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The Privacy Paradox: 5 Places we Give Up Privacy Online — and Don’t Know It

When we set good intentions — whether it’s in our careers or personal pursuits — there’s always the chance that we’ll fall short sometimes.  

This is especially true in the instance of our online lives and how, despite our best intentions and sincerest concerns, we compromise our privacy online.  

This is called the privacy paradox, meaning that we believe online privacy is important, but we don’t act on that belief. Instead, it’s often the case that we prioritize the internet’s conveniences over protecting our personal information and sensitive data from the world of cybersecurity and data tracking risks that lurk on the internet. 

And this has never been more important than the present, on the heels of a year like 2020 that put more of us online than ever out of, yes, convenience but also out of circumstance. 

For perspective, according to Norton’s 6th annual Cyber Safety Insights Report: 

  • 73 percent of Americans say they are spending more time online than ever before, due in part to COVID-19. 
  • And 59 percent say they are more worried than ever about becoming a victim of cybercrime. 
  • Yet, 40 percent of Americans also admit they don’t know how to protect themselves from cybercrime. 

What’s more, cybercrime victims collectively spent 2.7 billion hours trying to resolve their dilemmas in the last 12 months. For one example of the cybersecurity messes these victims had to clean up, 25 percent of Americans detected unauthorized access to an account or device. 

Merely managing your privacy settings can go a long way in safeguarding your digital privacy and, in turn, taking back control of your data. But when you consider all of the common websites, applications, and platforms we visit online every day, there are many more tweaks that need to be made.  

To put you on the right path, we’re highlighting five places we frequent and fumble our good intentions to protect our online privacy, plus pointers to stay ahead of potential cyber threats.

1. Food delivery apps and services

After a long day’s work, there’s not much like the reprieve of having dinner or groceries delivered right to your doorstep. That’s where food delivery apps and services have come in — and been on the rise in the past year when even going to grocery stores didn’t feel feasible. For all of their conveniences, though, food delivery apps and services are also susceptible to cyber threats. Just consider the profile information you save in them for later, including your home address and payment methods. The reality is data breaches happen and customer information can be compromised and leveraged to attempt identity theft.  

To offset any worst-case scenarios, opt to input your personal information manually for every transaction, don’t save it for later, or don’t create an account. And, if you do opt to create an account, be sure to use a strong, unique password, and change it often. Also, always use for two-factor authentication, if it’s an option.

2. Social media platforms

Social media is for sharing, right? Of course, but there’s a difference between sharing and oversharing — and we’re not meaning about inspirational quotes or funny cat videos. Consider how much personal information you leave public on your social media profiles, including your precise date of birth or alma mater and even employment history. All of these can be used by cybercriminals to piece together your identity or by data brokering sites to piece together a customer profile. 

As a safe measure, always set your social media accounts to private to ensure you’re approving your “friends” and also limit your “about me” information in your profiles. Moreover, take the time to get to know your social media privacy settings — and update your data tracking preferences accordingly.

3. Online shopping sites

Many of us leaned on online shopping well before the COVID-19 pandemic all but forced us into it. And while our buying habits might have changed, cybercriminals’ tactics have stayed the same for the most part. This is especially when it comes to how they use formjacking to collect sensitive user information on a checkout page, which can later be used for identity theft, extortion, or to sell on the dark web.  

It’s not as scary as it sounds, though, if you level up your online privacy protection. To do this best, browse online shopping sites in incognito mode or use a VPN, which encrypts your data. Finally, only visit secure websites, meaning ones beginning with “HTTPS.”

4. Video conferencing services

No matter if you’ve leveraged one for work, virtual happy hours with friends, or even telehealth appointments, one thing is for certain: Video conferencing services have never been more popular or important. And that includes being important for cybercriminals who are looking to hack into the webcams of our devices, potentially committing a true invasion of privacy.  

To level up your video conferencing cybersecurity, practice webcam awareness first a foremost:  

  • Use a video background instead of exposing your physical surroundings. 
  • Always log out and close video conferencing apps after a meeting ends. 
  • Cover your webcam when not in use. 

Additionally, consider using a VPN at all times.

5. Streaming platforms

Most of us couldn’t even imagine dreaming of a world without streaming. Between television streaming services and online gaming sites, streaming platforms are our go-to form of entertainment. 

But they too aren’t exempt from cybersecurity incidents, especially considering how hungry cybercriminals are to sell our account logins on the dark web. Not to mention, there’s the personal information like payment methods and home addresses that we save in our profiles out of convenience — and unbeknownst to us, for a hacker’s convenience.  

To safeguard your account information, always use strong, unique passwords, and change them often. In addition, opt into two-factor authentication, if it’s available.

Xantrion can help you choose and configure the most privacy-oriented browsers, teach your employees about proper desktop and mobile privacy settings, and show you how to incorporate them into your broader cybersecurity strategy. Contact us today to get started!