Social Media and Data Privacy

Now we are all worried about data privacy we are sharing over social media despite we are doing the same activity from past couple of years. We have witnessed leakage of the information and still we are lag to take precautionary measures while using the social media or any other website on cyberworld.

In every scenario of real life or virtual life (Cyber World) we have many possibilities that someone may commit the cybercrime, rather hackers are ready to steal our data and keep track of our activities; we are always afraid of being deceived.

We should take precautionary measures for not being a victim of such things. The OEM of applications, software developers, and websites, at first share all the terms and conditions of the applications and guidelines for its usage towards personal or commercial use, but how many of us are reading those terms and conditions. Whenever we access any website we all get a message of acceptance of cookies of the website and we simple click on agree to visit the website before reading what those cookies are talking about. Cookies are useful to website but can make vulnerable the users who access the website as they can store your logins, search history and more; someone can spy your data and activities without your consent. By the acceptance of cookies you get personalized advertisements over social media and other sites and you already accept them after storing your search and access history the social media gives you the same appropriate advertisements etc.

Now if we talk about the applications, there are many applications other than WhatsApp which are storing and tracking our personal information, and for which we have already provided them the permission during installation of applications, rather even your photo editor application wants your permission to access your personalized photo gallery and locations. We cannot stop using the applications as we are need those in day to day life. For the same to perform we need to follow some protocols and read privacy policies of every website and application very well.  As per the Global Web Index March 2020 there are about 19% of the social media which have not taken action regarding protecting privacy rather 38% have reduced the personal sharing of information on social media just 31% read the terms and conditions and 11% have deleted the social media applications.

We should be very much careful while sharing any of our personal information over chats, social media video calls, photographs, passwords, bank information, allowing 3rd party apps to access your social media accounts as you may come under the attack of hackers and be victims to them, and they can easily broadcast and morph our information in pornographic sites, money transfers etc. The application/website OEMs are well aware about the security and take much more precautions and have security system, encryption, OTP accessing etc. to avoid such misfortunes to the users but they can’t eradicate it completely as every hour they get new challenging hacker attacks and new virus formations in digital form and work 24×7 for the users. So the responsibility is in hands of the users; how you will take your profiles. Some of the key points we should perform is to check your privacy protection, know who is in your friends list, what you are sharing is for private or visible to public, what sort of videos / personal photos we are sharing among status and chats? We should take review of everything and then use the application. Deleting the application is never a solution as we may need it and our businesses are running over it, but using the same with precautions is needed. We are now addicted to the social media and have left conventional meetings; we must know  that sharing information in digital form is more vulnerable to theft. Likewise, on your personal laptops and computers we have various Internet security anti-virus softwares available for PDAs, iPads, tablets and mobile phones which can act as 3rd party to guide and protect you from accessing vulnerable websites and applications and provide information about securing your personal data.

Not only the WhatsApp, which is currently in news headlines, Google, Twitter, all kinds of online platforms, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and many more – all have access to highly sensitive private data, which is stored on their servers and could be stolen anytime.

Choice is always ours, as when information gets posted online, it is no longer private, and may end up falling into wrong hands and can end up leaking personal information. Your online data is as important as your passport, ID card and your confidential medical record. So Basic education about the usage of internet, social media platform’s is a must as even hackers have destroyed even data and privacy of various celebrities on which there is more tracking and authenticity, so what about the common users? At the end, you can’t blame the company as already you have given them permission to store your data on their servers and have given permission to access several of the modules of your phone information like accessing location, gallery, files and even camera during the first installation of applications and software. Read Terms and Conditions very well to have your personal conditions healthy over cyber world.

Government of India have already issued various advisories to public for using social media. If you are a victim don’t feel stressed, don’t  waste time to get information more circulated; rather immediately report to country cybercrime portal and they will be punished under data protection laws.

Khalid Mustafa is IT & Management Expert, presently IT-Ops Manager at HK Nissan