10 Ways You Didn’t Realize You Were Leaving Electronic Tracks
I hate to break it to you, but the term “privacy” died a long time ago.
Although there exist numerous efforts to re-introduce our sense of security through the so-called “privacy settings”—it still can’t undo our electronic past.
For starters, you might be one of the ‘fans’ who caroused at the chance to get more personal with their favorite celebrities via the sensational hack called the “Fappening,” but that took a 360 degree turn on the whole thing as the “Snappening”—which leaked over 200,000 unadulterated photos of teenagers—broke out.
And need I remind you of Edward Snowden’s confession on the NSA’s illegal public surveillance? It’s shocking, right?
The zeitgeist is simply: when will we be the next targets of this uncontrollable espionage? Or, are we even sure that we’re not already under some kind of surveillance?
But fear not.
You only need to know where to look to start warding off the common scenarios where you can be tracked.
Here are the 10 ways you didn’t realize you were leaving digital footprints all over the Internet.
1. IP Address—Unless you are under a digital cloaking or a dynamic network proxy, your IP address (which is unique for everybody) is public record on all the website domains you visit. A simple Google search for a “trace my IP” service can quickly pinpoint your physical address.
2. Username and Aliases—While your passwords remain to be private, your usernames and aliases are visible to the public eye. As most people use the same name and aliases interchangeably across various social media platforms, discussion forums, and blogs; forming a connection between them is easy. One search for a unique alias can bring back all its affiliated websites along with details we did not intend to get included.
3. Social Media—Simple social media tags and captions like “who were you with,” “where was this picture taken,” and “what are you feeling” can serve as means to track down your activities and behavioral patterns. In fact, the FBI uses Facebook to fight crime by creating fake accounts to monitor and capture suspects
4. Mobile Phone Transmissions—All communications done over the radio can be hijacked or tapped. As long as your phones are not encrypted, what you say and what you type can be reviewed and used to triangulate your exact location given that you’re within the range of at least three cell phone tower.
5. Online Purchases—If you enjoy shopping hassle-free online, then consider having a separate delivery address that is not your home address, ASAP. Directly providing your address is not a good idea because you’re making your address known together with your personal information in the cyberspace. And you know how the saying goes, “what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.”
6. Public Transit Cards—Most cities rely on some form of a passenger payment card to conveniently keep track of their fares by using unique data strips and serial numbers. This means that when a frequent passenger recharges his dollar balance via a credit card, his full name and credit info is automatically timestamped in the transit record database. And guess what? It’s not the best place to have your credentials on.
7. “Freebies”—Who doesn’t want free stuff? Whether it’s a free e-book, a free trial account, or a legit take or leave it money-back guaranteed software—it’s not free at all. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t read the ridiculously condensed terms and condition pages, but you can find there that they have the authority to collect data on your usage of their products. Not to mention the malware that comes with them.
8. Email replies—As a rule of thumb, don’t talk to strangers. It is better to ignore and delete emails from unknown contacts as soon as you’ve spotted one than try to think the other way. There are only two things that can occur once you opened or replied to an anonymous email. It’s either you turn your computer to a cesspool of viruses, or you reveal personal details when you respond thru the digital receipts that are present in all email exchanges.
9. Cookies—Practically unavoidable, cookies works as a smart tracker of your preferences and tendencies as a possible prospect. As you scour the Internet and clicked on particular items over last weekend, you’ll likely see the same kind of ads somewhere in your favorite blogs and social media accounts. It’s not magic though, it’s only website leaving trails of cookies to determine what items and products you desire the most.
10. Online Raffles—Sure, online raffles can get us quickly into the mood of participating because unlike the traditional sweepstakes, it costs us nothing. The only catch is that you have to answer surveys and fill in your details, which you won’t normally have to do under normal terms. If you haven’t caught on yet, these are what you call online scams that aim to get a hold of your money.
These are the top 10 Ways You Didn’t Realize You Were Leaving Electronic Tracks.
While it’s true that there’s a multitude of ways to deal with this reality of security breaches, ultimately, we won’t be able resist that which we’re unaware of.