I am reading a lot about internet security at the moment, and while there is a lot of scare mongering and sensationalist stories out there, most of these have more than a grain of truth to them.

Every day we leave a digital trail behind with information about our purchases, our likes and perhaps more disturbingly, our exact location. As technology becomes more pervasive, this information is becoming more and more detailed.

As far as I can tell, our data is not becoming any more secure as technology improves, in fact the opposite may be true – Woolworths leaks $1 million of gift cards in massive data breach debacle

While companies such as Apple and Google take the security of their products and collected data extremely seriously, the complexity of modern software is such that there are, and probably always will be, exploitable vulnerabilities in your iPhone or android device.
Feeling smug that your iPhone can’t be hacked? Not so fast…

As our lives become more and more entwined with our digital devices it is important to understand some of the implications of this and the indisputable fact that your data is being used, whether you are aware of it or not.

When was the last time you perused the fine details of Facebook’s data policy or the privacy policy for the app you downloaded this morning (Apple CEO’s message about your privacy)? I know I haven’t done for a while.

Take for example, Siri, the helpful or not so helpful personality occupying your iPhone. Apple stores any information whispered lovingly to Siri for up to 2 years.
Apple Finally reveals how long Siri Keeps your data

I’m fairly sure that this is not just to fill up Apple’s databases without good reason. This data has a direct value to Apple, even if you were not aware of your personal participation in creating this value.

Yes, it is very convenient to have artificial intelligence on your phone to give you directions to the nearest campsite or bottle shop but the pay off for this convenience is that potentially any number of third parties are also privy to your whereabouts and intentions.

Did you know that the wildly popular app Angry Birds and even the flashlight app on your phone may be storing personal data, including location data about you?
Flashlight app gets away with selling 50 million people’s data illegally

Well, the British and American governments did:
Angry Birds and ‘leaky’ phone apps targeted by NSA and GCHQ for user data

and I’m pretty sure if they can use this information, then there is the potential for this data to be used in many other potentially illegal circumstances.

When it comes to child safety, this is extremely important to bear in mind. It is common knowledge that in our towns and cities, there are individuals that prey on our children.
Third abduction attempt in Perth’s southeast

In many cases criminals are much further ahead in their understanding, use and abuse of technology than we are. Do we really want our children walking about with a virtual location beacon in their pockets, advertising their whereabouts in real time? At the same time as disclosing their location, they could very well be leaking personal details on Facebook and posting their photos on Snapchat without even the slightest understanding of how this information could be used or misused both legally and illegally.
Of course it is not just children who may be unaware of how their online data can be used. Adults, including myself, can also be taken by surprise at how our seemingly trivial online communications can be used. From insurance to fertility clinics, companies are able to paint an increasingly detailed picture of you from your online habits which can be used for questionable purposes.

Data brokers selling lists of rape victims, AIDS patients

Education is the key, and unless we are going to live disconnected lives in the middle of nowhere, it is especially important that we educate ourselves and our families in how our personal data can be used and prudent safety measures that should be taken when interacting with the digital world.

Check out these hints and tips for keeping your family safe:
Protect Yourself: The UPDATE Protocol
Location Services Safety Tips