We are all too aware of the National Security Agency breaking encryption and implanting back doors on various servers, networks and within numerous social sites, email providers, mobile networks, mobile phones and other platforms to gather intelligence in the name of safety and security for the American people and other friendly nations across the globe.
Whether you agree or not with these policies, there are numerous disadvantages to this level of spying. At this moment, we as a culture are going though a shift where we are getting accustomed to these “invasions” instead of putting our collective feet down and saying NO.
- Google: Google updated its terms of service so it can use your Google+ name, face, web reviews and social media activities in online ads to anyone for any reason, as long as Google thinks it would help sell whatever the ad is offering.
- Apple: Researchers determined Apple’s iMessages may be being read, or at least have the ability to be read, by Apple employees. This news shouldn’t surprise people too much because we’ve known for quite some time that emails can be read by employees at various email providers.
- LinkedIn Intro: This is a new service that connects your Apple iOS email to LinkedIn’s servers, which essentially routes your emails in a man-in-the-middle-type situation. While the company says it won’t access your emails, some say it can—which, really, isn’t good.
- Drones: Yes, drones—everything from small, mosquito-sized aircraft to remote-controlled airplanes—are beginning to populate the skies specifically to gather intelligence on everyone who may be up to no good or who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Webcam spying: A rent-to-own company was recently fined a substantial amount of money by the FTC because it installed software on its laptops to spy on users’ behavior. The point of the software was really to locate the devices if they were lost or stolen, but apparently someone internally couldn’t help himself.
- Free WiFi: Right now, dozens of municipalities are investing in a free WiFi they call “muniWiFi,” which stands for Municipal Wireless Network and is designed to blanket the cities and provide free wireless to anyone who wants it. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s safe; without a doubt, criminals will have a field day with free public WiFi like this, so you need to get a leg up on the bad guys. Use a VPN such as Hotspot Shield VPN to protect your data. Hotspot Shield will also protect your IP address shielding you from prying eyes.
Telling you to not worry about any of this would seem like a pretty lame way to conclude a regurgitation of just how much privacy has been lost and how companies and our government are seizing an opportunity. But frankly, as long as you consciously participate (or not participate) in a way that precludes you or your data from being unwittingly exposed, then don’t worry about it. But at least DO something about it.