Hello Facebook Friends and The Rest of the World

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EVERYTHING WE DO ONLINE BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE

So few people seem to care what they post on social networks.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Google+ are free….right?  Ouch!  Wrong.

You’re their asset, and everything you say and do on the Internet is making them and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) a boatload of money.  You know this though.  You’ve heard this time and time again.  But if everyone else is doing it, what the harm? I hear you say.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR POSTS

Maybe you don’t care but you will do, one day.  The consequences of what you post can rise up and grab you by the throat and strangle you out of that second mortgage, a car lease, or even child adoption.

Let’s start with one field-“HEALTH”. I’m flabbergasted at the number of people who post about every ache and pain, every doctor’s visit, wisdom tooth, back ache, headache, and migraine.  Don’t they understand that if they are lucky to have company insurance, even if it’s through a spouse or partner’s company, someone in the company may eventually decide you are costing them way too much.  Could this be Bye Bye Job?

And what about that looming mid life? By the time you get to 55, if you work for a medium or large size IT company (sorry IT but admit it’s fairly common), there is the possibility your may be one of those people who gets a pink slip at reorg time.  It is a very stressful time for employees.  I know of several people in their fifties who have been offered a deal which really is non-negotiable, or have just been let go, only to be rehired back by a third party for the same company a few weeks later.  This time without any benefits. And they are the lucky ones.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

Here are a few tips.  It’s a bit tongue in cheek but may be worth considering.

Go ahead and post really fit, active stuff like hiking, yachting, cycling – anything that is physical and get those photos uploaded.  Boast about it on social media.

Never make any comments about your health, like blood pressure, aching backs, Type 2 Diabetes, exhaustion, etc. You get the picture?

Don’t make comments about your spouse or partner’s blood pressure, aching back, exhaustion, Type 2 Diabetes, etc.

Get out and about with more people from your business or organization.  You don’t have to grovel if you are good at your job. You would be surprised how many people can make recommendations to management that you are a team player and it wouldn’t benefit them to lose you from their team.

ISPs will be able to "draw a map" of where families shop and go to school, detect health information by seeing which illnesses they use the Internet to gather information on, and build profiles of customers' listening and viewing history.

What if you have been having medical treatment and you don’t want any sneaky ISP to get hold of your data? 

In order to check your medical records, you’ve been accessing these by logging into your patient portal from your computer. 

This is one thing I have a serious problem with.  Now that the Senate has granted ISPs the ability to data mine your browsing history for advert purposes (see link on article below) I am really nervous about this.


We shouldn’t forget that the ISPs have had access to our browsing data since inception.  Now it’s legal for ISPs to make money off you.  Well, apparently from December 4, 2017, but who is counting!

Your medical provider has your records in a database and on a server, somewhere.  Have you ever asked how your medical provider accesses them?  Are they on their server, or a separate hosting server through another company? Do they know if your  patient information is safe? How do they secure it?

You can’t really get annoyed with your medical practitioner because they probably know less about this stuff than you do.  But as a patient you do have a right to ask them and you should…….nicely though.

We are all stuck between a rock and a hard place.  At the very least you can limit the number of Internet Service Providers who are accessing your personal data (Thank You Senate).  This website and article offers some suggestions to protect your browsing history from ISPs such as using VPN, Tor or HTTPS Everywhere.  Me, if I need to see any results, I run into the doctor’s office and ask for a print out.

It is a constant struggle and most of the time I find it a losing battle. I would though recommend getting a VPN. There are some really slick, professional VPNs that protect your cell, tablet and PC or Mac in one account. I’m hoping mine continues to protect my history.

I’ve only had one issue with the VPN.

I’ve been attending a few meetings at various IT locations and get blocked from the company’s wireless access because they don’t like my VPN.  That’s fine with me.  There are several reasons one of which could be that when I access their wireless network I could be offloading some creepy Trojan or Ransomware.  I can understand their reticence.  But I can also do without their wireless for a while because it could work both ways.  I really don’t want them accessing my stuff on my computer.

SO DISAGREE WITH ME

There are many who will not like this information to get out.  Can you imagine if every person in the world protected their browser history? Those poor ISPs would never make any money off you. Then someone will come along and devise a cunning code to bypass this protection.

I don’t mind if people don’t believe this but my final memory is working in an IT department and being introduced to a past employee who came by for a visit.  In the Rec Room he handed out cards with his new company information. They were looking for programmers.  They were devising code that could identify patient health issues which could be passed on to other organizations.  Every programmer in the room walked away including myself. That was many years ago but I still think about it.

On another occasion while attending a meeting with a big IT provider, one of their manager’s suggested I only use a private browser whenever online…..with a proviso – that it ‘sort of’ secures your history here but there is nothing you can do about your ISP or, for that matter, their wireless access.  Data is invisible to most people. The concept of your personal data being bought and sold hundreds of thousands of times over and over is difficult for most to get their heads around.  But it’s true.

FINALLY

If you get laid off but really can’t stop work, start your own business.  At 55 you can join AARP.  They even have job sites which include many great companies who are looking for people like you.  You have decades of worthwhile skills, experience and determination that younger individuals don’t possess. And many companies are searching for employees with just such skills. And your wealth of knowledge.

Good Luck!

Steph Dickson has had 25 years experience in IT. Starting her career in Database Management Systems, IT training, Web Development and Web Multimedia Development including UX Design. “I never stop learning”, she says. She regularly attends online courses in improving her UX design skills and online security.

 

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