The internet has become so deeply woven into the fabric of our lives that for many of us, it’s hard to imagine life without it. Deprive most people under the age of 30 of Wifi access for more than a few days and they start to go into withdrawal (no, seriously). We, as a society have become addicted to the convenience that the digital world brings to our lives.
It’s revolutionized the way in which we shop, work, do business and entertain ourselves. But as proficient as we have become at using the internet, many of us have no idea how vulnerable we are when we are online. We don’t understand the information that we lay bare for anyone with a mind to look for it.
The good news is that it’s easy for you to access this information to improve and tweak your browsing experience… The bad news is that you’re not necessarily the only one who can access this information.
Here we’ll look at some of the surprising things that the internet may know about you… Whether you’re aware of it or not!
Where you live
Ever wondered why when you ask Google for restaurant recommendations, it brings you local search results, regardless of your search settings? That’s because you’ve given the search engine access to your IP address. Your IP address is essentially the address of your internet router and from it virtually anyone on the internet can view its (approximate) location and extrapolate where you live.
Don’t worry, your IP address doesn’t give away your physical address but this still provides food for thought. “How do I hide my IP address?” you ask. There are a range of solutions to enable you to keep your IP address secret.
You could use a private IP address but this can be expensive and high maintenance. You could use a private browser like Tor (which is secure and anonymous but extremely slow-even over fast networks). The most efficient solution, however is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This uses heavy duty encryption to hide your IP address from prying eyes.
Your internet speed
Have you ever wondered whether you’re really getting your money’s worth out of your expensive 1GB fibre optic broadband?
The good news is that you can use a wide range of online tools to check your internet speed in real terms. They estimate this by sending HTTP requests to the speed test’s server and measuring how long it takes for the response to come through. By doing this they can accurately measure upload, download and pingback speeds.
Who owns your website
If you own a website, you may think that this offers you a degree of anonymity, a safe space from which you can post your views on your blog or sell your wares online.
And while the digital marketplace is a great place to do both, you may not be as anonymous online as you think. There exist services like Whois which can provide anyone who asks with information on your website including the domain registrar, creation date and date last updated.
What you’ve been posting on social media
Social media gives us all inter-connectivity on a scale hitherto only dreamed of. Unfortunately, many use it as a space in which they feel they can make scathing remarks with anonymity and impunity. However, even if you have the sweetest disposition in the world online, you should still be wary before you click that send button. According to Forbes “Twitter has gone over users’ “profile and activity” to determine what interests they have”.
Like Santa, Twitter knows if you’ve been bad or good (so be good for goodness’ sake!).
So, by all means go about your merry business online, just be wary of what the internet (and other users) can see!