In today’s technology rich world, there are many opportunities to access others’ data you shouldn’t necessarily be able to see. Personal facts like interests, gender, jobs and sexual orientation can all be discovered fairly easily and then sold to those who care to know. Even information which is supposedly more secure, like banking and medical information, can be accessed, though that is much more difficult.
Unfortunately, many people are not necessarily aware of the personal privacy violations directed at them every day. Have you logged onto Facebook recently? Maybe you clicked on an ad which looked interesting. Well, each time you do that, there are companies that track this information and sell it to advertisers who can target you specifically. That’s right, they can tailor their websites’ advertisements specifically to your tastes. I don’t know about you, but this is a little creepy to me.
But so what? Big deal, right? Well actually, it is. This is only part of what can be done.
It is possible to hack someone’s Facebook account and steal their password by simply being on the same Wi-Fi connection, as well as through other websites which are not encrypted.
Would you want some stranger to be able to go through your profile and post things as you? Nobody would, but the real danger lies with posting malware links as you, causing your friends to get infected.
Now that I have your attention (I hope), let me tell you some ways to be more secure.
First and foremost, use your common sense. If you see something suspicious, be suspicious about it. Don’t blindly click on every link your friend posts on their Facebook wall. At least take a look at it first. Adobe Flash Player is a huge vulnerability for more malicious activities. I recommend blocking it if you can. Restricting cookie access is another way to help keep your computer a bit more private. All you have to do is disable cookies in your browser.
A little bit of statistics about operating systems can help here as well. If you are running Windows (of any kind), then you are a constant target because Microsoft Windows has by far the highest market share and it is a standard target.
I am hoping Cal Poly students and staff can be a little more aware about online privacy. Nowadays, everyone is always on Facebook and with its track record on privacy, I don’t trust anything.
David Dynes is a computer engineering freshman and the Mustang Daily technology columnist.