Online Security Threats to Watch Out For in 2014

“Nobody can steal anything from you, unless you give it away.”

Online information is no longer safe. In this modern digital age, information means money. All kinds of personal information are indeed valuable to any company that has a global presence.

Not only companies, but even Governments and Federal agencies are interested in what people do online. Online spying and data theft happens at a much larger scale due to the extent of internet users and the amount of information that flows through networks on a daily basis.

There are different tools that can help you prevent any instances of attacks on online privacy or security of personal information. But most of these tools are aimed at preventing direct attacks from hackers and information phishing agents. However, Governments and Federal agencies have the necessary resources to bypass these tools by bringing out legislations and laws that will aid investigative authorities in mining information at a large scale. Let us take a look at some of the most prominent threats to online privacy and internet security that will affect the ordinary internet user.

Next Level For PRISM Program – CISPA

PRISM was an unofficial entity, but the US Government, its politicians and associated administrators are trying to make it official. The CISPA act (Cyber Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act) could potentially legalize all forms of data mining and spying carried out by investigative authorities. While the CISPA is facing resistance at the Senate, chances are that the act will soon be implemented and it will be a law to watch out for. Under this law, all communication and internet companies operating out of the US will be required to share data with the US Government unconditionally.

Trans Pacific Partnership – For Extending IP Laws Throughout The Globe

IP or Intellectual Property laws are pretty stringent in the US, and the US Government hopes to spread the laws to 12 different nations. This should provide the US with enough leverage to gradually increase the number of countries participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). While we commend the efforts to protect Intellectual Properties and prevent Copyright Infringement, there are sections of the partnership agreement that can lead to violation of internet freedom and freedom of speech. In the name of copyright and intellectual property protection, all of the participating countries in the TPP will be forced to sacrifice their citizen’s freedom of speech and complete online privacy.

Different Versions Of The UK Porn Filter

The UK has become a pioneer when it comes to officially bringing out an internet censorship law and forcing their citizens to either opt-in or opt-out. The UK porn filter is simple in its working principle. It requires the ISPs, by default, to block all kinds of pornographic material, esoteric content and all other websites that is deemed to be potentially harmful for either citizens or Governments. If any internet user requires access to these types of content, they will have to personally opt-out of the UK porn filter, which will automatically subject them to any spying program from the UK Government or Federal Agencies.

Several countries are now rolling out different versions of the UK porn filter to curb total internet freedom of their citizens. This has helped Governments make the job easier by reducing the number of people that needed to be spied on.

Information Phishing Emails

Hackers are finding new and innovative ways to glean sensitive information from unsuspecting internet users. Emails are perfect from hackers’ point of view, as they can send emails through email spoofs claiming to be representatives of large companies. For instance, it is common for users to receive emails from Ebay, Google, YouTube and other large websites claiming to have problems with their shipping, product or copyright infringement on video uploads, thereby forcing the readers into clicking through and entering personal information.

Mobile Apps & Mobile Internet Connectivity

Mobile security is an important aspect, and is more valuable than the various security considerations required for a laptop or a personal computer. Most smartphones work like a regular PC, and smartphone users utilize their phones or tablets for their entire internet browsing purposes. This includes accessing emails, making payments, online shopping and online banking. To steal sensitive data, hackers design and develop mobile apps that can track every user activity without the user’s knowledge.

Malware & Viruses

Malware and viruses have been with us since the internet was born, and is here to stay forever. It will be naïve to imagine that we will be safe from attacks due to the different anti-malware and anti-virus tools in the market. Hackers always find ways to bypass security measures to get what they want. Now, it is much easier, considering that smartphone and tablet users don’t usually install any anti-virus or anti-malware products. Modern day mobile users also don’t pay any special attention to the apps that they download and install, making it more precarious and dangerous to surf online privately.

While it may be tough to ensure online privacy, there are ways by which internet users can stay safe from security threats. It would be wise for internet users to utilize VPN service and invest in good quality anti-virus as well as anti-malware solutions to keep both the computer/hand-held device as well as the network safe. Ultimately, it rests with the user to be aware of the different security threats and act accordingly by exercising caution during online data transfer or while entering sensitive personal information. If you don’t trust the source, never indulge in any data transfer. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion.