Internet security changes all the time and so does the variety of issues. We have to be sure to run anti-virus, watch out for infections and phishing, and regularly change our passwords just to start the process of being safe on the Internet.
There are people that spend time to create these viruses and other hidden or unwanted system modifications.
While their motivation may not be known (usually money), one of the hazards of using the Internet is dealing with the headaches these things can cause.
On top of regular infections, there are many data gathering processes that can run in the background of your system.
These can be gathering data to send to someone attempting to steal your information. There are also websites that gather data when you visit, login, or create an account.
While there are instances where gathering data is used maliciously as I mentioned, it is also something legitimate sites can be guilty of. In 2019, you may have heard of sites like Google and Facebook gathering information, but what and how much are they gathering? What can you do about it?
Earlier this year, the International Computer Science Institute investigated Google and the Applications linked with its Playstore.
Applications downloaded from Google and the Playstore can gather data, and that can be used to create your Advertising ID. This ID is unique, but is and can be reset.
Many applications were also linking that Advertising ID with the hardware IDs of a device, such as the MAC address. This is forbidden as it allows the data to be permanently stored, even when you erase your history and erase the application data. Google is addressing the issue and already forcing some applications to change its data gathering process.
Google is also stepping up security for mobile devices in another way. Users that are familiar with Chrome and its password storing may know the browser version of Google can suggest a strong password.
This is now coming to mobile devices as well, which will sync security across all devices, prompting you to use a strong and unique password when it is determined your password is weak or frequently used.
Facebook may be the king of data harvesting. I am sure many of you have searched for something on the Internet, then noticed ads on Facebook showing that item. This is part of targeted advertising done by Facebook.
Facebook has the ability to follow you around the web, checking your browser habits and collecting user data anytime you are on a site with a Like or comment section from Facebook attached.
Mozilla Firefox introduced the Facebook Container extension for its browser last year, which keeps Facebook isolated.
While it has been out for awhile, 2.0 was just released, which blocks those sites with the Facebook links from gathering information.
Firefox is stepping up the anti-tracking to another level as well. The browser debuted its new “Enhanced Tracking Protection.” Mozilla teamed up with Disconnect, an open source anti-tracking program to create this new protection that blocks over 1,000 third party websites from gathering data while you browse the Internet.
This feature is enabled by default once the browser is updated to its newest version.
Some may not worry about their privacy online, but for those who do, it’s time to update.