While it is true that women constantly face problems in terms of everyday security, there are scores of other women who suffer because of technology abuse. Most women, undoubtedly, have got inappropriate messages via social media, have been stalked in the cyberworld and have, probably, stumbled upon their photographs in the most unlikely of places.
Technology, no doubt, is a great asset. While all of us should use it to our advantage, not many realise that our very phones could get us in trouble. That explains why we don’t think twice before downloading apps and allowing them to access a whole lot of personal information. Just because we don’t see someone physically taking a look at our personal data, we live in blissful ignorance!
Instances of women being attacked, harassed or threatened by strangers have been aplenty. Stalkers or digital predators keep track of all their movements through the vast portals of the Internet. And women become unwitting targets, not knowing that a harmless digital gesture, such as appreciating an ice cream parlour they visited or talking about a road trip they went on will feed lots more information into some twisted minds with devious ideas. But can you erase your digital presence altogether? After all, it is the age of sharing and showing off, even if subtly. Sure, you might not want to fall off the social radar, but there are certain precautionary measures you can take to avoid mishaps.
The first step One of the first things to do is to turn off ‘location services’ on your phone. There are many apps that can access your location. These apps constantly keep track of your phone and automatically post your status on various social media sites. Not all the friends on Facebook are people you know well. Would you want all the 400-odd people on your friend list to know that you are dining at a particular restaurant or that you have checked into an airport? Many times, these posts can be read by people outside the friend circle. These are dangerous apps you can have. In real life you would never tell everyone you know where you are going, everytime, would you?
Most phones come with a GPS. It is easy and very useful. But, would you want to pin your ‘home’? Phones get lost all the time. The finder of your phone, not just has your phone, but your address as well. Also, certain map applications keep a record of your location history. With just one click, anyone can tell where you have been in the last couple of months.
Search engines know what you have been up to on the Internet. It is the job of the browser to give personalised information, every time you login. Haven’t you wondered how you somehow always find what you want? There are people who are constantly writing many complicated codes to feed you with what you want to see when you login. Your digital footprint is easy to track.
Websites thrive on keeping track of its visitors. Not just that, whenever you connect to a website, it also has access to your browsing history. This is done primarily to pop in those relevant ads on your screen. It is always better to allow yourself a bit of privacy. Select the ‘Do not Track’ option on your browser.
Although this is not a foolproof method, it can at least send out a message to the websites you visit that you don’t want it to take your information.
Be selectively social
Even sites like Facebook are watching your activity constantly. Ever wondered why some of the friends never show up on your newsfeed? That is because Facebook keeps track of the posts you click the ‘like’ button on or what you ‘comment’ on. And, it throws in what you like to see on your newsfeed. This actually makes you forget the ‘long’ friend list and you may end up posting something you can regret.
It may seem like commonsense to not post too many pictures on social media. Yet there are many who post pictures that are available for everyone to see. A simple search online can give a host of information about the person, where they have been recently, what their likes and dislikes are, what their idea of life is and so much more. In the pursuit of ‘showing off’ a perfect, well-sculpted life, everyone is inadvertently giving out a host of personal information to the entire world, while they remain unknown to their next-door neighbour!
It is wise to refrain from posting pictures with landmarks, personal vehicles or anything that can give out more information than is required. Never exchange sensitive information or sensitive pictures on phones or Internet via WhatsApp or SMS. Remember this information has to be transmitted and someone is reading it all the time.
Whatever happened to the rule of thumb that says if you won’t say it on a public platform, you can’t say it on Facebook? Somehow, we have forgotten it. With wireless network becoming commonplace, our connectivity has increased. And so have the associated risks.
Stay on the good side
With smart phones helping us go online, we can connect wherever we go. But, it is wise not to login on open networks unless it is critical. Phones hold a host of information and are vulnerable to online snooping and hacking. Never use your phone to buy something or pay for something, especially via open wi-fi.
While the Internet is a great place to be, it is also a scary place where, it is easy to get lost, get robbed and also get benefitted. We just need to enjoy the benefits of the world wide web with some hardwired commonsense in our head. Better safe than sorry. Always.