Privacy and Security

IN Resources | 14/09/2012
1) Are your chats private on Facebook?
Your chats are not entirely private. Facebook recently announced that they have a scanning software that scans across users’ chats  for words or phrases that might signify criminal activity. If the software notices exchange of some suspicious words, then it notifies Facebook immediately.
 
2) Are your chats private on Gmail?
The chats on Gmail chat are private in the sense that there is no employee scanning your conversations online. However, Gmail does have a technology which scans your conversation and accordingly posts targetted ads based on keywords used in your chat conversation/email. Gmail calls this intuitive advertising.
 
3) What happens after your account on Facebook is deleted?
If you delete your account on Facebook, all your personal information including your profile details, things you upload etc. will be removed. You won’t be able to access your account. However, Facebook does store some of your personal material including photos, notes etc. which wouldn’t be accessible to general users. 
 
 
4) What happens when you deactivate your Facebook account?
Deactivation is different from deletion. When you deactivate your account, your account disappears from Facebook. People might not be able to access you on Facebook. Deactivation gives you a choice to come back with your past details including timeline, photos, notes, intact.
 
5) What is tracking?
Tracking involves different processes that websites, advertisers use to learn about your web browsing behaviour. Your browsing behaviour includes details of sites you visit, things you like, dislike and purchase. They then use this information to show ads, products or services specifically targeted to you.
 
6) What is a tracking cookie? Why should I know what it is all about?
Tracking cookies are text files stored in your computer by websites, advertisers or third parties. The text file contains detailed information about your surfing habits. The tracking process is undertaken with help of tracking cookies.
 
7) Which browser should you use if you want to avoid tracking?
Apple’s Safari blocks tracking by default. Mozilla Firefox has a ‘Do not track’ option, which can be checked by the users. Chrome does not have such an option yet. You can also install add-ons on Firefox browser like ‘Do not track plus’, which prevent you from being tracked online.  
 
8) Why should you be careful while installing an app on your mobile phone or playing a game on Facebook?
Some third party apps can have total access to your data, profile information, photographs, details of your friends among others. Please be aware that this is often a pre condition for you to be able to use their app. So, it is always helpful to read the permissions before the installation of the app.
 
9) Can your employer know about your net surfing behaviour?
Yes. Your company will have the technical means to accurately know your surfing behaviour. This means she can know about every email read, sent and websites that you have visited. It is best to keep your personal life away from your work computer.
 
10)  How to find if your images have been copied elsewhere on the Internet?
Google’s image search is a useful tool to use to find where your image has been used on the Internet. You can also use an add-on on your Firefox browser.  Using this add on you can find  source of an image, how it is used, or find higher resolution versions via Google Reverse Image search.
 
11) What is encrypted search? Why should one opt for it?
A search engine is said to encrypt its search when the url starts with HTTPS and you see a lock icon on the address bar. An encrypted search prevents a third party from snooping in your details pertaining to your internet activity.
 
Encrypted search is enabled through SSL  (Secure Sockets Layer). SSL is a protocol that helps in to secure internet communications activity like web browsing, email, instant messaging and data transfers.
 
With HTTPS on, the only detail an eavesdropper can get is that you are using Google search. When you search over SSL, your search queries and search traffic are encrypted so that tracking companies or other third parties cannot see what you are searching over the Internet and the search results.
 
When not using SSL, an internet user is vulnerable to having their internet activity including web search details, e-mail and web traffic read by those who control the network. Also if the user is using an open Wi-Fi connection, their web activity can be easily accessed by a hacker using simple tools.
 
12) Which are the major search engines that have activated encrypted search?
At present, Google is one of the main search engines that have introduced the provision of encrypted search.
 
13) How to activate encrypted search on Google?
If you are signed into Gmail, encrypted search is on by default. Firefox enables encrypted search by default for its users who use Google search. Alternatively one can use www.encrypted.google.com as their homepage. Encrypted search on Google does not stop your data from being sent to Google. It only prevents your data from being accessed by third parties who seek it for various commercial purposes.
 
However, there is still a loophole in this whole process. If you happen to click on an ad appearing on the encrypted search page, the encryption is removed and the advertisers can know about your internet activity.
 
14) Are there any search engines that does not collect your data?
Duckduckgo is a search engine that claims to not track and record users’ browsing behaviour.
 
Startpage is another search engine that claims not to track users at all. It claims that it removes all personally identifiable information and then submits the search query to Google, subsequently returning Google’s search results “in total privacy.”
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