11 November 2020

How to check if companies support your online privacy

In today’s interconnected world your online privacy is of utmost importance which is overlooked by many users confusing this topic with online security.

Very briefly, online security is with reference to your online presence being ‘secure’ from say hackers, where your browsing is done via https instead of http or an up to date software or hardware firewall protecting your internet connected devices from being broken into.

Anti-virus software may not be beneficial to your privacy/security, as it gives rise to other issues, where this is a separate topic not part of this article.

Online privacy is in relation to your online presence not being tracked to your person or your identity.

Your 'identity' can come in many forms such as your phone number, IMEI/IMSI, your internet connected device's unique serial number, email, Apple/Google login, your online social media identity name and of course your government registered legal name.

Your identity can be captured in many ways today, where your Apple or Google smart phone is the biggest data sieve.

This is one of the reasons why governments and corporations ‘entice’ people to use apps on smart phones rather than the website via a personal computer.

As a brief example, using your favourite social media platform on a personal computer via a browser will not give extra information from sensors your smart phone has including your location, barometric conditions or even the room’s lighting conditions or how far away your are from your Wi-Fi router which can be obtained from the app despite what you are lead to believe when you use software switches in relation to those sensors.

Methods such as browser fingerprinting and device fingerprinting are used to identify you personally in both smart phone and personal computer devices.

You are encouraged to use your smart phone for various types of payments whether it be from financial services companies, transport operators, retailers etc where this is one of the worst actions you could do in relation to your privacy.

People should also be aware of the fundamental component in identifying you on the internet that being your IP  (short for Internet Protocol, from TCP/IP) address, you know a number like, allocated to you by your internet service provider.

IP anonymising services like VPNs or TOR have been around for quite some time in protecting your privacy, where pop culture or rather Hollywood has associated this with illegal/criminal activity.

It would be akin to using the logic to ban vehicles or highways because criminals use these to make their getaways.

More people should be using IP anonymising services and helping TOR expand in order to protect their online privacy.

The more people use it the better your online privacy becomes.

So, as an example to see if a company or government values your privacy, use a VPN or TOR to see if you can access their website.

In this case we used ‘Services Australia’ or the old Centrelink where we obtained this result:

This shows that the Australian Government does not value your online privacy, therefore also your online security.

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