Debunking Myths About Online Privacy

Debunking Myths About Online Privacy

Now, it's more important than ever you take responsibility for protecting your private information online. And you must know what the right approaches are.

The internet has made our lives easier and better for so many reasons, but we have to give something in exchange - our privacy.

The concern for online privacy is increasing and people are starting to take action towards protecting their information from cybercriminals, governments, and advertising companies.

Even so, there are still misconceptions about internet privacy circling around that might prevent you from taking the proper actions.

So let's see what are the most common myths about online privacy.

Myth 1: No one cares about privacy

You might think people don't care much about their online privacy. And this is understandable given that, most of the time, you don't really hear your friends and family are being worried about the privacy they have when browsing online.

But even if those surrounding you don't seem concerned about the online privacy topic, it doesn't mean privacy isn't a big deal. And this awareness is slowly becoming general knowledge, with more and more people starting to be conscious of the dangers and risks you are facing in the digital world. And these risks are neither few nor to be ignored.

In fact, studies show that 7 out of 10 Americans are taking action towards protecting their online privacy more today than one year ago.

The rise of the awareness regarding internet privacy might have a lot to do with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and the increase in online fraud.

One thing is certain, lots of users are taking action to protect their internet privacy and private information, ceasing to rely on companies to do it for them.

To better protect your online privacy from now on, you can get started by following the below tips:

Myth 2: If the data is anonymous, it doesn't matter

You'll find companies that telling you that if you provide them with personal data, they will take away the identifying features, tada - it's anonymous.

Well, anonymous data is not necessarily anonymous.

In fact, it's quite easy to deanonymize the data and figure out who is who by cross-referencing sets of data that are not anonymous. For example, if we're talking about the population of a certain area, it's been demonstrated that data can be deanonymized by only looking at the date of birth, gender, and zip code. In the online world, where we're leaving lots of traces behind, the possibilities are even greater. You can be uniquely identified by linking web browsing histories to social media profiles.

Don't fall prey to providing data to those who say will keep it anonymous. Not only you'll be giving away personal information without consent, but malicious companies can use this tactic to surveil citizens in an unethical manner.

Myth 3: While incognito, websites can't track you

In an ideal world, the incognito mode or private more would actually make your journey completely private. Unfortunately, the incognito mode doesn't give as much privacy as you might expect.

While in incognito mode cookies are stored only in temporary files and deleted when the session ends, websites can still use identifiers to track you. This is called browser fingerprinting. Though fingerprinting, websites look at different characteristics such as your user time zone, plugin list, and screen resolution. While browser fingerprinting s not always accurate because more devices can share the same fingerprint, researches show that 75% of desktop devices can be uniquely identified.

If you're curious about your browser fingerprint, you can see it here.

And if you want to learn more about what incognito mode cannot do, we write this handy article:

Myth 4: Passwords offer complete safety

You might think solely using a password is enough to keep your accounts safe, right?

Well, not so much.

One reason is that passwords are not necessarily hard to crack. Sophisticated password cracking tools can produce more than 500 million combinations per second. And that's a lot! It's true that by using a complex password you'll lower the odds of it getting deciphered, and you should be doing it if not already, but there's more.

Secondly. if you're using the same password everywhere, all of your accounts are at risk. When hackers crack the password of one's account, they will use automated tools to try those login credentials on all popular sites.

And last but not least, data breaches happen, putting all users' information at the risk of being leaked. Over the years, many major companies experienced data breaches, a few examples being Yahoo, RSA, Adobe Systems, and eBay. In fact, 2018 was the year of data breaches with companies like Facebook, Quora, and British Airways ending up being victims.

So what can you do about it?

Don't rely only on the password. Make use of multi-factor authentication on all the platforms that allow it. This means having a second layer of protection for your accounts. Even if someone manages to get your login credentials, they won't be able to access your account without providing the second authentication factor.

Myth 5: You have control over your personal information

Do you think the companies and services you provide personal information to will keep your data private and you are in total control of what happens with it?

Then, you might've not read the Terms and Conditions upon registration.

There are indeed services which will misuse your personal information even though you don't give your consent, but most companies clearly state in their Terms you agree on that they are entitled to sell your data or use it some other way. But who really reads the Terms and Conditions nowadays?

For example, Google can share your personal information with other parties and use your content for all their existing or future services. And, did you know that Facebook can use your identity in ads that are shown to others and license your content to third parties?

You can see a summary of the terms on major platforms on Terms of Service; Didn't Read. They also have a browser extension that allows you to quickly check the terms of the website you're browsing. Quite useful to make you aware of what you agree on when you're registering for a service.

Myth 6: Privacy is the same as security

Probably one of the biggest misconceptions in the online world is that privacy and security are one and the same thing. While they do go hand in hand, they refer to different things and you should know about these differences.

Why is it important to differentiate privacy from security? Because if you don't know what each of them stands for, you might find yourself saying your online privacy is strong because you have the latest antivirus or that you can lay back and enjoy a safe online ride because you're using Tor to hide your identity.

So let's get some perspective.

Online privacy is related to your personal information including things like your browsing history, name, online behavior, location, devices used. Everything that can be collected by websites and used to identify you. You protect your privacy by preventing websites to track your activity, using a private browser like Tor, VPN services to hide your location, and being careful with the information you provide online.

Security refers to how your personal information is protected so you're safe against hacker attacks. It's the layer of protection you add to your computer, smartphone, and even web browsers and platforms. For this, you use tools such as antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption tools.

A great analogy is to think about a window protected by bars. The windows are indeed secured, but people passing by can still see you through the window.

Myth 7: Any VPN makes you private online

One of the best ways to keep yourself private when browsing online is by using a VPN. With a VPN, your connection is routed through a remote server instead of your ISP's server, so the websites you'll be visiting have no way of telling what your real location is, which means they can't track your activity. Furthermore, you also keep your online activity private from your ISP because they can only see you're connected to the VPN server, but everything behind that is concealed.

VPNs also strengthen your online security as they create a secure tunnel by encrypting the whole internet traffic.

But, for a VPN to genuinely increase your privacy and security, the VPN server must be trustworthy, else it will do more harm than good.

Your first temptation after deciding to use a VPN might be to start looking for free VPN services. After all, who doesn't like free stuff? The thing is, free stuff is never free. You might pay for it by giving up your privacy.

Studies show that of VPN apps use third-party tracking libraries and 82% request permission to access sensitive user data such as user accounts. In addition, 18% implement tunneling without encryption and 84% do not tunnel IPv6 and DNS traffic, which allow third parties to track online activities.

See more about the risks of using a free VPN in the article below.

A reliable VPN service uses strong encryption, does not track your online activity to sell it to third parties, and keeps no logs. These types of VPN services are not free, but there are lots of VPNs out there that are cheap and guarantee your privacy.

Our VPN recommendation

The DrSoft VPN provides a reliable software that will give you back the privacy and freedom you deserve when browsing online. Upon installing our software you'll:

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But don't take our words for granted. Register for a subscription and find it for yourself. If you're not happy with our services, we have a 30-day money-back policy even though, we're pretty sure you'll love it.

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