Online privacy is something very important for anyone using the Web. Nonetheless, not many people care for it. There are several reasons for this: firstly, many think that it’s too much work and they tend to focus on present benefits and ignore the future costs of their decision; secondly, a lot of Internet users think that nothing bad can happen to them; and thirdly, we always think that we have more control that we do.
So why should you care about your privacy?
Security, of course, is one reason – but the most important is ‘data permanence’. The end of privacy is the end of second chances. By protecting your privacy, you’re preserving your reputation. You have to think about the offline consequences of your online behaviours. For example, what you post (photos, comments…) today may be retrieved years later when you apply for a job or grad school. If you comment about sensitive issues, they can stay with you even after you have changed your views. What you do today is recorded and stored with no expiration date and no erase button.
So what can you do?
First of all, share with care. Always think with care what you share about yourself and about others. Check your privacy settings to know what is public and what is private. Follow this link for a guideline on how to do that. Here are some tips on privacy on social media.
Also, think before you app. We’re all using mobile devices so here are tips for mobile privacy.
Another great thing to do is paying attention to passwords. You can’t have good privacy without good security. A really easy thing to do is use good passwords. This great TED talk by Dr Lorrie Cranor talks about her research about passwords. Per example says discovered that ‘monkey’ is the most common animal and the 14th most common password. Also, love and things that make us happy are common when creating a password; so it would be clever to avoid those. And never reuse a password, that’s very dangerous! And use lots of symbols, not just the exclamation mark!
Which tools are available?
Here are some basic privacy-enhancing tools that are out there. Mozilla has several since privacy is one of its main missions. Mozilla thinks that “Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional”.
First of all, there’s ‘Private Browsing’. Any browser has this feature but to be 100% sure, we recommend Firefox and Firefox Mobile. A really interesting use for private browsing is to use it when researching for airline fares for example. By using it that way, the company can’t see whether you have already searched for that particular airline fare. It’s interesting to search with privacy browsing then without it and see if you get the same results.
The ‘Forget‘ button is something new that Mozilla has. It’s available for Firefox Desktop, Mobile and Firefox OS. If you’ve forgotten to use private browsing and you don’t want someone who’s using your computer to see what you browsed for (a birthday gift, an engagement ring…) you can push this button and select how long you’d like the browser to forget and it’s gone!
Firefox has also several privacy add-ons that you can use.
If you’re using Firefox for Android, there is the new Privacy Coach available for you.
Do Not Track has been around for a while. It’s available for Firefox Desktop, Mobile and Firefox OS. It tells advertisers that you don’t want them to track you. And then there’s Lightbeam, whcih will actually show you who is tracking you!
Finally, use Password Managers. A lot of people reuse their passwords because they can’t remember them. Those password managers can help you with that.
Firefox OS has been created with your privacy in mind. The main feature that Mozilla put up to protect your privacy is the Do Not Track option. Most major websites track their visitors’ behavior and then sell or provide that information to other companies. This information can be used to show ads, products or services specifically targeted to you. Firefox OS has a Do Not Track feature that lets you tell every website you visit, their advertisers, and content providers that you don’t want your browsing behavior tracked. Turning on this feature will not affect your ability to login to websites nor cause Firefox to forget your private information, such as the contents of shopping carts, location information or login information.
The bottom line is that if you are searching for a smartphone that respects your security and privacy, check out Firefox OS!