How safe is your data online?

Pooja Kalangutkar
Saturday, 14 April 2018

As the reach of social media has increased, it has taken over our lives. Today, we live less to enjoy and more to make it ‘public’ through social media. Person-to-person communication has lost its charm as technology has intervened. We tend to share everything online without realising how it is going to affect us. The recent data breach by social media giant Facebook has actually made the users think twice about their social media presence.

As the reach of social media has increased, it has taken over our lives. Today, we live less to enjoy and more to make it ‘public’ through social media. Person-to-person communication has lost its charm as technology has intervened. We tend to share everything online without realising how it is going to affect us. The recent data breach by social media giant Facebook has actually made the users think twice about their social media presence.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook have said that the data breach from their side has affected 87 million users which is way higher than the estimated 50 million. Facebook users who have downloaded their data have found that Facebook has their private data too, including phone call history and even text messages of not just recent past but also data dating decades ago.

Most of the Internet users or I would say social media users do not know that whatever you post online is there forever. Don’t be mistaken that you have deleted your history or your post so it is gone. Once it is online, it is permanently there. Even after being aware of it, we tend to give out our personal data.

I remember this one thing which a cyber industry expert had informed us in a cyber security class in the college. He had said, “always remember before you post anything or let any information on the Internet, stop, think and then click to post.”

Well, but we are always in a hurry of not just being active on social media but also in general, we hardly think before we act.
Now, at least after this major data scandal, I think it is time that Internet users need to aware and educated about cyber security, not just on social media platforms but otherwise too. Though there is no permanent solution to be safe online, there are a few basic measures you can take.

Limit your private info 
Keep an eye on what private information you are giving out online, especially on social networking sites. See that your private information is not part of any of your passwords, like your birth date or the names of your loved ones. Remember sometimes you are asked security questions while setting passwords?

Privacy settings
Privacy settings are available for a reason we usually tend to ignore. Not completely secure but to some extent yes. 
Whichever social media site, be it Facebook, Instagram or even WhatsApp for that matter, have their privacy settings. Learn about them and apply according to your security preference.
Be careful of apps and games

Anything you post on Facebook or checking into a location or posting some photo, or even if you like a friend’s status, you are giving Facebook data. 

To quote a website on how Facebook data is given out, it says, “Any time you interact with a third-party developer or games such as FarmVille and apps that show you what your profile photo would look like if you were older or a different gender, or tell you what the most popular song was the year you graduated from high school - you are giving your data to Facebook and to that developer. 

Sometimes in ways, you may not realise, like sharing a post about the most popular song during the year you graduated high school tells Facebook what year you graduated from high school, even if that information isn’t on your profile.”

Now you get? It is complicated. You do it for fun but you do not realise that these apps are actually scanning through your profile without your realisation and yes, with your permission. So, you do have a choice to stay away from these apps.

Safe download
Most of the time when downloading, have you noticed an additional window opens up. 

This is basically some kind of malware that enters your system. Not just this, even some advertisements on social networking sites, which you click on to open can transfer malware. So, beware!

Also, when you download apps on your android phones before installation, it asks you for certain permissions like access to your contacts, messages, gallery, etc, and we without giving much heed to it accept the terms and conditions. So next time, be careful. This is just basics of how you can be safe online. For better guidelines, you can always go to the Internet or consult an expert. 

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