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The Current State of Online Privacy and Data Security

Published on July 25, 2019

In many ways, the Internet is in its “Wild West” phase.

In other words, crooks and bandits are everywhere, rules and laws are few and far between, and if you want to protect yourself … well, it’s up to you to do the protecting.

Let’s clarify: It is possible to stay safe online in 2019. The trouble is that no one’s really paying enough attention to their own privacy to know that they should be paying attention. Furthermore, no one knows just how to go about staying safe and ensuring their own privacy and security.

As Don Baham, President, of Kraft Technology Group, LLC puts it, “most consumers don’t care about privacy.”

And should you? The experts say definitely.

You Are a Commodity

And your price is … free.

The number one reason why you should be concerned about personal and business-related privacy and security is this: Your data is everywhere online, and if the wrong people get their hands on it, the results could be catastrophic.

Let’s take Facebook, for example. Consider how Facebook makes its money. If you use Facebook, you know that their service is free. You’re free to make a personal account, a business account, a six or seven of each if you want.

This works out quite well for you. You receive a lot of services from Facebook, including a place to interact with friends and family, a network for your business, and even advertising. The platform comes ready-made with users, so you don’t even need to generate your own leads.

But … how is Facebook making money off of this?

The answer is you. Yes, they make money through advertising, but hold on. Who are they advertising to? Well, you.

Still, it’s not like television advertisements. Why Facebook is so particularly successful at nabbing advertisers in the first place is this: They hold a massive amount of user data— about almost everyone. This includes everything from your age and gender to where you went to school, what you studied, where you work, where you vacation, what you like to eat, what you shop for, who your friends are, how much money you make … the list goes on.

This is a gold mine to advertisers. And Facebook is getting rich off of it.

It’s common knowledge that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other tech giants are routinely pilfering user data and storing it. Amazon’s Alexa may seem “asleep” while you’re chatting with your family at the dinner table, but she’s really not. In fact, workers from far-off distances have the potential to listen to your conversations. Amazon states this is only to “improve the customer experience.” Yet, how do we know that?

Likewise, Google routinely tracks your movements through its range of programs and apps. If you have location tracking on your phone through Google Maps, for example, and if you take your phone wherever you go, Google literally knows where you are at all times.

So, is anyone apologizing?

Not yet, and experts say an inevitable apology is doubtful. According to Don Baham, “A genuine atonement for being careless with customer’s data is highly unlikely to occur. Why?” Again, it’s because no one seems to care.

Facebook’s privacy issues generally hurt people (or have the potential to hurt people) on the individual level. The same goes for when your financial or personal information is compromised through your credit card company scam or a medical institution security breach, for example.

These issues are definitely problematic, but on the business level, things are even more perilous. It is absolutely essential that businesses take their security seriously.
So, how do you do this?

There are good news and bad news concerning this topic.

Let’s start with the bad news.

As Laith Pahlawan of Orange Crew says, the industry of cybersecurity is starting to look increasingly like the weight loss industry — in other words, lots of gimmicks.

Recognizably, more robust cybersecurity is desperately needed. However, whenever something is desperately needed, the hawkers inevitably swoop in and cloud opportunities for real progress and improvement. In fact, Pahlawan himself says he honestly doesn’t know what to believe as it stands. Security packages claiming to “do it all” are readily available, but results are ambiguous. If nothing comes of the security after installing one of these packages, is it because it’s actually good, or is it because nothing’s happened … yet?

According to Pahlawan, however, there is hope. “The basics still work,” he says.

“The only protection I believe in is Proper Usage Practice, aided with antivirus [software], firewalls, spam filters, cybersecurity training, patching, updates, etc. … Don’t open a link you don’t know, don’t click on a link you don’t know, have internal processes for data handling, change passwords regularly, remove access of old users from your network, and backup!”

As of right now, these are the best solutions IT experts have for securing your data and privacy online.

Staff Writer