The Weekend Chatroom | Data Security | How important is it to a common man? | Part 1

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We often keep hearing about hackers stealing data or hacking accounts for ransom.

Do you think that as a layman we are not prone to any of these attacks? If yes, you need to revisit your thought process.

Human beings are the weakest link in any security chain

Going by this quote, we should be extra cautious the next time we read our emails, click on some random links, share our passwords etc as it is us who are often tricked and made to fall prey to all these kind of malicious activities.

In this episode of The Weekend Chatroom, I had a discussion with Riyaz Rafi Ahmed who is a Security Engineer at Hippo Video. A person who keeps a tab on the novel ways through which companies and people fall prey to hackers and ensures he brings about an awareness amongst people to take precautionary measures.

As a common man, why should I be concerned about security?

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We live in an age where technology is all around us. From our essentials such
as food to interactions with office colleagues, we use technology. Swiggy,
Zoom, Google meet, Whatsapp, Facebook, etc. are the major players in our life
and with or without us knowing, they are shaping the way we live.

Since the internet boom is very recent in India, many people do not know
about the risks one faces while browsing the internet. Being one of the people
who secure the internet, one step at a time, I have seen many people giving
away so much personal information about themselves such as when they leave their home, what coffee they drink, photos with their families, and some even post photos of their home just like that.

The huge value of the internet is to business provides opportunities for
criminals to intervene in our lives at any time they want and just take the stuff
away. Say I want to order a cake from a shop which has an online store. It
would take an experienced developer less than 1 minute to understand how
the store works and easily change the final cake value to 0. That’s a free cake.

So why should you care about security? Because whether you like it or not,
you are being spied upon. Google, Facebook, and every major name you have
heard out there is using your data to drive their business. The moment you
google search “washing machine”, there is a complicated algorithm that runs
and tags you with something which looks like “this user is interested in
washing machines”. And guess what? When you go to amazon to purchase
some chips, in your ads section, you will see washing machines. And when you go to youtube, your recommendations will be linked to washing machines in more ways than you can comprehend.

Multi-billion dollar organisations are running behind your data. Just the very fact that you are interested in washing machines is of really high value to them because they sell that information to other service providers and earn a lot from that.

This isn’t that scary? Well if you are looking for insurance, insurance providers
will know it before you even tell them and increase the prices just for you
because they know that you are looking for insurance. That is what is going on right now and there is proof of it. People are speaking up against it and things do not seem good but the privacy-focused people and GDPR are doing it’s best.

I hope that convinces you why you should be worried about your security.
Because if you were to pay 3x times more for something and another guy who
is privacy-centric is paying just 1x the amount, you’d be irritated or even
angry. It is time to take your privacy into your hands.

Possible ways through which my data can be exposed and what impact does it have?

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Everything you do is being recorded via your phone, cameras around, and
many other surveillance devices. This is not that apparent in India as of now
but we will reach there.. eventually. Some of how your data is exposed to
others are

Your mobile phone’s GPS
The solution — turn it off at all times and use it only when necessary; do not give location permission to applications that do not need GPS. Why would a phone cleaner app need your GPS? Think before you click on “grant permissions”.

Your phone’s camera and your laptop’s camera
There are little devices that sell which are to be stuck to the side of your camera and can be used to close it when not in use. And the same can be done on laptops too.

Complicated AI works behind the video feed which your cameras send to
identify the products you use and use that in combination with the audio
input to figure out what you are interested in and look for small pieces of
information that can be monetised.

Social media
The amount of personal information that can be siphoned from social media is enough to fill in a bank application and open an account in your name. Seriously. Especially in India, people are addicted to social media so much that they crave for likes. This craving for likes/attention has also led to them doing unreasonable things such as posting information about themselves which should be kept private. No one needs to know when you check-in at McDonald’s or what coffee you are drinking. It just gives away more information about yourself which is then used to profile you.

Other than this, some other ways are more indirect. If you purchase a UCB
shirt, then your account is labeled and information that you have purchased a
UCB shirt is sent to UCB, your bank account and these entities then send such
information to the major big players like Google, Facebook, etc. Information
travels around quickly and this is the major money maker for these guys.

— — — — — — — — — TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK — — — — — — — — -

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karthik seshadri

Handsome :P | Young | Introvert | Music Enthusiast | Budding Writer | Budding Photographer | Cricket Fanatic | Fashion Admirer | Thamizhan | தாய் பாசம் கொண்டவன்