The widespread use of the Internet has inevitably led to intense debates about the issue of user privacy. There are individuals who spend all their waking hours on the Internet, divulging information and performing tasks that are easily accessible by millions of strangers from all around the world.
With this vast sea of information out in the public domain, it was only a matter of time before malicious parties started attacking and misusing this information, and this has led to a public outcry against the distribution of such information.
There are several privacy issues which are plaguing the Internet today, and most of these stem from the basic fact that most people do not know what kind of information they should and should not post on the Internet. The first piece of advice that any Internet user should remember is to not put any information out there that you do not want someone else to see.
You should accept the fact that anything that is on the Internet can be accessed by someone, one way or another, so nothing is totally secure. People who carry out financial transactions online need to post their details and information online, but they should also be aware that anything can happen anytime. So always be prepared for the worst.
There will come a time when advertisers will know everything about you so that they can send you a highly personalized advertisement, and who is to say that this is not a violation of one's privacy? The only way to avoid this is to regulate the information that you actually choose to share and express over the Internet.
In Phishing, usually a web page which looks similar or exactly same as the one requested by the user is sent to their browser. Then the user enters login credentials, like username and password on this webpage to which the hacker has complete access.
In Pharming, the user gets redirected to a totally different webpage from the one requested. This fraudulent web page then starts fetching critical information like login credentials, sites visited, etc.
There are several other platforms over which such hackers can operate, and the only person who will suffer is the individual whose information has been hacked into. Unfortunately, there is no way around this, since many people do perform financial transactions over the Internet. The only thing one can really do is pay and pray that one does not experience such a calamity.
For those of you to whom Dark web is something new, we will provide an explanation about the same. Dark web basically deals with things that are mostly illegal. There are several websites out there, which are into gambling, selling and buying drugs and weapons, abuse, illegitimate pornography, hiring a hit-man and plenty of other illegal stuff which might be inappropriate for a large number of internet users. Users visiting websites on the Dark web are critically prone towards being attacked by a hacker. Hence such websites should be avoided.
This issue becomes even more serious because some websites store cookies on one's browser without their permission. This is considered a grave offense, because the information provided in these cookies leads to the activation of malware, spyware, unwanted advertisements, and other spam. A cookie itself does not cause any harm, but the information that a cookie carried on the hard drive of a machine can be severely misused by many malicious parties.
Malware and Spyware are also huge threats to privacy because these are programs that sneak into the machine of an individual through the Internet, and then relay back information to another location from time to time. This eventually leads to data theft, illegal data distribution, and monetization of personal information of Internet users.
There are still no detailed laws that govern this realm. This is simply appalling, to say the least, since there are so many millions of people who are constantly online now through advanced smart-phones and tablets. The chances of someone's privacy getting violated over the Internet are at their highest right now, and we are eagerly awaiting a day when some stringent laws and tracking systems are enforced so that the people who break these laws are dealt with, in the harshest way possible.
- Always ensure that you use the format https://(name of the website) in the address bar of your browser. For example, https://www.buzzle.com
- Ensure that you make payments using your credit and debit cards only to the sources you are certain about.
- Use passwords that are difficult to predict and have a combination of capital and small alphabets, numbers as well as special characters.
- Do not use passwords that are easy to predict, such as names of family members, relatives or pets. Avoid using phone numbers or birth dates in your password. Such information can be easily found out through Social Engineering.
- Do not share critical information like username, password, credit / debit card number, PIN, etc over the phone to anybody under any circumstances. Visit the bank if necessary to make changes in your account.
- Do not share the one time password that you get on your phone with anybody under any circumstances.
- Use secure modes of payment such as PayPal for making online purchases, especially from vendors overseas.
- If you are redirected to a web page different from the one you requested, immediately close your browser and clear the browser history and cookies.
- Learn to keep certain things private and use the social media judiciously.
- Avoid using the Dark web and clicking on links which have suffixes like .onion
- Do not click on the emails or links on websites that look suspicious to you. Be careful while going through the emails in the spam/junk folder of your mailbox. Click on them only if you are sure that it isn't spam and has been sent from a relevant source.