When creating an account online whether it is for online banking, social media or education purposes there are a series of steps one has to go through. Therefore, one might be required to relay sensitive information such as their address, full name and date of birth to these websites. Although some websites ensure the upmost privacy of one’s information, that is not the case for most websites. Moreover, having one’s information spread across a multitude of platforms can leave that knowledge vulnerable to the oddity that is the digital space.
While conducting my research about digital privacy and how we can protect traces of ourselves that we leave behind, I found a variety of fallacies that lay within popular websites. Furthermore, certain sensitive information about ourselves is open to public record and we may not even be aware of the transparency between our personal lives and strangers.
Throughout the module, I conversed with my group members about information they were finding along with my own. Therefore, one task we completed was creating our own CryptoParty. Furthermore, we discussed research that we found under the suggested tasks and were shocked at our findings. Additionally, we explored the options of ad blocking software that you can download and found that uBlock Origin was one that we liked the most. Although, we discovered that it is most popular on Google Chrome, so one would have to already have that browser to download it (we did not try it on other browsers, but the software is available for Chrome, Chromium, Edge, Firefox, Opera and releases of Safari prior to 13).
Another website we found was FamilyTreeNow which seems harmless, but once you enter in your information such as your name, city and state you live in, the website generates a numerous list of information. Therefore, what you will come across is that your name, possible (and accurate) list of relatives, previous home addresses and phone numbers are open to the public. Conversely, plastered on the sides of the website is a warning letting users know that some of this information comes from police and public records. Although, the access that anyone can search your name and become knowledgable about this information is worrying. Overall, I thought that the site’s intent was seemingly harmless, but someone with the wrong intention could gain personal information about you by just looking up your name is something to be cautious about.
The final website we looked into was Two Factor Auth (2FA) which gives the user the freedom to see if their bank, social media, or school uses the two factor authentication when logging into one’s account. Furthermore, the website allows you to browse any and all types of platforms websites have to see if the 2FA is a function that is used. Moreover, websites and companies that do not require the 2FA can put their users and customers at risk for hacking. Additionally, this poses the question if the companies we trust with our private information are protecting it with the best solutions possible.
I felt that this module was useful in educating me about how to better protect my personal information online and where I can go to further ensure my information is safe. Overall, I think that I met my goals for this module and learned valuable tips that I will continue to use.