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The internet has become a vital resource for people. Many people tend to rely on the internet daily to post and share photos, search for various information, send and receive emails, shop for clothes, as well as chat or send messages on social network sites and much more.

The use of free public WiFi hotspots have even made it more convenient for people to be able to connect to the internet while away from their homes.

It is sad to say that many of us tend to be too careless and casual about how we manage our activities and personal information online. This tends to leave a person vulnerable to invasion of privacy and identity theft.

When a person visits a website, posts an update on Facebook, logs into their email, or does any other type of activity, there are digital footprints that can be tracked all the way back to the person’s identity.

When a person uses public WiFi, it may leave a person very vulnerable to cyber-criminals and hackers that steal private information like credit card details, bank account details, and passwords, since most public WiFi connections are not secure.

When sensitive or personal information falls into the wrong hands, it could prove to be a very expensive thing and even cause a lot of inconveniences for a person.

Statistics about identity theft

  • In 2012, the cost of identity theft totaled around $21 Billion.
  • In 2012, 12.6 million U.S. adults were the victims of identity theft, which makes up 5.6% of U.S. adults.
  • On average an identity theft victim will spend 12 hours and $365 to repair the damages.

Who is tracking and watching you?

Think about who has access to personal information or who is able to read emails or Facebook updates? Possibly who is able to track your browsing activities?

Every time a person goes online and starts using Facebook, emailing people, checking online banking statements, or visits forums, these activities can be spied on and monitored by these people:

Internet Service Providers or ISP

Stop mass surveillance poster
“DC Rally Against Mass Surveillance” by Susan Melkisethian, used under CC BY-NC-ND

Every time someone uses the internet, the activities are logged by an ISP.

An ISP will assign an IP address to various devices every time that a person connects to the internet. From this IP address, the ISP will know every single thing that you do online, including what type of browser is used, what emails are sent and received, files downloaded, what websites are visited, etc.

Because the ISP knows the IP address, they are able to identify the name and location of a particular person.

In many cases, this is nothing that should be worried about. Although, it is very possible that a government official can sign a court order to demand access to logs and the ISP will have to give any information that is requested over. Due to the NSA privacy scandal reveal, this tends to happen more than a person would expect.

Corporations and advertisers

Personal information and even online browsing behavior data are quite valuable to corporations and advertisers. This data, which all companies tend to mine and sell or trade without the consent of any person, which help certain advertisers to pick what services or products should be promoted and what ads should be shown.

For instance, find out just 5 big things Google already knows about you.

Want some more? Here’s 5 really sensitive things Facebook knows about your personal life.

If this is bothersome, then proper precautions should be taken to not disclose or share web browsing activities and personal information.

Employers

An employer wants their employees to be productive at work, and may monitor online activities to ensure that an employee isn’t wasting time on dating sites, social media sites, or other personal activities such as games or email.

Cybercriminals and hackers

Criminal on the road
pexels.com

Cybercriminals and hackers tend to make a living out of stealing the financial and private information of people. They tend to use various methods and tools that are available to collect private information slowly over time.

They could possibly have plenty of information about a person to steal their identity. Once this has happened, it would become quite easy for them to use the stolen identity to transfer money from bank accounts, apply for credit cards in the person’s name, purchase expensive items online, file fake tax returns, and other types of crimes.

The easiest way for a cybercriminal to steal private information is by sniffing network traffic at public places that have free WiFi such as hotels, coffee shops, and airports.

Most WiFi connections are not secure. Each time that a person connects to the internet using an unsecured public WiFi, a hacker can use certain available software to sniff web traffic and steal passwords, bank account information, credit card numbers, and any other sensitive or private data.

Recent research has shown that even a password-protected home WiFi network is very vulnerable to a hacker. That is scary.

The government

US people versus NSA government total surveillance
“Restore The Fourth Amendment 25” by Stephen Melkisethian, used under CC BY-NC-ND

The government may be spying on people. They can demand private information from companies such as ISP’s, Google, and Facebook. There are reports from Google that shows how often they receive national security letters from the government that requests information about people.

Check out our other articles to get vital tips that can help to maintain your online privacy. And let us know what you think about this one in the comments below.

[Credits of the photo used for the featured image: “Caméra de vidéo-surveillance” by Frédéric BISSON, used under CC BY / Slight vignette effect added]

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