More than 800 million pieces of our personal data were leaked between 2019 and 2020. Twitter stored millions of our passwords unmasked in a log, and ISPs can sell our browsing habits to third parties. With online government surveillance escalating to a horrifically intrusive high, it’s vital that we learn how to keep our personal lives private.    

Exposing your data could put you in danger 

You leave a footprint of your data everywhere you go online. Your data is a goldmine to hackers and third parties, who spy on your internet habits, the content you consume, and the people you talk to. Combine this tracking with physical surveillance measures like public facial recognition cameras in the UK or location tracking via your phone, and you start to realize how deep into your life corporations and the state can get.   

Also Read: Growing Cybersecurity Risks In 21st Century!

Here are some specific ways your data is being abused and why it’s a problem: 

ISP tracking 

Your internet service provider (ISP) monitors and can record everything you do online. They sell this data to advertisers and other third parties to target you with relevant ads online. Your ISP is also obligated to hand over your online activity, including your interests and search history, to the government and authorities if asked. 

The problem with this is that your searches or the websites you visit (which you may cast aside as simple curiosity) can be married with other pieces of information and used against you. It also fuels the relentless barrage of online ads we get on social media and other websites we visit.   

App tracking 

A lot of your apps have embedded trackers built into them. Yes, even your calculator app. Most free apps make money from selling your data to third parties, but they can also be infected with adware and spyware. 

Apps made by rogue developers may have the potential to track your location and habits and even install spyware onto your phone. This kind of data abuse is dangerous because it can go unnoticed unless you make the effort to vet the apps you download and adjust your phone’s location settings.      

Government surveillance 

With whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning verifying the depths of corruption and illegal surveillance within the government, millions of us are taking our privacy and security into our own hands. 

Most countries in the world are part of the 14-eyes alliance, which facilitates illegal surveillance of their citizens online. If a country is forbidden by national law to do so, the alliance allows them to gather data on their citizens via another country. Everything from your name to your phone number, address, physical movements (via your IP address), search history, and visited websites can be tracked by the government.      

Using a VPN could help 

It’s a sad state of affairs for anyone assuming they were entitled to privacy. This is why millions are using VPN apps to stay totally private online. 

VPNs are currently one of the most downloaded apps in the world. It works by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address, which makes your activity invisible to your ISP and other third parties. Your personal data, including your search terms, location, and visited websites will be hidden from hackers and any other nosy eavesdroppers. 

The best thing about VPNs is how easy they are to use. You can use the app on smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, and even routers to protect every device in your home. With the better-known brands offering powerful encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and instant protection and security, using a VPN really is a no-brainer. 

Also Read: A Guide To Choosing The Right VPN Services