The Myth of Digital Privacy Online

The internet is great at luring us into a false sense of privacy. Many people think that their information is safe online. However, the reality is that anything you post can be scraped or breached. If you have a blog or website, businesses can use scraping tools to collect the information without any legal repercussions in the collection process. Even if you think the things you post are protected behind secure logins on social media, these accounts can be breached, leaving your data open for anyone to see.In this article, we take a closer look at online privacy, why it’s a myth, and whether there’s anything you can do to protect yourself. We’ll be discussing protections such as using proxies and private browsers, among other solutions. You can learn more about the benefits of a US proxy here.

Digital Privacy

Is Anything Private Online?             

The short answer is no; the longer answer becomes a bit more complex. While the reality is that many businesses and even governments are doing their best to protect internet users’ privacy rights, there are still too many issues that prevent us from being truly private online.

Regulations such as GDPR and other similar legislation are working to improve privacy online by placing rules and guidelines in place to ensure business that requires a user’s information protects it. Under these regulations, businesses can even be fined if a breach occurs and it turns out they didn’t implement all the necessary protection measures.

However, there are still many unsavory practices taking place online that risk any user’s online privacy. Data scraping is a great way for businesses to collect data that they can use for market research, customer sentiment analysis, and more. While it’s legal to collect public data, there are some businesses that also scrape personal data, such as information from social media. While this falls into a gray area and is definitely not recommended, it’s still something that happens either due to businesses not knowing it’s unethical or not caring.

Breaches are another major problem that affects users’ privacy. Sometimes breaches occur accidentally, but other times they are part of a carefully devised plan by cyber criminals. Cybercriminals will try to steal data from companies to exploit in further attacks or to sell on the dark web.

While there are ways to protect yourself, such as using aUS proxy or VPN to change your IP address, this isn’t as effective as it used to be. Using a proxy is still one of the best ways to protect your privacy online. However, new tracking processes, such as device fingerprinting, mean that users need to take a multi-faceted approach to keep their data private.

What is Device Fingerprinting?

People have started to wise up to some of the more common online tracking techniques used. Cookies and tracking beacons are being blocked, IPs are being hidden, and privacy tools and ad-blockers are becoming more popular. This means new tracking methods need to be developed, which is where device fingerprinting comes in.

Device fingerprinting is a new and much more effective way to track users online. Instead of relying on a single element, such as an IP, to track users, device fingerprinting collects a wide range of information to form a unique ID of the user, which can then be tracked.

A device fingerprint can be made up of the following information:

  • IP address
  • HTTP address headers
  • User-agent string
  • Installed plugins
  • Time zone
  • Device information such as operating system, screen resolution, language and touch support
  • Flash data
  • Installed fonts
  • Silverlight data
  • Mime-types
  • Timestamps

What Can You Do to Improve Online Privacy?

Digital Privacy Online

Unlike other methods of tracking, device fingerprinting can be used even when a user hides their IP or uses a user-agent switcher. The reason for this is that even with that information hidden, the fingerprint still has other information that can be used to identify a user. Similar to how a partial fingerprint at a crime scene can be used to convict a criminal even though it’s incomplete.

Use Proxies

A US proxy is still one of the most effective ways to protect your privacy online, especially when you pair it with additional protection measures. A proxy hides your IP and replaces it with a different one from the provider’s pool. Using a proxy even protects your browsing history from your ISP.

Use Private Browsers

Many browsers now offer incognito or dark modes in which they claim they don’t track users. However, in many cases, a record of your browsing history is still available, even if it’s not visible. However, there are a few truly private browsers, such as Tor, that don’t track users.

Switch Browsers Frequently

Switching browsers is another great solution, as it makes tracking difficult. Switch between different browsers every new day, and between rotations, make sure to clear your browsing history, cache, and any collected cookies.

Use Privacy Add-Ons

There are also a number of privacy add-ons and browser extensions you can use to further protect your browsing. These include extensions to change your user-agent or HTTP headers, extensions that block ads, and even ones that identify and block trackers. 

Final Thoughts

The reality is that there’s no privacy online, and we shouldn’t just expect it. As responsible internet users, we should take out privacy into our own hands and implement different strategies to protect our privacy. These measures can include using a US proxy or private browser and installing privacy add-ons to provide the most protection possible. Since no protection is 100% effective, you should also be mindful of what information you post online. Think carefully whether the information you post is something you’re comfortable with everyone knowing, and if it’s not, don’t share it.

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