The Boon and Bane Behind Your Digital Presence

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: October 14, 2015
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The Boon and Bane Behind Your Digital Presence

A lot can happen under the shroud of invisibility. The Internet creates this shrouded nook – a place from where one can observe or participate, but not without leaving behind a digital footprint that can be followed. Identity theft and data breaches are now commonplace enough to warrant constant concern especially for organizations and business owners. Are your online transactions secure? Who can access your databases or your customer information?

The answers to these questions keep varying as much as new ways to breach digital platforms keep emerging. But there is still much that can be done to combat these threats, sometimes simply by understanding what they are.

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The Threats

When Senator Clinton’s personal emails were hacked from a source in Serbia, the furor it created then and its after-effects now tell the story of an unwitting victim and a not-so-tech-savvy hacker on the other end. Hackers are constantly the ghosts we fear in the dark. However, more often than not, it’s an entire system and placement of things in the chaos that one needs to worry about.

The threats? They are everywhere with the overall growing dependency on multiple devices connected to a common network. Hospitals, for instance, rely heavily on medical devices that relay patient information for ease of access. While the system’s advantages are undeniable, so is its vulnerability.

At the very simplest form, these threats lurk in social media platforms, retail websites, your email, and in other digital spaces we frequent every day. There is a lot more activity in the background than one suspects when posting pictures or downloading applications into mobile phones and tablets.

Every time you visit a website, it collates data about your visit and sets a cookie in your browser to remember your visit. A retail website, for instance, uses this data to remember your preference or products you were interested in to ensure you enjoy easier navigation on your subsequent visits.

As logical as the explanation sounds, it still doesn’t keep your personal information safe. Could these navigation features also inadvertently help a hacker or cyber stalker find your credit card information on the site? The answer here can quite easily be a yes.

Protecting Your Privacy and Identity in the Digital Age

If all this information makes you look at your smartphone with some apprehension, take heart, you can still survive the digital era with your personal information intact. And here’s how you can get started:

  • Reading the privacy policy - The hacker might not care so much about it, but you should. Decoding the privacy policy means you get a better understanding of what your device is tracking and what you are agreeing to as well.
  • Look into your browser’s box of cookies – There are bound to be plenty. Check your browser’s settings, some of them allow you to block third party, i.e. the ads you see in websites, cookies. If not, you can always install plug-ins.
  • Switch off your data or WiFi access – If your device does not need to be connected, leave it that way.
  • Creating multiple IDs – It is advisable to create a different user profile or ID for various platforms, categorizing them for work or social use. This helps create some ambiguity over your identity, consequently offering you better protection.

The Internet of Things

The term has been popular since its inception in 1999. IoT, in its brief form, offers advanced connectivity of systems, devices and services, far beyond machine-to-machine communications. It covers a broad range of domains, applications and protocols, in essence creating a chain of smart applications, linked together for better efficiency and economic benefit.

The projections for the future of IoT are impressive. But the challenge lies in equipping your business to find its place in this arena without the baggage of digital threats.

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