Who Wins... Security, Privacy Or Anonymity? You decide!

These days, life is like a reality show for all of us. The surge in popularity of social media platforms has resulted in a parralel rise in a variety of threats to our personal security. Knowing what these threats are and the risks they pose to us is of critical importance to understand in the digital age.

Not knowing your threat landscape makes you 'easy pickings' for a computer hacker.

Differentiating between security, privacy and anonymity can be confusing as they often contradict one another. A feature in your browser may scrutinise every website you visit to see if it is on a known malware distribution site. This feature helps security, but can interfere with your privacy and anonymity as the malware distribution sites keep a log of updates on what sites you visit and when.

In situations like this, you need to weigh up what is more important to you. Is it your security, privacy or anonymity? Is it a case of balancing the three? You know your level of tolerance for being tracked online; you know how comfortable you are with idea of your personal information being disclosed over the internet aswell as your behavioural activity. If you are fighting for a political cause or for human rights, a need for total privacy and anonymity from nation states may be such that you need the utmost levels of risk aversion controls. This is a rare case, but that is not to say there is never a need for it. You may just be the average joe who ain't fond of someone reading your emails nor your browser history being revealed. Maybe this, to you is a violation of your privacy. It is... is it?

The spectrum of consequences to disclosure of ones personal information and de-anonymization of ones identity will vary from moderate privacy invasion to a life depending on it. It is worth contemplating how it makes you feel to imagine consequences being realised if your personal information were disclosed on line or your identity were revealed - how this makes you feel is the clear indicator for how risk averse you may need to be.

The level of privacy and anonymity you want is proportionately relative to how much security you are going to need. Do you require privacy over anonymity or the other way around?

Or do you seek an equal measure of the two?

The bigger your need for privacy or anonymity (or both), the more security controls you and your business will require. Making wise decisions for security controls will hinge on your knowledge of the fundamentals of security.

Huw Tremlett

Data Management Consultant

Huw Tremlett