associated with our personal information in regards to these new scenarios. We share more about ourselves that we would have normally shared in the physical world. Whenever you visit different websites or use different apps, you always leave some traces behind. These traces are used by marketers, product analysts, political analysts, trend analysts, law enforcements (in some countries) as well as criminal organizations to make a full profile of yourself. Infact with these small fragments of data, they know you better than you know yourself. Some of such profiles can include, but is not limited to:

Your name and bio data
This information can be used in multiple ways against you, ranging from fake accounts or adding you in petitions you didn’t even participate in. Even your health information can be found through your searches.
Your Biometric data
Society is moving towards biometric recognition these days, by giving away such information, for example not only you expose yourself for fake accounts to use your facial details, but it can be used unscrupulously to even unlock features that depend on your facial profile.Videos you make online can be modified to mean something else.
Your Sexual fantasies
You might think your sexual fantasies are hidden only to you and normally in a conversation you may not pour it out to the public, but with the internet, you do give away certain information that eventually can be correlated back to you.
Who you stalk
Who you have a crush on can easily be determined from your browsing habits
Who your friends are
With many social networks around and users who allow their profile accessible to the public, such information is easily available.
What you like or dislike
These can easily be determined based on where you go to eat or what you post, all these small details can be merged together to make a profile and based on your gps data everywhere you go, customized ads can appear to tempt you to make purchases you did not truly plan.
Your Financial Situation
From what you look online, companies can even know around how much you have in your bank account.
How you react emotionally
With what you share, such information can easily be found and while you think it is far-fetched, such information can be used to manipulate you to act on emotions and sway your political opinions so as to act as part of a herd reaction.
Your political affiliation
By what you share, comment or even view, the information is out there, and can be used against you

What can you do about it?
The best way is to simply not be online. But since most of us cannot do that, here are some basic things you can do, these include:

  • Use the private browsing mode of your browser as far as possible
  • Try browsers like: Firefox, Brave or Tor Browser.
  • If you do not want to change browsers you can enhance the privacy of your current browser by using browser extensions such as:
  • Privacy Badger
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • uBlock Origin
  • Always make your profile private in any social network
  • Hide your friend list
  • Try not to post images of yourself online, nowadays these are automatically scanned and a computer program already knows who you are
  • Do not click on links that you do not know,
  • If you use Google, Verify the Google transparency report
    Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing use information input by users to tailor advertisements and perform complex analytics on your data. It is recommended to use a privacy friendly search engine that does not log / track your searches. An example of such service is duckduckgo.
  • Keep your main email address and phone number private
  • Avoid using your real information / Google-Facebook profile to signup on untrusted websites. Instead use a screen name and create an email address to be used for websites signup.
  • Social media games and applications often require unnecessary permissions such as access to your messages, friend list, pictures among others. It is recommended to review permissions required by the applications and not grant access to sensitive information such as private messages.
  • Review permissions for new mobile applications and browser extensions before installing.
  • While installing a new application, it is important to review the permissions it requires and grant them on a least-privilege basis. Applications often use location permissions to track users or use contact access permissions to steal contacts for marketing purposes.
  • Avoid using public WiFi and instead only use trusted Internet connections.

Remember what you share in one website, can be eventually shared with another website and over time can be used to build such a profile without you even having a clue. Better be safe than sorry.

By Pirabarlen Cheenaramen

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