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Peek-a-Boo! Someone’s Watching You…

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The recent exposure of the NSA Prism program has indeed opened a can of worms. Millions of Americans who blindly trust tech giants like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook are now worried about their online privacy and the security of their personal data. What’s worse, instead of assuring American citizens, the Obama administration is defending the surveillance program and seems to be determined to continue with the blatant invasion of privacy.

Who Is Watching Your Online Activities?

Before learning how to protect your online security, it is important to know who is watching your online activities. While Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are routinely singled out for monitoring the internet usage of customers, it is now clear that even the government and security agencies play a big role in online surveillance. If we consider the case of NSA Prism program then it becomes evident that major internet companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft and Apple are working hand in glove with security agencies and providing them access to their servers that contains personal information of millions of American people.

Apart from ISPs and security agencies, several other entities participate in monitoring of online activities of netizens. For instance, copyright owners like Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) screen the web for online piracy and distribution of copyrighted movies and music. Many search engines, online portals, social networks, shopping sites and forums use cookies and web beacons to track the behavior of their users and customers. And let’s not even forget about hackers and cyber criminals who can snoop on online sessions and steal data and money through low security Wi-Fi networks or by using sophisticated hacking and sniffing programs.

What Kind Of Information Is Collected Through Online Surveillance?

Most online surveillance programs focus on detecting unusual activities within a specific set of data to identify fraud, criminal activity and security threats. As far as the NSA Prism initiative is concerned, the goal of the program is to identify credible terrorist threats against the American people. It is important to understand that the NSA team is not reading your emails or listening to your Skype sessions; instead they are collecting details like IP address and login/logout time. However, it is indeed possible that the NSA could get access to your emails and VOIP sessions since they are working directly with service providers like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

How To Protect Your Online Privacy?

Although it may seem that it is impossible to escape online surveillance, it is still possible to protect your online activities from monitoring. To safeguard your online activities, you will have to use an anonymizing service like a virtual private network (VPN) every time you connect to the internet. You will also need to ensure that your VPN provider uses a very high level of encryption and provides protection against deep packet inspection. Only by taking matters into your own hands, you would be able to safeguard your privacy and surf the internet without worrying about monitoring and surveillance.

June 14, 2013

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