04/11/2016 09:56 GMT | Updated 04/11/2017 05:12 GMT

Only Celebrities Should Worry About Online Security And Privacy, Right?

Yes, common internet users like me and you have a very limited social circle and we value that over anything else. Having said that, would you still take the risk of not ensuring your privacy and anonymity online?

'Thankfully! I Am Not a Celebrity: I Shouldn't Be Bothered About Online Security & Privacy'~ A Common Myth

No matter how enticing the online world is, it's still full of countless threats and dangers. Cyber threats have been on the rise, and more so with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). We get to hear this so often that celebrities are ridiculously easier to hack. One of the most common concerns is the kind of security questions websites ask to recover a password. These are probably known to many as the information can be found on various internet sources such as blogs, celebrity biographies, social media fan pages etc.

Few questions that are frequently asked when you try to recover a password:

  • What was your childhood nickname?
  • Who was your best friend in high school?
  • And when is your birthday?

Don't you think such information can be easily available on the internet? This made many celebrities lose their privacy and several photos have been leaked in various attempts during last four years as reported by BBC, Fortune, Huffington Post, and CNET etc.

Interestingly, Intel published a list of top 10 most dangerous celebrities' searches from this year's study:

This means if you search Amy Schumer on the internet then the probability of connecting to a malicious website would be 16.11%. Similar study also indicates 33% risk exposure if you search this query 'Amy Schumer Torrent'. This reveals the fact that not only celebrities but their fans are also exposed to cyber threats & malicious activities.

With no disregard to the celebrities, here comes my question to the students, employees and every common internet user:

  • 'What is at stake if your online security & privacy gets compromised?'
  • 'What if your personal photos with your wife gets leaked?'
  • 'Who will be there for a common internet user like you?'

'Perhaps no one and no one will ever be there for you'. Even, state agencies might get the culprit but cannot mend the loss caused to your privacy. Celebrities might have a PR team to help them recover from such an incident but you cannot afford that. Yes, common internet users like me and you have a very limited social circle and we value that over anything else. Having said that, would you still take the risk of not ensuring your privacy and anonymity online?

Are you bothered now? If yes then here are some useful techniques to ensure online security & privacy for internet users:

  • Take Online Security & Privacy Seriously: Obviously, the first thing we need is an intent to take security & privacy concerns sternly i.e. 'Be Aware, Be Vigilant, Pay Attention'
  • Keep Your OS and Programs Updated: I would strongly recommend that you update your operating system on a standard basis with the latest security patches, updates, and drivers. This will make sure that your device is up-to-date and will help keep it safe from viruses and other security threats.
  • Use A VPN: A VPN secures your computer's internet connection to guarantee that all of the data you're sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes. It also gives you complete online freedom by hiding your original IP address. So, while a VPN keeps your online data safe, it also lets you surf without any restraints.
  • Use Antivirus: The real benefit of anti-virus protection is directly related to the consequences of not having anti-virus software. An antivirus keeps viruses from entering your system and damaging your data. However, make sure that virus definitions are updated to the latest version available.
  • Use Anti Spyware and Anti Malware: Spyware and malware are two types of viruses, hackers use to infiltrate devices and gather data. Spyware can steal all your personal information stored on your computer. This can include financial data, passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers and anything else the spyware can detect. Whereas, malwares are computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransom ware, and other malicious programs. Therefore it is necessary to have anti-spyware and anti-malware installed on your device.
  • Be Very Cautious While Using Public Wi-Fi: Free public Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient, but security can be an issue. How to minimize the risk? The answer is a VPN, whether you use a laptop, smart-phone, or tablet. A VPN at all times keep you anonymous and ensures secured access to internet through Public Wi-Fi and several other devices.
  • Choose Strong Passwords: this security measure was well answered by 'Schneier Scheme':

If you want your password to be hard to guess, you should choose something that this process will miss. My advice is to take a sentence and turn it into a password. Something like "This little cat went to market" might become 'tlcWENT2m'. That nine-character password won't be in anyone's dictionary. Of course, don't use this one, because I've written about it. Choose your own sentence -- something personal.

Also make sure to utilize 2-Factor Authentication for your online accounts.

  • Stop Trusting Cloud Services: As discussed, most of the celebrities suffered due to a massive data breach on famous cloud services like iClound and Dropbox. So it is better not to store any personal images or documents, if you want to keep them covert. Learn More:Why you shouldn't trust cloud service providers?.

Your data will always be important to you regardless of your status; celebrity or no celebrity, online security & privacy is essential. You may not have been exposed to cyber threats yet but still your vigilance and proactive measures can help you avoid such incidents in future. Stay Safe!!!