What would you do if I came up to you and requested that you give me your biometric data in exchange for a few thousands of Ghanaian Cedis, and dinner? You’d promptly decline; with thoughts of identity theft running through your mind. That’s an expected reaction from a well balanced individual. In the age of surveillance, privacy should be your concern, and no, I’m not suggesting that you go off grid and live in a cave somewhere.
All I’m trying to do, is draw your attention to the gospel that data is the most valuable commodity now, and if you know what’s good for you in times such as these, privacy should be your concern.
You may think that privacy is overrated, after all, “what do I have to hide?” Well, maybe nothing, which is good for you. However, you don’t know when something you consider to be harmless would become dirt for another person to hurl at you.
Why Privacy Should Be Your Concern
You’re giving up more than you intend to
Anytime you log on to the internet, it’s like leaving the warmth of your home and being slapped in the face with the biting cold weather outside. Every thing you put online becomes the property of a lot of people you have no idea existed. They get to know about your favorite people, members of your family you don’t enjoy interacting with, and a whole lot of personal information you ordinarily would say “not your business” to; should the regular person on the street walk up to you and ask to know.
Knowing all these, you sign up to certain everyday services with the hope that they can pinky promise you — through their conscience — a guarantee that all the data about you would not get into the wrong hands. Well, perish the thought. Data is money, and money is king because money never sleeps.
Now in case you’re still not aware at this point; if you’re using the fingerprint feature of a smart device, or the Face ID, or maybe you’re a fitness enthusiast who can’t do without your smartwatch… just know that your biometric data is already in the hands of the manufacturers of those gadgets. You readily gave all that away; including information which your doctor may not even be privy to.
These are some of the personal data we sign off to tech companies and service providers without giving it a second thought. Yes, we’ve become so oblivious to privacy issues — in the age of surveillance — because of the hip culture of these times which makes certain indulgences the norm.
Even companies that protect your data do get hacked
Even if the organization genuinely goes to great lengths to protect your data within their data centres, you can’t have a total guarantee of their safety. For example, rogue current or former high level employees can end up stealing or misusing the information in various ways.
Privacy should be your concern as it’s common knowledge that Apple, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, of course, have all fallen victim to hackers in recent times.
What can you do to improve on your privacy?
Use premium versions of apps and services
Nothing is ever truly free. More often than not, you have to give up something in return for that freebie. Rather than paying with your money, you’re paying with your data.
Restrict or uninstall apps that ask for too many permissions
The other day I was surprised when my notepad app wanted to have access to my contact list. Okay, that’s a little weird. Maybe they wanted to easily be able to suggest names and numbers to me but, that’s a ‘no, thanks’ for me.
Apps that request to be granted too many permissions definitely have so much going on and if you suspect they may go ahead even after you deny their request then, you should have them uninstalled.
Use open source software
One wonderful truth about the open source software community is their willingness to stand up to corporate interference. As developers work to maintain great products that serve a large community, they also do well to stay away from corporate giants who would love to have access to all the data they can from the ‘off grid’ tech enthusiasts.
Think twice before putting things online
By now you know that nothing you put online is truly safe. The best thing to do before posting things to your cloud account is to encrypt them — especially for files containing sensitive information.
Also, be sure to use two factor authentication as well as strong passwords for your online service accounts.