Nowadays, gold and oil tend to be old news – if you want to mine something precious, try with data. Companies mine data and analyze it to get a better understanding of our preferences and behavior. They consequently use that information to improve their business models and cater to our needs.
How Can It Affect You?
Even though data mining has its fair share of bright sides, wrong information in the wrong hands can lead to quite a few security issues. Hence, protecting your online privacy is of utmost importance. Besides invading your privacy, mined data can easily leak and end up being sold on the black market. From there, hackers can use it for various malicious purposes, including tax evasion, opening bank accounts, and committing multiple crimes in your name.
Furthermore, data mining can quickly become a ground for discrimination. For example, DNA testing services leaked their customers’ sensitive medical data and shared it with third parties on a few occasions. Customers were getting concerned since revealing sensitive information about their health can potentially lead to discrimination over certain health conditions and other ethical concerns.
Also, information about your last online shopping spree or your new hobby can turn you into an excellent target for aggressive marketing. Getting your inbox swamped with promotional emails every day can be daunting, and it can also cause you to miss some more critical messages.
How To Stay Protected
Even though there isn’t a way of controlling what information your app providers store and for how long, you can always set up your settings in a way that’s going to give them as little as possible. Also, make sure to read privacy policies before installing an app and familiarize yourself with their privacy principles.
2. Consider using a VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are easy-to-use solutions for those who want an added level of privacy in their online lives. A VPN can swap your actual IP address for a virtual one and make it look like you’re on a completely different location. Most VPN service providers have options that’ll cover all your devices at once.
Switch to privacy tools
Every cybersecurity story with a happy ending has encryption as the leading role. Alongside ciphering your data in traffic with a VPN and encrypting data stored on your devices, there are other ways to give your security framework a boost. For instance, if you want to prevent eavesdroppers from glancing over your messages, switch to encrypted messengers. Encrypted apps like Signal or Threema use end-to-end encryption to cipher your conversations and keep them private between you and your contacts.
Data mining may be a double-edged sword when it comes to privacy, but a good rule of thumb is to reveal as little about yourself as possible. Sharing your physical address may not seem like something important; but, if you consider that the internet has a memory of an elephant, you can never know who can stumble upon your personal data ten years from now and use it against you. Thus, be cautious of who you’re entrusting your personal data with, and consider switching to more secure apps and tools whenever possible.