Going online has never been easier that it is today. Nearly 40 percent of the world population has some form of internet access. This dramatic growth in internet use means that more and more of us are now using computers or internet-enabled mobile devices at home, school or work. A recent report by Cisco Systems Inc predicted that global Internet traffic will rise 4-fold between 2010 and 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 32%. They even forecast that there will be 15 billion network-connected devices in the world by 2015, double the world’s population.
Social network use is also up, even at work. According to ZDnet.com, “Despite the well-known security risks associated with services like Facebook and Twitter, social networking usage in business is becoming even more active, according to a new report from Palo Alto Networks.”
Their warnings echo that of Enrique De Argaez, CEO of Internet World Stats and webmaster of the IWS website. In a cautionary article about “adware” and “spyware,” he explained the various ways these programs can be loaded unto computers from the internet, often unknown to users.
“These malware programs often change browser settings, alter system files and create new default Web pages … Scores of useless and annoying websites can be added to your “favorites” folders without you having selected them!”
He added, “Typically, malware will also collect personal information from users’ systems regarding their Web activities, transferring it to advertising and data-research companies. These companies determine the websites that users frequent and employ the information to tailor the ads they send to individual users. Several malware programs even regularly update their own program codes on infected computers…”
Jen Rhee, a social media enthusiast who graduated with a communications and journalism degree from University of Washington, has gone a step further. She did research which shows that we have practically no control over how our personal data is used online. Moreover, her findings suggest that companies, including some of the world’s biggest corporations, are mining users’ personal information and sharing it with other companies, more often than we realize. She has put it all in a neat infographic for easy reading and it’s well worth checking out.