A Digital Threat

As we live in an increasingly interconnected world a whole industry has popped up that is designed to protectour digital lives.

Even as ads appear claiming their system is unbreakable and that they provide top of the line defense there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reports eachyear of these systems being hacked and crippled. We entrust our social security numbers, banking information, medical records and personal files to these systems. We may think that this information is locked away and safe but in reality it is much more vulnerable than we would like to admit. It seems that every couple of months a new ‘fatal’ flaw is found in the most common security systems. Most of these flaws are found by white hat hackers. These hackers are not malicious criminals but are rather security specialists that seek out these flaws.

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Sadly, these hackers are often times not the first to find these flaws. Malicious cyber-criminals ,called black hat hackers, can easily use these flaws to access a wide variety of digital platforms from personal computers to private servers. We also put ourselves at risk just by having accounts on social networks. This was most apparent when private pictures of various celebrities were leaked. This was caused by a variety of flaws in social networks and the cloud storage service iCloud. Passwords were stolen through social networks and a flaw in iCloud lead to pictures being stolen quite easily.

Even the companies that we would hope have our best interest at heart will trade our security for their profits. There is evidence of this in personal data being sold to advertisers so that we get more results based on previous browsing habits. Our household conversations can also be transmitted to a nameless third party company. Samsung’s smart T.V privacy policy allows such actions.

The television itself is not powerful enough to process such an action so it is sent to a server where it is processed. This is so that instead of using a remote we can just talk to a T.V . Most people take this for granted and do not think about the process that goes on behind the screen. In order for the T.V to pick up commands it must always be listening and therefore always broadcasting your conversations.

These can range from simple dinner conversation to very private conversations. Most people unknowingly trade their privacy for a convenient tool that for most people is rarely used. There was also evidence of a security flaw that was created by the computer manufacturer Lenovo. They installed adware software that read browsing habits and would then make ads look like results in search engines.

This changed certain security certificates that can potentially be used by hackers to access someone’s entire computer. Of course Lenovo responded and released and put out an update to resolve the problem. But unfortunately as most people understand updates can be a chore and most people just opt out of them. As few as ?of users install regular updates and these updates could solve key problems such as the one created by Lenovo. People’s cellphones and the GPS system that is in them is a very useful feature.

This helps with navigation and finding nearby locations. These systems can also be used to track people. An increasingly large number of social networks are including a location tracking feature. These features allow users to put their GPS locations on their posts. These can easily be used to develop average travel patterns and even the addresses of people. Some functionalities on modern cellphones track where they go on a daily basis and where they stop for long times.

This leads to phones developing locations for work and home. Most people enjoy this as it can give traffic updates and temperature reports. Although these reports can be stored by hackers and can be used for nefarious purposes. The big question we must ask is “are we willing to sacrifice our private information for simple conveniences”. Most of the time these are no life changing inventions and we lived fine before we had them and we would live fine without them.

But how much do you value your privacy and security?