Internet privacy is a hot topic these days as consumers and businesses alike seek to protect their identities and valuable data from the relentless stream of hackers trying to steal it.
Some, however, still cling to the belief that they are at low risk for becoming a victim because they don’t have anything that a hacker would want.
“People will say, ‘I’m not doing anything illegal. I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t have anything anybody else would want,’” says Ted Kim, COO at London Trust Media Inc. “But that’s not how hackers work. People who really want to steal data will send out massive directives everywhere. The attack will be very broad. If they get a ping, they’ll just focus on that ping and extract as much information as possible.”
In other words, hackers aren’t after you specifically. But that doesn’t mean you’re immune from being violated.
“You don’t have to be doing anything wrong to be the victim of an attack,” Kim says. “It’s nothing personal that you’re doing. But if you leave yourself open to data breaches, it can happen.”
A new report from San Francisco-based Lookout Inc. found 34 percent of mobile users in the U.S. who claimed to be the most aware of privacy risks didn’t even set a PIN or passcode on their phone. And 76 percent of the respondents said they had connected to a public or open Wi-Fi service.
Private Internet Access, a wholly owned subsidiary of London Trust, has become a leader in the virtual private network world by offering a high-powered, high-speed network of servers that protects the privacy of Internet user at the source — the connection. By encrypting a user’s activity, PIA makes a network of servers available to its users, providing maximum security by shielding them from potential hackers.
The company has expanded by more than 2,500 percent in just two years and has more than 3,170 servers in 15 countries.
“Andrew Lee is one of the founders of PIA and he has always had an interest in privacy and security,” Kim says. “He’s been coding pretty much his whole life. As he looked at it, he thought, what are some really practical solutions to some of the problems that exist out there? He really understood from a security standpoint how people and their data could be breached through everyday transmission.”
PIA uses Internet Protocol cloaking, which replaces the real IP address with an anonymous one to keep websites and Internet services from tracking the user, as well as encryption and firewall technology.
The pace of technological change is happening very fast and some may not realize the risks that come with it, if you’re not careful.
“We used to have bank deposit boxes and fireproof safes in our home to secure our important documents,” Kim says. “Now we walk around with them on our phones, tablets or laptops. Everything is more accessible.”
Be aware of the risks
PIA’s target is the individual consumer market rather than the business sector. Kim says the company doesn’t log where its users are going when they are online, which makes it difficult to paint a picture of an average consumer.
“The idea of privacy and security are not demographic issues,” Kim says. “We just assume we have to create a product that is easy to implement and if anybody has any issues with it, we try to be as responsible as we can be. If we abide by that philosophy, we should be able to cover any demographic or potential customer base out there.”
It also serves to back up the message that PIA is trying to convey: If your data doesn’t need to be out there, why expose it?
“Our primary focus is on building out a great consumer experience,” Kim says.
Fortunately, there are protections that individual consumers can take to better protect themselves from being the victim of identity theft or some other digital crime.
“Be vigilant about guarding your privacy and the data you are transmitting online,” Kim says. “If you’re connected using a mobile device, be aware of what the risks are, of what’s being watched, what’s being tracked and what you may have opened yourself up to. Enjoy yourself, utilize technology and let it enhance your life, but just be aware.”
Kim says there are a few questions you should consider when looking at VPN services as an option for your protection.
“If you look at VPN services, is it easy to install?” Kim says. “Do they log information? Is it cost-effective? Does it decrease your performance online? Those are the broader issues that you look at to see what works best for you.” ●
How to reach: Private Internet Access,
www.privateinternetaccess.com; London Trust Media Inc., www.londontrustmedia.com