Who's watching you online?

Last updated:
Dec 9, 2019

A prerequisite of holistic family safety is mitigating online threats – so a level of understanding of how information can be retrieved from the internet is essential. We often focus on protecting online data and individual devices: as the ‘internet of things’ grows it will be the unforeseen devices that we forget about – which are naturally insecure – which will cause the most significant and intimate data breaches.

Platforms such as Shodan search out these forgotten devices and index them, essentially becoming a ‘Google’ for identifying easily hackable devices – including everything from baby monitors to home CCTV.

Search engines and social media provide specific personal details that can be easily gathered by advertising firms. A recent example of this was in February 2017, when electronics company Vizio was caught ‘spying’ on customers by tracking their viewing habits and selling that information to marketing firms and data brokers. Even more sinister – open source surveillance conducted by hostile actors, from terrorists to organised criminal networks, can equip them with the necessary details of anything from names and personal information about family members, to favourite restaurants and personal assets. This information can then be used by criminal networks to launch targeted attacks on individuals and their properties.

There are several simple steps you can take to establish some control and privacy over your cyber activities. First is blocking tracker cookies in your web browser, which has two benefits. It protects digital assets by ceasing to share your browsing history with other websites, which has positive implications on your personal security, secondly it  benefits your wallet- through algorithms these cookies provide retailers with information to change pricing based on your previous web browsing.

Secondly, where many fall short is their failure to encrypt traffic to prevent others intercepting it. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) should be used on desktop and mobile devices allowing you to not only bypass geoblocks but also ensure the data that you are transmitting and receiving remains private.

A third step would be to install a private server, or Tor network, to anonymise your network. In this case, in order to understand cyber criminals, it is important to think like one. According to stats published by the Office of National Statistics, in the UK alone, almost two million cybercrime incidents were recorded from Sept 2015 to Sept 2016. They, more often than not, use an anonymous server to direct internet traffic through a global network consisting of over seven thousand relays, which operate to conceal your browsing history and location. However, it is easy for the police or intelligence agencies to find out that you have a Tor network; which begs the question, if you have one what are you hiding?

However, if downloading multiple platforms and software onto your devices seems daunting, then buying an off-the-shelf super-secure phone is an effective option. Although these come with a rather hefty price tag, the latest security-led phone by DarkMatter offers ultra-secure end-to-end encryption. Known as ‘Katim’, the device also offers two-factor authentication, and over a dozen additional security measures specifically made to deter even the most sophisticated hackers. Other, slightly older yet noticeably cheaper, phones exist on the market also, such as Sikur’s GranitePhone, which promises their usual secure messaging technology and OS encryption.

At AnotherDay we believe that in order to comprehensively navigate your way through the complicated and time consuming world of cyber defence it is advisable to enlist the help of a security company with relevant expertise in intelligence. As such, a tailored review and assessment of your specific cyber vulnerability and threats you and your family face is of paramount importance.

We use various state-of-the-art technologies and intelligence platforms to provide bespoke privacy guides, similar to those used by journalists or political activists to purposely avoid national and transnational surveillance. We place operational security, encryption, tracking blockers and platform advisory at the heart of our consultancy for our most important clients: you and your family.

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