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Privacy Primer: 4 Key Things to Know About Protecting Your Privacy Online

by Erik Briceno

Online privacy continues to be a hot issue for individuals and businesses who use the internet. As our reliance on the internet grows, the topic just keeps getting hotter. But the right IT tech support from a managed services provider can help you control the impact on your company.

First, it’s helpful to understand who is collecting data online — internet service providers (ISPs), Facebook, Google, Amazon and lots of other folks who want to know about you and how you spend your time online. We’re not talking about people trying to steal your identity via hacking or malware. What these companies are doing is collecting — some people call it “data mining” — raw data to turn it into useful information.

Once you understand that, it’s essential to take the steps you can to protect your privacy, whether you’re an individual browsing the internet or a company relying on the internet for your business needs.

1. Last year, things changed.

In 2017, Congress voted to let ISPs such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast monitor their customers’ behavior online — and when we’re talking about “customers,” we’re talking about everyone who uses the internet. Basically, that’s all of us.

As The Washington Post explained, that means ISPs can use their customers’ personal and financial information, without their permission, to sell highly targeted ads — making them rivals to Google and Facebook in the online advertising market. That includes such things as our browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers.

2. This year, things changed again.

Then in 2018, we learned that the private data of up to 87 million Facebook users had been gathered by the political data firm Cambridge Analytica and allegedly used to influence the outcome of elections in the United States and Great Britain. This wasn’t an ISP or an online platform; this was a third-party company that exploited the weaknesses in Facebook’s privacy protocols to collect and sell the data. That revelation caused a huge scandal, led Facebook to change its privacy settings and forced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in congressional hearings.

But Facebook isn’t the only company gathering your data. You know all those online agreements you click without reading? You’re giving companies access to your data in exchange for using their products. That includes giants like Google, Amazon and Apple, but there are plenty of other companies also collecting data.

In fact, there’s a whole field of companies whose job is to gather customer information, explained Liam Hanham, director of data science at Elicit.

“In short, customer data can be collected in three ways,” Hanham told Business News Daily. “By directly asking customers, by indirectly tracking customers and by appending other sources of customer data to your own. A robust business strategy needs all three.”

3. What’s the GDPR?

Privacy Primer: 4 Key Things to Know About Protecting Your Privacy OnlineThe General Data Protection Regulation is a rule passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new regulations for how companies manage and share personal data. It just went into effect in May 2018, which is why you’ve been getting all those notices about updates to privacy settings from everyone from Facebook to Slack to Google.

But how does that affect those of us here in the United States?

The folks at The Verge explain it this way: “In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for U.S. users as companies scramble to adapt.”

4. What Can You Do?

There are concrete steps you can take to protect your privacy. The right IT tech support from a managed service provider can help you understand how to implement practices that can minimize the impact on your company.

A managed services provider represents your organization with broadband providers —which is even more important now that ISPs can monitor your online activities — and can help you understand what’s involved. When it comes to protecting your privacy, the best solution comes from safeguards that are an integral part of your network infrastructure, software and management right from the start.

Our expert engineers constantly monitor regulations, such as those that govern internet privacy issues. In this rapidly changing landscape, you need fast access to professionals with the know-how and specialized expertise to make sure your network is serving you in a way that consistently maximizes the business value of your investment in the technology.

 
Since 1995, Manassas Park, VA-based V2 Systems has employed local systems administrators, network engineers, security consultants, help desk technicians and partnering companies to meet a wide range of clients’ IT needs, from research, to implementation, to maintenance. Concentrate on your VISION…We’ll handle the TECHNOLOGY! 

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Privacy Primer: 4 Key Things to Know About Protecting Your Privacy Online
Privacy Primer: 4 Key Things to Know About Protecting Your Privacy Online