By Andy Marken
The Internet – the network of networks – was formed in the early '50s to enable people to share information – initially scientists, engineers and then it was opened to commercial use and regular people who wanted to share.
The Facebook, Twitter and the social media scenes came into being so people could share their information and amass followers in their communities.
Along the way, things sorta' got out of hand.
Followers became stalkers, stalkers became trackers and a few of the stalkers/trackers became hackers.
It was okay when there were only a few thousand dedicated folks, but then it became 100K, 100M and now several billion.
Getting Social – Give a person a connection and suddenly they want to be social with folks around the block, around the world. The great thing is they're using any connected device they have – computer, laptop, smartphone – communicating words, photos, videos and it will only grow more.
That's when Oda Mae said, "Ah, shut up, nobody's talking to you."
But trust me, I've looked at your Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other profiles (maybe not yours specifically, but enough of 'em) and they aren't that interesting.
Face it, people put the dumbest things online like no one will notice:
- Folks put their extramarital affairs online
- Criminals post their latest "successes" online
- People gossip about work and classmates online
We share so much that a Pew Research study found we overshare.
• 66% of internet users said a photo of them was online
• 50% said their birth date was available
• 46% said their email address was available online
• 44% said their employer name was online
• 38% said bylined pieces were online
• 30% said their home address was online
• 29% said their groups and organizations are online.
• 24% said their cell phone number was available
• 21% said a video of them was online
• 21% said their home phone number was online
• 20% listed their political party or affiliation
The most common answer though was, "Ah-h, I dunno."
Protect My Stuff ... But – Worldwide, if you ask people what they really want with their online presence, they'll say they want privacy. Unfortunately, they share way too much and it's there for anyone/everyone to see (and use) ... good guys and bad guys.
We've shared so much that now we'd like to have our privacy back.
Oda Mae looked at the situation and said, "He's stuck, that's what it is. He's in between worlds."
In the U.S., some are demanding their constitutional right to privacy back (BTW, privacy isn't in the Constitution).
True, it's also not in the Constitution that the government has the right to read/listen to everything you write/say; but that's another story.
Pew Research recently reported that 59 percent of the respondents said they should be able to use the Internet anonymously. Internet users reported:
- 18 percent say they use the Internet in a way that hides/masks their identity
- 81 percent obscure at least one or more of their online activities
- 86 percent have tried to be anonymous online to avoid being followed/tracked
- 14 percent have taken steps to encrypt their email
- 14 percent use VPNs (virtual private networks) or proxy servers
Rather than wringing your hands and demanding that the government (and sites) make you less visible online, there are a lot of steps you can take.
Run Silent, Run Deep – After a while, even fame, fortune and visibility become boring and people take moves to become less visible online. Many try so hard they use 2-4 of the strategies.
While anonymity sounds sorta', kinda' good, what about:
- Cyberbullying that has claimed the lives of men, women, children?
- The snarky, even vicious, comments that flood the iNet following an article?
- An idiot makes a stupid comment during an interview or post or Tweet?
- The really bad party photos you so proudly posted/shared with folks?
I don't care what you say, anonymity in these instances is just plain criminal, wrong, stupid!
Or as Oda Mae said, "If you didn't have an attitude, you would not have raised your voice at me."
Those who are serious about keeping their identity under their control generally use a number of the tactics.
Not You – There are obvious people most online users like to avoid such as hackers and criminals. Most people don't think much about government/law enforcement snooping because there are other people out there you want to avoid ... really!
Most people routinely clear their cookie/ browser history, disable cookies, quickly leave websites that ask for their name/contact information and increasingly encrypt their email (this really "irritates" government peek-a-boo agencies).
While people are concerned about protecting their personal information and behavior online, the CCIA (Computer and Communications Industry Association) found people were far more concerned about being hacked.
Bad Guys – Hacking/cybercrime has become big business very quickly and it's very profitable. Poor privacy/security practices make people's data/information especially vulnerable. There is less concern about targeted advertising because often there are favorable considerations for you.
And you should be because according to Kaspersky Labs (anti-virus vendor) and Malwarebytes (anti-malware provider), hacking, hijacking and cybercrime are multi-billion dollar businesses that are growing in leaps and bounds and becoming more complex.
Bad folks literally lease out thousands of infected computers – or jump on the back of yours - that have been updated with the latest vulnerabilities to empty bank accounts or take valuable personal/business information.
One of Kaspersky's executives grimly said, "All of us are potential targets of cybercriminals. If you own a device connected to the Internet, you're a target."
Credit cards, user names, passwords have dollar signs printed all over them for those up to no good; and most of the time, the crime goes undiscovered or unreported. Many financial institutions would rather write it off as a cost of doing business rather than damage their reputation as a safe, secure organization.
True, when Target loses card data for more than 40M people and TJMaxx loses it for more than 90M customers, it's a little tough to sweep under the rug; but they're the exceptions rather than the rule.
Most hackers, cybercriminals think smaller and dream big.
The CCIA found that consumers were so concerned that:
- 83 percent said they put passwords on their devices
- 76 percent said they use different passwords for each service
- 68 percent have adjusted their privacy settings on a social network or online account
- 65 percent said they have set their browser to disable cookies
- 65 percent said they read the privacy policies for websites they visit (honest!)
Oh, and BTW, most of your passwords suck.
Oda Mae didn't like the way I told you that and said, "You can't just blurt it out like that!"
According to Adobe's annual security report, some of the most common passwords are:
While you're on your own here, Molly had someone looking out for her.
But eventually, we all have to stand on our own; which is why Sam said, "its amazing Molly. The love inside, you take it with you. See ya."