VPN – Ways To Bolster Web Privacy

Cloud VPN

Looking at cloud VPN (virtual private networks) as a way to bolster web privacy. Have you ever had the slightly unnerving experience of browsing on a brand’s website or interacting with a company online, only to find a few hours later that the brand is now all over your social media channels, and is targeting ads at you as if it knows exactly who you are? Most of us have had that experience and are almost reaching a point where we take it for granted.

The collection of metadata and the tracking of a user’s browsing history has become an extremely sophisticated business, but a flurry of court decisions in recent weeks may be turning the tide and about to put the brakes on the ambitions of corporations and the seemingly inevitable march away from privacy.

A US federal court ruled in early November that a warrant might be required before a user’s browsing history can be tracked, while almost simultaneously in Belgium, a commercial court ruled that Facebook must stop collecting a user’s browsing history when the user is not logged in.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “The Belgian Privacy Commission had brought the case against Facebook in June, accusing the company of raking in personal data of its users as well as nonmembers without asking for consent or adequately explaining how the data would be used. At issue for the regulator is how Facebook tracks Internet users on external websites through the use of “like” and “share” buttons.”

Both rulings tap into a growing sense of unease amongst consumers about how far they are prepared to go in allowing corporations to monitor their online activity with a goal to targeting products and advertising at them. And it’s not just on the web either where this is happening. Non-profit investigative newsroom ProPublica reports that “Vizio’s Smart TVs track your viewing habits and share it with advertisers, who can then find you on your phone and other devices.” It’s one of the tradeoffs that Vizio justifies as a way to generate revenue while keeping the prices of their hardware more affordable. It’s not just Vizio doing the watching, but the way its tracking behavior is set up is more aggressive than companies like Samsung and LG. both of which track viewing habits only when that feature is specifically turned on.

In its ruling around data collection, the US Federal Court draws some important distinctions that could have far reaching implications for both Government and big business; arguing that it’s not just content that cannot be tracked but URLs as well. This makes sense, due to the fact that it’s easy to see how a specific URL can tell a company as much as the content on that page can do. “A visit to “webmd.com,” for Instance, might count as metadata, as Cato Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez explains. But a visit to “www.webmd.com/family-pregnancy” clearly reveals something about the visitor’s communications with WebMD, not just the fact of the visit,” writes Andy Greenberg for Wired magazine.

A compromise position needs to be found between governments, large corporations and users where the various parties can agree on the level of access that is acceptable in a world rapidly automating and where the ‘’internet of things’’ looms closer everyday with its potential to make our lives infinitely easier at the risk of our threatened privacy.

Stay tuned as we will touch on a number of cloud VPN services in a future update.

By Jeremy Daniel

MIT
Smart Manufacturing Startups AI and machine learning's potential to drive greater visibility, control, and insight across shop floors while monitoring machines and processes in real-time continue to attract venture capital. $62 billion is now invested ...
Gary Taylor
Hybrid Worker Risks Organizations are under pressure to secure their remote workers, but they are also worried about the potential impact on user experience. Can they have it both ways without compromise? The pandemic has ...
Dinesh Varadharajan
The Future with Automation Many entrepreneurs believe digital technologies will transform the way their companies work. By 2022, the worldwide hyper-automation technology market is expected to be worth $596.6 billion. And by 2055, almost half ...
The all-new Stellar Repair for MS SQL – an Efficient Tool to Fix SQL Database Corruption
Efficient Tool to Fix SQL Database Corruption SQL database corruption is not uncommon. There are many reasons for SQL database corruption, such as virus infection, bugs in the SQL Server, errors during updates, abrupt system ...
Bi Tools
BI Tools For Data Scientists Many data scientists prefer to use open-source framework to code scripts; after all, it’s something they already trust to work. Business intelligence tools like Qlik Sense, Power BI, or Tableau, ...

SECURITY TRAINING

  • Isc2

    ISC2

    (ISC)² provides IT training, certifications, and exams that run online, on your premises, or in classrooms. Self-study resources are available. You can also train groups of 10 or more of your employees. If you want a job in cybersecurity, this is the route to take.

  • App Academy

    App Academy

    Immersive software engineering programs. No experience required. Pay $0 until you're hired. Join an online info session to learn more

  • Cybrary

    Cybrary

    CYBRARY Open source Cyber Security learning. Free for everyone, forever. The world's largest cyber security community. Cybrary provides free IT training and paid IT certificates. Courses for beginners, intermediates, and advanced users are available.

  • Plural Site

    Pluralsite

    Pluralsight provides online courses on popular programming languages and developer tools. Other courses cover fields such as IT security best practices, server infrastructure, and virtualization.