The other day, while on public commute, I’ve overhead two elderly women who are quite tech savvy talking about social networking sites. The other woman was inviting the other woman to add her on facebook, but the other woman said that she does not have any facebook account, because she values her privacy. She told the other woman that she only uses Twitter, which she feels can protect her privacy more than Facebook.
Would you think that the woman using Twitter is better protected than the one using Facebook? I don’t think so. The mere fact that she is using an online tool, she is not protected. She may be using other social networking sites, or she could have her email address scattered everywhere, or she may be using online banking. Who knows?
I have read a survey the other day which says that majority of users do not understand online privacy threats or know how to protect sensitive information.
But before I would proceed further, we have to define privacy first. Suffice it to say that privacy is subjective and that there are probably as many variations on defining privacy as there are people now using the Internet. However, no matter what privacy is to a specific person, a person needs to protect it while that person is online.
The survey that I had read showed that people now are increasingly aware that online privacy can be violated. In fact, in one of that article, 85% of people are aware that they are being profiled as they surfed the net and that 85% are aware that cybercriminals could be stalking them without their knowledge.
The most concerning information on that survey though is that 75% of people believe that their privacy is protected by using a firewall and more than 60% believe that an anti-virus software will guard their identity.
The only fact that I can share is online identity theft is much more common that we think and consumers are inundated with conflicting information about what they need to do to protect themselves as they use the Internet. Consumers need to realize that the steps they take to protect their computer system are not the same measures they need to safeguard their privacy and identity when they are online. Firewalls and anti-virus software is not one of it, for they are designed to protect the PC, not the user.
The cause for concern though is the false security induced by the belief that these solutions are sufficient in and of themselves. Users who believe firewalls and anti virus software will protect their privacy are less likely to take responsibility or exercise discretion when it comes to other means of guarding it.
The reality is that privacy breaches and identity theft are results of social engineering and phishing scams. Security tools and applications can help, but the best protection when it comes to privacy and guarding against identity theft is user education and a healthy dose of cautious skepticism while on the Internet.
Now that I have said enough, admittedly, even advanced or experts in IT security sometimes commit lapses on these. Yes, IT security experts are human too, and sometimes, they over commit themselves in exposing their identities on famous social networking sites.
Which leaves us with this question, do you think you are protected enough? Only you can answer this question.