Online privacy is something we all strive for, but that keeps eluding us. No matter how many precautions we have in place, the reality is that the moment you put information online, it becomes public and is accessible by anyone with some know-how. Individuals can use data scraping, taking screenshots and hacking to ensure they capture your information. So, is privacy only an illusion?
In this article, we’ll explore online privacy and how it becomes public information once you place something online. We’ll also briefly touch on some of the measures that can help to improve your anonymity. One is to buy an HTTP proxy or use a VPN alongside other measures. Finally, we’ll also discuss device fingerprinting and its effects on your privacy.
The topics we’ll be covering on privacy will include:
- What is online privacy about?
- Why isn’t it possible to be truly private online?
- What is device fingerprinting, and what’s its effect on privacy?
- What data makes up a device fingerprint?
- How does device fingerprinting work?
What Is Online Privacy About?
Online privacy can be described as the level of privacy an individual has when accessing the internet. While it may seem like you’re all alone, the reality is that millions of people access the internet every minute. More precisely, 5.9 million Google searches happen every minute, and 44 million people view Facebook live streams every minute. We feel protected behind our screens when, in reality, we’ve never been more exposed.
A Few Ways To Protect Online Anonymity
Don’t worry; we’re not suggesting that you go off the grid. Despite the potential risks associated, it is possible to browse the internet safely. However, it requires a bit of a mind switch. Internet users must be aware of what information they share online, who has access to it, and what it’s used for. Using a multifaceted approach is the best when it comes to your online privacy.
Here are a few measures you can implement to protect your online privacy:
Buy A HTTP Proxy
When you buy an HTTP proxy, you not only get IP protection by hiding your IP behind one from the proxy pool but also other benefits. After you buy an HTTP proxy and start using it, it also acts as a content filter that protects you from harmful malware and unsafe sites.
Use A VPN
A VPN is another helpful tool that hides your IP address and encrypts your online data so that users with access cannot see it.
Use Strong Passwords And Two Factor Authentication
Always make sure that you use a randomly generated password that consists of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols within your password.
Always be aware of what information you share online, and never share anything personal or anything that can be used against you – such as photos or videos.
Check All Privacy Settings And Permissions
Check the privacy settings on your browsers and any social media platforms and ensure they’re all set to ‘Private.’ Also, check the permission of all apps you use and check what they have access to and restrict access where necessary.
Why Isn’t It Possible To Be Truly Private Online?
With the advances in technology, staying private online is becoming even more challenging. With data scraping tools, screenshot capabilities, device fingerprinting, website and app tracking, it’s nearly impossible to stay completely private online. If you mistakenly share an image online, even if you remove it minutes later, the chances are that someone might already have shared it or taken a screenshot – and once that happens, you have very little control over where the image ends up or what’s done with it. The same applies to any other data you share; images, texts, videos, and personal and financial details.
The browser you use, the apps you install, and the social media sites you visit all contain much of your information. By scraping this or collecting the data to create a digital fingerprint, others can track you even if you make one change, such as changing your IP address. This is why a multifaceted approach to protecting your privacy is so critical.
What Is Device Fingerprinting, And What’s Its Effect On Privacy?
Device fingerprinting is a relatively new method of tracking users. It’s a process used to identify a device or browser based on specific features or characteristics unique to that device. Every user online has particulars specific to that user. In device fingerprinting, they compile these particulars to get a clear user image and track them online. In some ways, they’re similar to cookies. However, cookies can be blocked, whereas device fingerprinting cannot. Also, cookies are stored on the users’ end and can be removed by the user. Alternatively, device fingerprints are stored server-side in a database.
What Data Makes Up A Device Fingerprint?
Device fingerprinting relies on combining various data points to create an overall profile of the user. Much of this information is shared whenever we make a request online, without us even being aware. The information that’s collected to create a device fingerprint includes:
- IP address
- HTTP request headers
- User-agent string
- Installed plugins or extensions
- Client time zone
- Information about the client’s device, such as screen resolution, touch support, operating system and language
- List of installed fonts
- Silverlight data
- List of mime-types
How Does Device Fingerprinting Work?
There is no such thing as privacy online. We’ve seen this multiple times with the amount of social media platforms and apps that sneakily collect our data without our knowledge. However, despite these risks, some measures can be implemented to limit the amount of information collected and hide vital information so that trackers can’t clearly identify the user.