How many times have you heard the argument ‘I have nothing to hide, so why should I fear being monitored?’ It’s a very attractive idea: you pay your taxes, don’t commit crimes, and are loyal to your partner, so indeed, why would you want to hide anything? We are living in a free world, where cyber criminals are hunting only the rich and those who have something to hide.
But actually, in a digital era in which there are countless ways to gain access to user data, this false claim gives consumers a sense of overconfidence, which has devastating results both for their bank accounts – $172 billion was stolen from customers in 2017 alone – and personal lives.
The Data We Generate
User interaction with the surrounding world (especially in a digital one) can reveal political and religious beliefs, desires, sympathies, convictions, and things that users aren’t even aware of. Having access to enough data could help those watching to predict the behavior of any tracked subject(s).
Our digital lives reflect our real lives: phone call records expose who we often talk to or where we go, while our internet usage can expose almost everything about ourselves and the things we care about. The fact that someone (for example the government) collects data about us and that we allow them do so means that we must trust their motives. However, if that data ends up in the hands of a hacker, then this becomes a huge issue to deal with. The more info that is available, the more devastating the potential is for the victim of data theft.
So think again, does the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument really stand up? No. Of course not, we all have something to hide. Just imagine any of these scenarios:
- If I have a serious health issue, I don’t want to worry my kids; I want to consult a doctor first.
- If I’m looking for a new job, I want to keep that info to myself and not share it with my current employer.
- If I download adult content that I enjoy, I have my reasons for not wanting my neighbors to know what I’m watching.
- I have been convicted of a crime in the past, but why should I be forced to share that info with my neighbors?
And the list goes on. Every piece of unprotected information reveals something about you, which cyber criminals can use to make a connection.
Password Reuse Weakens Security
When it comes to internet-based services, information is key. Without using a password manager or tricks to generate cryptographically secure passwords, people tend to reuse the same login credentials for multiple online accounts. Even if a password is strong, once it is reused with another account its strength is already halved simply because if cyber criminals get their hands on the database storing that specific password, then they can use it in their password cracking techniques to unlock your other accounts.
If they find a match, the data protected by the password will end up in their hands. From that moment on you are at their mercy, and these people aren’t known for being softhearted.
Uneducated Parents Fall Victims to Cyber Crime
This also applies to our parents’ accounts. If you don’t inform your mom or dad about the risks of using the same password over and over again or don’t provide the necessary software to protect her digital life, then they can easily fall prey to cyber criminals. Who’s to blame in this case?
Secure Your Digital Life
Those small things we want to hide from others, such as passwords, are like magnets to cyber criminals. It’s important to shield them by using the right methods: use an antivirus software for system protection, protect your account with a strong password, and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible even if you feel that you don’t have anything valuable that could be stolen. Use a password manager to generate cryptographically secure passwords for every account and protect your digital life.
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