Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Identity theft became a big deal back in the nineties. When people and companies realized the dangers, they went ape over data security features like registered mail and paper shredding. In the digital age, identity theft isn’t done by people rooting through your garbage. Hackers steal personal and company information through the Internet.
Most Internet users have a ton of personal data scattered all over the net. And they don’t even know it. When people don’t understand the risks, a lot of information is tossed around. This is just like way back when we used to just throw old letters and paid bills in the garbage. Many people still practice the shredding of important documents like financial records, billing statements, and other personally identifiable information. But today we put a lot of the same information on the Internet. People need to become more aware of digital data security practices. People have moved on from rummaging in the garbage to fishing on the Internet.
How Personal Data Gets on the Internet
We do a lot of stuff through the Internet that we used to do by mail or in person. We communicate, do bank transactions, pay bills, buy clothes, and more, all on the Net. Whatever information you need to provide to set up accounts, check bank balances, settle bills, pay retailers, etc., is all on the Internet. If that Internet traffic is not encrypted, then anyone who knows how to look can see it. And there are a lot of people who know how to look if you don’t have digital data security tools.
A simple Google search can bring up thousands of results for free tracking, scraping and logging software. These are a few of the free tools that anyone can download and use. Without digital data security, they can catch this sensitive information from your traffic stream. This includes the user names and passwords you use to get into your bank account, the credit card number you entered on a website shopping cart and basically everything you do online.
Another way your information gets spread around and copied and recopied is the data gathering practices of some companies. Aside from the NSA who we know keeps records of a lot of our communications data, there are private entities that store user data. Your ISP keeps records of your Internet activities. Websites like Google and Facebook use sophisticated tools to track your behavior on their websites. Other companies now dubbed “Data Brokers” monitor and track users to get consumer data that they can sell to marketers.
The big problem is, not only is what you’re sending out visible, but there are also potentially hundreds or thousands of copies of it. And there is no guarantee that any of these companies is going to ensure that you have digital data security as they pass it around. They’ve just made it easier for thieves to fond it, even just by chance.
Getting Digital Data Security with a VPN
We obviously can’t retrieve all the information that is already floating around on the Internet. And we certainly can’t get it back from whoever has picked it up. We also can’t just stop using the Internet for important communications and transactions. But we need to make sure that from now on we pay attention to digital data security so no one can read or piece together whatever we do continue to send through cyberspace. This was the whole idea behind the paper shredder.
Using a VPN renders your data unreadable and irretrievable. This is the highest known level of personal digital data security available. Instead of shredding your documents and other data, a VPN encrypts it. Encryption algorithms apply a code to your data that only the authorized recipient can decode. Expert hackers that are able to take bits of encrypted data see what looks to them like a shredded document. A good VPN is like a crisscross shredder. In other words, it’s nearly impossible to put the pieces back together. A good VPN encrypts your traffic, too, so people can’t see where the source of the data is. They can’t find you, so they can’t get the information from the source. A VPN is the individual user’s best defense against spying, hacking, and data mining.