Digital Privacy and Internet Security Basics
An Assistant District Attorney with the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney, Joseph “Joe” Torda holds a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law. In this role, he manages or has managed major trials, charges, insurance fraud, the gun violence task force, and associated cases and hearings. Away from work, Joseph Torda is interested in stand-up comedy, urban planning and design, technology, and digital privacy and Internet security.
Every Internet visit leaves a digital footprint, even before a user affirmatively elects to enter any of their personal information. The captured data includes visited sites, duration on each site, time and date, and browser type. The stakes are higher once you enter private information such as your name, address, bank details, medical history, or even your frequently visited places. Data privacy and Internet security include proactively taking responsibility for information sharing and implementing protective measures.
There are, however, some security tactics you can employ to protect your privacy online. The first tactic is service and product selection. Browser system flaws expose users to cyberattacks. Common browsers that flag insecure sites and employ pop-up blockers should suffice for general browsing, but users should use advanced security features such as encryption and firewalls for sensitive work. In the same vein, you should invest in an updated an effective antivirus product for extra protection.
Another essential tactic is opting for complicated passwords. A complex password significantly reduces vulnerability levels. Avoid easy-to-guess options such as names and birthdays. For sensitive tasks such as bank transactions, implement multi-factor authentication, such as a one time pin (OTP). Certain password managers include in-app password generators, which offer millions of variations for online transactions, especially those requiring a combination of letters, numbers, and complex characters, thus rendering chances of guessing or hacking slim.
The last tactic I can suggest for maintaining your privacy online, avoid clicking on suspicious links and downloads. Confirm email addresses requesting private information, especially for banks or work, or better yet, go directly to the site and log in to address the request, avoiding all links in the email. Hackers use phishing, where the email purports to come from a reputable company, business partner, or colleague. The email addresses appear similar to the genuine sender’s username, albeit with minor changes. Check and compare the address with the official one in your address book or call the genuine contact to confirm the email if there is any doubt.