4 February 2014

How Private is your 'Private Life'?


Privacy; A word defined in the English dictionary as, "a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people". 

The question is, just how true is this definition in terms of its use in the modern world, the world we live in today? Has social networking and the use of internet changed the definition of 'privacy' for good? How private are our private lives?

Over the last decade or so, we have witnessed many attacks and invasions of privacy. Cast your minds back to the year 2011, and headlines announcing the closure of the UK's national red top newspaper, "NEWS of the World", set right back into our minds. Regarded as a betrayal to national law and security, the well established newspaper company was brought to a halt. Setting a precedent, it showed what the country stood for.

But the above is all "big talk", something which really does not concern us by much.

We have all been victims of that prank where our friends have taken control of our social networks and posted some rather silly, immature and mean statuses along with pictures. Believe it or not before writing this article I have been hacked more than 6 times by friends and unknown identities!

Today, we all have so much more private and personal data floating around the internet, key examples are PayPal accounts, Google wallets and internet banking accounts, posing on us some serious threats both online and offline. If your money is not really 'safe' online, how safe are you?

Google yourself and you'll find that some key data about you, such as your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other profiles alongside the most basic information about you pops up. These are typically the most accessed and viewed fragments of personal information and references of you online. Just a fraction of what can be unearthed with a simple 'Google Search'.

This is the data you know about. The data that you have decided to publish yourself, but is all the data about you, always published by yourself? Scared?

What is even more scary, is the fact that data can be collected without you even being aware of it, for example location data. Any mobile that is switched on, can allow location to be tracked to accuracies of less than 100 metres. Furthermore devices with GPS enabled and switched on can be located and tracked to accuracies of about 3 metres. Whilst allowing your phone to be tracked if lost, it also allows you to be tracked at all times.

Smart card such as ID Cards and Oyster Cards also allow your position and movement to be tracked as you check in and out of places. Is someone keeping a close watch on you?

Everyone has heard about, Google and how they collect search data via cookies and trackers to personalise the ads they show to you. Have you ever thought about how your email inbox figures out which emails are spam or contain viruses? Whilst most of these checks are run by harmless softwares and computers, what guarantee is there that a human will not access your emails?

Finally Biometric security. Since its encounter with technology, biometric security has very quickly and increasingly becoming the most used and sought after technique to secure you and your data online. Whilst there aren't many techniques to harness and hack such data, how long is it before hackers find a way around it and start collecting even more intimate information about you?

Putting all the above mentioned loop holes in privacy together, I am sure you'll agree that the advancements in technology have given rise to a whole new level of security threats which are being addressed. Whilst its near impossible to eradicate the use of most technology, which may invade your privacy, we can all take precautions.

Through this blogpost, I do not intend to induce thoughts and feelings of paranoia, its just a humble attempt to inform and raise awareness. But really, the question still remains; How Private is your "private life"? How Private is your "Private Life"?

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