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BW Businessworld

How Private Is Your Privacy

While the administrators and policy makers rally around to get the giants to behave, the following are the simple start points to protect self:

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For a few years now, there has been a considerable outrage over facebook, google and some big players accessing our data. It has become a bit of a regular news getting the likes of Mark Zuckerberg to testify, re-assure the policy makers on the measures they would take to limit data breaches.

The debate about the infamous Cambridge Analytica and how it ‘influenced” Trump 2016 Presidential Campaign or Brexit and the epic struggle of Carole Cadwalladr, Chistopher Wylie, Brittany Kaiser in exposing the above company is well documented. 

This piece is neither about Cambridge Analytica nor about any desi political analysts and their exploits in influencing the polls. 

It is about us.

How many of us know how much of our life is in public domain and how many of us willingly share the same? How many of us actually read the privacy policy while downloading an app and giving our consent? We live in a world where a ticket booking app asks us access to our phone book and storage on our phones.

An e-com app asks us access of our phone book, storage and wants us to use it’s wallet for payments.

OTT apps asks access to camera, contacts, location, storage

Messaging app asks access to camera, storage, contacts

Banking App asks access to location, contacts, Messaging, Media, Contacts, Storage

Dating App asks access to contacts and storage.

Add to these, the other access you grant to the operating platform… broadly android or iOs.

What it all means is…

To be fair to them, they might not be reading any other information other than what is relevant to them, but consider this. 

Unless relevant measures are taken, all our data is out there for everyone to access. 

It is akin living in a home with glass walls and are hoping that no one would look at us or our things.

It doesn’t exactly help that if one or more of the three things: 

  1. UIDAI (Aadhar if it helps)
  2. Mail id
  3. Mobile number

Are compromised, one stands the risk of serious exposure. 

If one is not careful and doesn’t cut the access of these apps to sensitive and personal information, one is openly giving easy access to every sensitive data needed to any and every half-hacker out there.

Just to illustrate, a few risks one stands to face if one hacks into an app that has unrestricted access:

SIM Swap and Identity theft:

In this the hacker(s) access your pictures, videos. Use your mail id to request for a change in the “strong password” (and for your sake I hope it is a different for your e-banking, mail and app sign-in. Sign-in as you. SIM-Swap to ensure any OTPs on your mobile start going to them. Take away your life’s savings. 

Mail, Social media identity theft

In this your mail and/or social media pages are “taken over” to access your bank, credit card data leading to fraud transactions. If social pages are hacked, the hackers might post objectionable and sensitive content as you, leading to embarrassment and if unchecked, legal repercussions.

IoT and Connect Vehicles take over

Once the hackers access the mobile phones, it is rather easy for them to send commands that can enable them to break-in to your secure homes or vehicles. Several instances of hackers taking over the control of connected cars raised concerns over the safety in US but the start point of it all is un protected access to the data.

So what can one do to insulate oneself?

While the administrators and policy makers rally around to get the giants to behave, the following are the simple start points to protect self:

  1. Use stronger passwords and constantly change them
  2. Have different passwords for each app, mail or bank accounts
  3. Other than the primary mail id, sign-in to other mails only when needed
  4. Manage Social media and app settings. 
  5. Social media handles are best accessed on web rather than their app versions. Saves battery and space. More importantly, avoids constant access to your data
  6. It’s a good idea to start with a strong encryption password as well as a virtual private network. A VPN will encrypt all traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination
  7. It is said that one can never actually delete any picture from the mobile phone. So be very sure of what picture is taken and/or sent. Sensitive pictures or videos can easily be accessed, shared and privacy compromised. May be a good idea to take the personal pictures using a good camera and printed like in the past.
  8. Keep your location off unless needed. Be sure how many of the multiple sets of apps and people accessing your location and check-ins have to know where you go

Build a wall around the data hackers and the new age thieves. Improve your privacy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Satyanarayana Murthy YVS

Armed with Engineering, Business Management academic background and an alumnus of IIM-B, he has had the good fortune of working across varied roles starting from Manufacturing, Sales, Channel Management, Distribution, Brand, Marketing and PR, Business Strategy and Business Management across diverse sectors from Engineering, Oil & Gas and Media. Currently, he consults a few Start Ups and MSMEs besides working on an Analytics Media Tech and Luxury & Lifestyle Market place start up

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