The Internet is both, a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for obvious reasons. For instance, the Internet made it possible for the average person to access information within seconds. Remember those arguments/debates where you knew you had the right facts, but couldn’t really convince the other person because the facts weren't immediately accessible?
Well, those arguments are practically impossible to have today because all it takes is a few taps or clicks to get the information right from where you’re sitting or standing. That’s just one of the benefits of having Internet.
Let’s not forget advancements such as e-commerce and social media, which have practically revolutionized the way humans interact with the world and each other.
However, there is no such thing as a perfectly good thing and that very much applies to the Internet. In fact, as the Internet evolves, it only grows to become more complex and vulnerable.
One of the greatest challenges that we face with the Internet today is data protection and security. The big question everyone’s asking is “is our data out there for good?”.
So, is it?
The simple answer to that question is “yes”. Your data is online forever. Every little move you make on the Internet stays there forever and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that from happening. Even if you delete your information from a particular website, it isn’t really getting deleted. All that’s happening is that you are removing your details from a particular system, but the website’s servers still have your data.
Of course, there are secure solutions that prevent your data from being accessed by someone. For instance, when you send an email, it passes through several computers on the network before it actually reaches the intended recipient. Anybody can read your email during that time. Fortunately, security solutions such as SSL prevent this from happening.
However, just because your email was read and deleted by the recipient doesn’t mean it’s not out there somewhere in cyberspace. In fact, there are laws ensuring that a copy of that email is maintained for tracking purposes. For example, in Europe, your emails are required to be stored for a period of 3 years.
The same applies to any other information you share on the Internet; your images, secrets, codes, and passwords. Though the data might be stored in secure allocations, all it takes is one curious or disgruntled employee to leak out your personal data or simply just entertain themselves with it.
You, see the Internet isn’t a tangible dimension. It exists in cyberspace. So, there is no such thing as “getting rid of things” like you normally do in the real world. Even in the real world, you’re going to at least leave behind microscopic traces of the things you “get rid of”.
How you can protect your data
As we stated earlier, there really is no way for you to delete your data or remove it from existence within cyberspace. So, you’re only left with two solutions. One is a viable solution and the other one isn’t. The not-so-viable solution is what most conspiracy theorists and paranoid individuals would advocate, which is to go off the grid.
In other words, stop feeding information about yourself to the Internet. But, let’s face it – it’s not exactly a practical solution unless you genuinely want to go back to the middle ages. So, the only other option you have left is the viable one, which is protection.
Make sure you’re using the right security solutions to protect your data, even if you can’t delete it. This could include installing effective anti-malware programs and only visiting sites that are SSL certified. Other than that, make sure you don’t share too much of your data on the Internet. Some things can always be kept private. For instance, what you do on the weekends with your family doesn’t have to be advertised on social media. You’d be surprised what can be done with something that seems so harmless and unimportant.