In today’s era, we cannot live without our smartphones, laptops, and other such devices. From keeping in touch with our families to shopping online, our dependency on them have increased manifolds. While going online offers us a lot of great things, it might also get us into trouble. There are many online criminals waiting out there to take advantage of you, steal your personal information, or harass you.
A lot of cases of cyber-crime and cyber-bullying get registered every year. The crimes happen because it has become pretty difficult for the users to ensure that their personal information is secure online. There are many social networks and apps which collect our data in various forms. Let us take a look at how we keep sharing information online on day-to-day basis.
Information we share online
- Personal data and Posts
We share personal data while we sign up on apps like Facebook, Instagram, and various others. The personal data that we share with them are like name, email, contact number, address, etc. We also share information with various apps in the form of posts that we do on them or the messages that we exchange online.
- Hardware and Software Info
While we work on such apps, the information regarding the computer or devices from which we operate those apps and services also goes online. Details such as the OS level details to ISP, IP and browser information to GPS location all is collected by the social networks and apps.
- Payment details
Online shopping has become a great trend now. Whenever we do some online shopping, we ought to share our credit or debit card information online.
- Information from outside the network
Many times, there are also the third party companies which let you to like and share using your social network account, and thus, you give them the access to collect your personal information.
Now, let us see what all data specific data is collected by some popular social networks and apps.
Popular Social Networks and Info collected by them
- Facebook – From personal data and posts to information from outside the network, Facebook uses all the forms of data and uses it to show us the relatable advertisements, for its own research, sends it outside network too, and mostly uses our information within the network.
There have been several popular cases of Facebook’s data breach: More than 540 million records of Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service. It was registered as one of the major data breaches for the world’s biggest social network.
In one case, in the year 2016, a Facebook bug leaked the private contact information of 6M users in 2016. In fact, in the year 2018, FB acknowledged that it had been collecting call and text history of android users without their permission.
- Twitter – Twitter collects personal data and posts, hardware and software information, and information from outside the network. It gathers all the information to conduct its research, for advertisements, using information within the network, and sending it outside of the network.
Talking about Twitter’s breach case, in the year 2016, password for 32 Million users was hacked and leaked. In 2017, there were several cases of high-profile Twitter accounts that were compromised.
- Pinterest – Pinterest gathers the same set of information for the same set of reasons as Twitter does. In the year 2013, Pinterest suffered a breach after their customer service provider called Zendesk got hacked. There have also been many cases of account hacking related to Pinterest in the recent past.
- Google – Same as Twitter and Pinterest, Google gathers the defined set of information for the defined set of reasons. In 2015, Google had accidentally leaked WHOIS data of 280k customers. In the same year, Google’s Freak attack left millions of users vulnerable to hackers.
- Linkedin – Linkedin collects personal data and posts, hardware and software information, and information from outside the network to use all the information for using it within the network or for the displaying the relatable advertisements.
In 2012, more than 6M LinkedIn passwords were stolen in the year. In yet another data breach case, the details of 117 M LinkedIn users were put on sale in the year 2016.
- Tumblr – Tumblr collects all the information – personal data and posts, hardware and software information, payment information, and information from outside the networks. Using this information, Tumblr display advertisements, uses all information within the network, or sends it outside of the network.
In the case of data breach, 65 M Tumblr users had their details compromised in 2013.
- Whatsapp – Whtsapp collects information related to personal data and posts, hardware and software information, and payment details. All this information is used within the networks, advertisements, research, investigation, or to send all the information outside the network.
Recently, in May 2019, a security breach had allowed sophisticated attackers to install malicious software into the phones of various people via its app.
- Instagram – Same as Whatsapp, Instagram collect the defined set of information for the defined set of reasons. In data breach case of instagram, 4.6 million usernames and numbers were leaked and published on a public site by hackers.
While these facts are correct, we can take some safety measures to maintain having a healthy online presence.
Tips to be safe
- Ensure the safety of your password by not sharing it with anyone and giving it a proper length. Do not keep the same password for all your social accounts.
- Use extra security features like the login verification, especially for your email accounts.
- Keep your computer safe from viruses. Install and run anti-virus software on your computer.
- Make settings such that it asks your email and phone number to request a reset password link or code.
- Make sure to log out if you access your social accounts on other computer. However, try to sign in only using the trusted devices.
- Secure your browsing habits and beware of the third-party apps and websites.
- Explore options and choose who can see your activity feed.
- Block installations from unknown sources.