6 Thoughts on Digital Security

David Rudd, Staff Writer

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Security is, I would say, our top priority because for all the exciting things you will be able to do with computers – organizing your lives, staying in touch with people, being creative – if we don’t solve these security problems, then people will hold back. – Bill Gates

 

Everyone sells your information and there is no avoiding it

Every platform you use is selling your information. They need to make money and turning to advertising is the only way companies such as Google, Youtube, Facebook, and Snapchat can make enough money to uphold and profit from their operation. These companies use your past history to figure out what you like and they push out content or advertisements to match specific interests.

 

The College Board sells students’ data to fraudulent sites

Selling information for just 47 cents per student, College Board allows all sorts of companies access to personal data such as names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. College Board has faced fierce criticism for not making it obvious to students that their data is being sold, and in 2013 the College Board was sued over these practices. Companies who buy such information are often involved in the overinflation of their status and look only to sell students and parents a misleading product or membership.

 

There is a pathway for online anonymity.

Through the use of VPNs and signing up for accounts with emails unassociated with any private data, one can achieve total anonymity. This can be beneficial for someone even if they don’t necessarily have something to hide. Wanting to keep oneself hidden from people even if friends allows one to branch out without any outside pressure. However, anonymity does not mean that your profile isn’t being traced and appealed to.

 

So many breaches…

Over the last decade, it is a fairly regular occurrence to hear that a massive company with valuable data such as social security and credit card numbers has suffered a cyber attack. This has allowed hackers access to millions of people’s data. This forces the average person who went shopping at Target, for example, to fear their credit cards may be charged for unwanted purchases.

 

It’s worth it – kind of…

In handing out your personal information and browsing data, companies can structure their products around you in particular. For example, Google Maps learns your daily commutes and will alert you of any unusual traffic on your route and estimated times of arrival. Youtube will personalize video recommendations that you will likely click on and watch. Some people may consider the trade off of their personal data for a better experience to be worth it. Ultimately that is dependent on circumstances and the individual.

 

This is our world now

There is no avoiding the use of your data. The only thing one can do is limit how much gets out there. Multiple sites offer ways to block trackers and prevent personalized ads. When using the internet it is important to stay smart, and not handout emails, passwords, or download unknown programs. Also, it’s important to recognize that future employers may be able to view past actions that can harm someone’s reputation. Ultimately, there are massive privacy concerns when using the internet, but if you stay smart you can achieve the benefits while staying secure.