Cyber Security in the Internet Age — It Matters

Your information is valuable. Where you are, what you do, and how people can get your money. However, nearly everything you do while online is being tracked, stored and used to create a profile about you that includes your race, sexual identity and activity, income level, health conditions, political leanings, and religious beliefs. This profile can be shared with advertisers, corporations, and the government. 

Fortunately, you can stop them from getting the answers by taking action to secure your privacy and by learning why this kind of research is and is going to continue to be important in future years. 

How the iPhone can track you.

Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world and it is estimated that about half of smartphone users worldwide are using an iPhone. So, knowing how to be safe while using it is important. Apple apps are separated into three types what they can track and what they can do with it. 

  1.  The first tier, beautifully named ‘data not linked to you,’ can only track your location and diagnostics and it cannot link them to you specifically. It can track the least of the three tiers.”
  2. The second tier called linked to you’ can also track your browsing history, financial and contact info, and usage data and along with this it can link it to you specifically. 
  3. The third tier is unsurprisingly called ‘data used to track you’ this is the most popular option, and it contains all tracking options in the past two, but removes user content. This setting allows apps to not only link the data to you but can also see data collected by other companies.  

If you want to find out which of these apps is, simply go to the apps page on the app store and scroll down past the reviews and you will be able to see what type the app is and a list of what it can track. 

How Android can track you

Android is another big company, but unfortunately, it does not have a clear system. It does give classification for distinct types of permissions,  

  1. The first type is Install-Time permissions. These give an app limited access to restricted data. 
  2. The second type is Normal permissions. These are the normal permissions that do not pose much risk to the user. 
  3. The third type of permission is Run-time permissions which give the app additional access to restricted information  
  4.  The fourth type is Signature permissions which allow an app to use a defined permission that another app has defined as long as the two are signed by the same certificate.
  5. The Fifth type of permission is Special permission which can only be defined by the platform and the OEMs and is used to prevent powerful actions like drawing over other apps. 

Android apps take a lot of information, but a few examples are 24% of apps can track your precise location, 35% of apps can read the status and identity of your phone, 54% of apps can modify or delete contents of your usb storage, and 83% of apps can send data without the internet. 

Location Tracking Prevention

Fortunately, there are ways to limit what Apple and Android can take. For example, if you do not want your location to be tracked the fix is simple.

On android go to settings, then location, then location settings, and from there you can turn off location reporting and history.  

On iphone there are more options first go to settings, then privacy, then location settings, and from there you can turn off all location tracking or decide which apps can see your location and when they can though if the app is “data used to track you” and you turn the location taking off it will still be able to see it through other apps. 

Or if you want to be safe You can use a VPN or a faraday bag (a bag that is used to block remote tracking) 

Browsing Data Tracking Prevention

Another application that apps can track is browsing data. Fortunately, Google provides a way for android users to block tracking. First go into the chrome app, then go to the right of the address bar and tap more settings, then tap do not track, and finally turn the setting off. 

There is no google provided way to block tracking on iPhone though There is a way, first, go to settings then go to safari, then scroll down and tap prevent cross-site-tracking you can also choose to block all cookies from this menu which will stop a lot of websites from tracking you but will also limit your access to certain websites that require cookies.  

Banking Tracking Prevention

“Money makes the world go round” is a popular quote, and it makes sense. 

People need money to live, but with money transitioning from physical to digital, online financial security becomes a lot more important. There are a lot of ways to protect your money online

First, download a trustworthy and verified banking app from your bank’s website. Make sure the app is secure, try to find one with two factor authentication, and make a strong password that is not easily guessable. 

Contact Info Tracking Prevention

On an iPhone, you have a list of contacts that you may not want random apps to be tracking. Luckily apple provides a way to stop the apps from tracking your contacts, go to your privacy settings then go to contacts and you can decide which apps can see your contacts. 

The Future of Cybersecurity 

The best way to fight back against all these privacy concerns is to inform yourself and others of the dangers that are in your phone. 

Cybersecurity is a growing industry with the U.S Department of labor saying it will be the 19th fastest growing industry of the next decade. The pay is also great with people making from 84,000 to 120,000 a year depending on the job you get 

These jobs do require education. To get a job a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science is usually required for these types of jobs and a cybersecurity degree would be beneficial to get. But you can do things now to prepare yourself for cybersecurity jobs. 

You should try to take tech and computer science classes and you can also participate in CyberPatriot, a program created by the air force to inspire students towards cybersecurity and other science fields. You should also try to develop certain skills as recommended by Pete Metzger a cybersecurity recruiter “Companies are also looking for employees with project management experience; analytics and data science backgrounds”

Cybersecurity is an important part of daily online life, but it is also an opportunity for career help and securing privacy for many more people.