Is someone watching you?

A laptop with a Venetian blind as a desktop image. But there's a twist! Binoculars peek through the blind. Nice.

Are you?

This post is going to take a look at the ways parties could be snooping on your online activities right now.

Government surveillance

Your government is spying on you. In the U.S., the National Security Agency (NSA) legally gathers private data including:

  • Emails, messages and other data from your accounts with AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo, YouTube, and others
  • Internet traffic passing through undersea fiber optic cables, which it taps in collaboration with governments around the world
  • Cell phone locations in some countries outside the U.S. It collects around 5 billion records per day

In the UK, the Tempora program intercepts internet traffic for surveillance functions in partnership with the nation’s telecom companies and the NSA.

These are only the programs we know about, according to information that is leaked. So there is also the possibility that secret and new surveillance programs are spying on us in other ways, too.

Unsecure internet connections

You may have secured computers and your own network with security and firewall software. You probably also have an authenticated connection to your ISP. But how secure is the path your data takes when you transmit it over the internet?

Unless you are using a VPN, not very. When you send or receive data packets online, you know when they reach their destination. However, you don’t know which networks that information passed through on its way or who may have made a backup. It’s possible that your internet traffic is being spied on, by other parties as well as government agencies. Types include:

Malicious software

Keyloggers — These programs record every keystroke you make and send it to another party, to track your activity or steal data like credit card numbers.

Adware — Websites you visit are monitored and delivered to a third party, which uses the information to target ads based on your history.

Spyware — Software that seems to serve a useful function but that also steals your information. The CoolWebSearch download presented itself but it stole chatlogs, account credentials, bank info and more.

Web advertising distribution networks receive a cookie from your browser each time you see one of the ads. Information that identifies you personally, either by your IP address or your browser’s unique identifier is included by each cookie. You will see their ads on lots of different sites

Third-party tracking cookies

If the ad distributor is large enough. And they’ll find a cookie every time. The end result is that the advertiser can monitor your activity and use the information to target ads.

Most commercial sites now warn you that”This website uses cookies to improve the user experience.”

whether this represents spying is a matter of perspective. However, these tracking cookies could be considered a invasion of your privacy. Consider the next steps,

If you want to protect your information from surveillance that is confidential.

Measures to protect you from spies

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  • Use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic, so spies can’t open data packets even if they intercept them
  • Install security software and keep it up to date, to protect your computer from malware and hackers
  • Disable third-party cookies in your browser. It’s a simple option in Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and others.
  • TAGS
  • Government
  • Surveillance
  • Technology

Lexie is the blog’s resident tech expert and gets excited about empowerment through technology, space travel, and pancakes with blueberries.

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