Most of us probably do not consider ourselves particularly attractive targets for hackers/cyber attacks. But everyone’s data is worth the money, and since it has unfortunately become more accessible and more widespread than ever before, we are all being monitored to some degree. Thus, the cyber threat is even more significant than ever.
This is not always a bad thing – many websites and apps do it to give us a better experience and tailor the product to us – but it sometimes happens on terms that you may not quite feel you have said yes to. It is therefore important to distinguish between the types of surveillance, as they can certainly not be said to be equally harmful.
In general, it can be divided into three main categories for monitoring:
- Cookies. Your visit history on a given website is saved with cookies. This can then both be used by the website itself, but other websites can also use this information, e.g., to show you more relevant advertisements on other websites (such as Facebook).
- Use of websites/apps. All social media uses this to some extent, for example, how long you look at a picture, and which one you like or comment on. Then they use this information to improve their algorithm and give you more of the content they expect you will enjoy.
- Definite monitoring. Although this one is rare, sometimes it still happens. Here, a person or a company has gained access through a wireless network or directly through your phone or computer. With this, monitoring can take place through the use of a microphone or camera as well as a monitoring of the use of the device.
These various forms of surveillance cannot be avoided entirely, but there are some steps that can be taken to minimize them. Although parts of the internet will not function without some degree of surveillance, it can quickly become too much of a good thing. We, therefore, come up with several pieces of advice and measures that you can consider using to keep as much control yourself as possible:
How to limit the amount of monitoring
Of course, the easiest way is to not register on the internet or use it at all. But it is not an option in modern society, so let’s look at how to limit the amount of surveillance.
- First and foremost, you should say yes to as few cookies as possible and clean your browser/computer from them regularly. This can most easily be done by using incognito mode/private browsing, which you will find as a feature in all web browsers.
- When you visit a website, the connection should always be secure and encrypted – even if you do not plan to enter, e.g., log in. If the website is not already secure (you can see this by the fact that it says https: // and that there is a padlock to the left of the URL in the address field, which indicates a valid SSL certificate), then you can make it secure – either using browser extensions like HTTPS Everywhere or a VPN. A VPN will allow you to change your IP address and browse the internet more safely. You may wonder what my IP address is; to simply put, it is a numerical label connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.
- Finally, you can also use a browser extension like Disconnect that lets you see exactly which websites are monitoring you and what information they are using. At the same time, the extension allows you to end it, and then you also have a good idea of what to watch the next time you visit similar websites.