Use Protection…Online

As we all use the iMessages, Gmail services, and social media platforms on a daily basis, we feel comfortable with exchanging information and personal data through the convenience of one’s personal laptop, iPhone, or other smart devices. However, what if your personal information is not as secure as you think it is? To explore this further, I watched a video about metadata and the hacking of one’s personal information called “Inside Hacking Team.” The video touched upon the insecurity of one’s email, and how outside hackers can synthesize information to learn more about one’s activities and daily life. Your personal information can be hacked through email metadata. Email metadata can reveal when you send your email, the subject of your email, the recipient, and sometimes the recipient’s IP address. Through metadata analysis and pattern analysis, one’s daily habits and schedule can be inferred, thereby breaching your privacy. This informational video ignites questioning as to how personal our emails should be. Should we restrain the content of our emails because of metadata analysis/hacking? Do we have a choice or alternative when an email MUST be sent? Paradoxically, we know we should not reveal personal information through email as learned in this video, however, I do not believe this fact will prevent me from doing so when I and faced in a situation involving the communication to a teacher or family member; because ultimately, the message must be sent.

To explore this obligatory phenomenon further, I came across a tool used for Android devices to learn more about an alternative service to the Android phone. I decided to review this Android feature to broaden my horizons since I usually read about Apple extensions and applications. Android offers an application called “Conversations,” that is available for purchase on the Google Play Store. This extension allows for users to access the OTR protocol for the encryption of their conversations and messages to ensure the identity of the person they are messaging. In addition, you can select a reliable server while you message friends that are using other servers. The communication is TLS encrypted on the user’s server to promote the safety of your messages from outside attackers. This encryption prevents a hacker from gaining your personal information from metadata without breaching your server first. Not only does this application provide a safe service for messaging, but it also has additional features such as message confirmation, read and delivery receipts, and the option to have a contact photo or avatar. Additionally, an aspect that makes this application especially attractive is its low impact on battery life. Conversations is an application that is extremely helpful for Android customers, and the company accepts donations to promote free and open source software to the community. They made the entire source code available to the public under the GPLv3 license. After reading about this application, I am excited to see what Apple has to offer in terms of private and safe messaging extensions in the future.

As I am starting to familiarize myself with the importance of privacy and protection of my personal information on my laptop and mobile device, I recently created a Twitter account for my first-year class, and I am intrigued to learn about the safety features of this social media platform. There is a Twitter guide on the “Me and My Shadow” website, that explains all the “ins and outs” of being a responsible Twitter user. One aspect of Twitter that I learned was the difference between using the social media application on a browser and on a mobile phone. On the browser and mobile phone, you can certify photo tagging protection, tweet privacy, and (check/uncheck) the email linkage to Twitter. However, only on your browser you can enable or disable your Tweets’ location. In addition, the guide explains how to create an anonymous Twitter profile. When creating an anonymous Twitter profile, using your browser rather than your mobile phone allows you to avoid releasing your phone number in the account settings. However, when creating the account on a browser, Twitter has access to your personal information, your IP address, and data from the cookies in your browser. To further ensure your privacy and safety while using this social media platform, the guide advises limiting third-party linkage. Hence, one should not connect other social media accounts to their Twitter account. This guide also advises to delete your location information from past Tweets and to be aware that Twitter saves all messages even if they are deleted. It is also recommended to have login verification to your Twitter account.

It was extremely informative and interesting to learn from these information videos, guides, and tools about online safety and protection of personal data. It is important to educate the public on topics such as hacking, and internet safety to further prevent the breaching of one’s privacy.


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