Online privacy should not be taken for granted. Nowadays, more than ever, we need to be aware of every move we make on the Internet because data security is at a premium, and there have been misleading beliefs, too. Here are five online privacy myths that have held us back for too long:
“Everyone uses public Wi-Fi, so it should be safe”
WRONG! While there is no denying that public Wi-Fi networks are handy and can save our lives in a pinch, the fact that “everybody uses them” doesn’t make them secure. To the contrary, since they are public, you don’t know the identities and backgrounds of every person connected to them so that you may be interacting in the same environment as hackers, crypto miners, malware developers, or identity thieves.
The public Wi-Fi hotspots being regarded as “safe” is nothing more than an online privacy myth. Everything you do or share while being in there can be considered a trace, and cybercriminals are always ready to pounce on your cookies, login credentials, credit card numbers, or any other information you leave behind.
You will be better off avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, regardless if it is protected by a password or not. Your information could be in jeopardy via the man-in-the-middle attack, and even if you aren’t the victim of a crime, your data is logged and handled by third-parties that offer you annoying ads that may hinder your browsing experience and undermine your privacy.
“The Incognito mode will provide all the privacy I need”
Wrong again! Several browsers come with an “Incognito” or “Private browsing” mode, so the pages that the user visits are not kept under the browsing history or the cookies. However, you are in front of an online privacy myth if you think that is enough.
The Incognito mode will prevent your family or friends from seeing what you did in that particular session, but the data you share or what you visited will be kept by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and will also remain in the registers of the pages you entered while being on “Private” mode.
“I want privacy in social media; I can configure my account so no one can see what I do”
WRONG! It is true that in social media platforms, you can choose to configure privacy settings so you may choose who has access to your information, photos, posts, and updates among your “friends” or followers. However, that doesn’t mean that your data is entirely private.
Platforms such as Facebook have numerous privacy settings that are considered handy. However, who protects you in the event of a hack? Not to mention that your preferred outlet will also have logs of everything you do while you are inside the network.
In the case of Facebook, you need to know that your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username, and user ID will always be available to the public. And, if you have any apps installed, they will also have access to your friend’s list.
“My information is safe since hackers only go after the wealthy and the powerful”
Well, you know how this goes by now: WRONG! While it is true that many hackers only target the “big fish,” it is an online privacy myth that just because you are not famous, you are entirely safe from suffering a hacking attack.
For most hacking attacks to work, there need to be lots of people involved. These cybercriminals try to target as many individuals as they can, wealthy or not. No matter who you are, you are never 100% safe and protected from a hack.
Think about it this way: there have been multiple cryptocurrency exchanges hacking attacks this year, with millions of dollars worth of losses and hundreds, even thousands of people affected. Do you think all of them are rich and famous?
Hackers can access trade secrets and blackmail companies; they can cause mass infections with bots that launch DDoS attacks or hold sites for ransom, they can manipulate social media and fake likes and other interactions, and so on. The “I am out of the woods because I’m not famous or rich” narrative is an online privacy myth.
“I want privacy and encryption, so I’ll just choose any VPN provider”
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Again, wrong. While VPN technology itself is a fantastic way to stay private online, not every company that provides the service can be considered reliable or trustworthy. If you are not familiarized with VPNs, they are encryption resources that reroute user data, such as online identity, location, and shared content online, to remote servers, away from the data-collection practices of Internet Service Providers and other potentially harmful external agents.
It all sounds exciting. And the approach works! VPN technology effectively sends our content through computer-generated tunnels away from dangerous agents, such as hackers. However, some brands claim to provide the service, only to sell your data logs around the web, a massive privacy breach.
Other brands say they implement robust encryption to safeguard your content only to leave it unprotected. In general, free VPNs are not trustworthy because they need to make money to maintain the service, and they share your activity with online advertising companies and, sometimes, even with criminals, only to make a profit.
In conclusion, there are lots of misleading and wrong beliefs surrounding the data security landscape in our current reality. There are numerous online privacy myths that people need to be aware of in order to make the right adjustments.