Data Security on internet: Steps to follow
Islam has embraced technology in its own course. It has embodied the concept of modernism with the pious tradition of 1400 years. In this embodiment technology plays an important role. Though, in the wake of the recent US data breach incident, data security and data privacy became the main concern of the righteous and devout muslims of the world.
Definitely technology can help us to be at par with our hectic life and religious beliefs. We all know our pious religion helps in creating a ethical framework. It is also a regulator for values in our daily lives. Therefore, an app or a website which helps us to maintain it is a boon from mighty Allah. We should thank him as a Khalifah, as his follower.
Well, after the recent incident, a big question mark has arised! We all understood that in this advanced era of technology privacy is a major concern which everyone should pay regard to.
Privacy is the ideal ethic of life which one needs to follow.
This has been clarified by Almighty Allah in Surah An-Nur, verse 27:
“O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded” [24: 27].
Unfortunately, it is evident that with the advancement of technology we are not that much safe. Surveillance is playing an important role in our lives. We all are mostly data points. For the new world, the information is the currency for the private companies to make lumpsum profits. This data can be sold to the highest bidder who can use it for political agendas, selling his products and what not! We can say privacy is virtually non existent.
One thing we should know, data security and maintaining one’s privacy is one of the basic fundamental rights, both in Islam and modern world.
What is Data security?
Let us take an example, you have searched for a coffee maker on internet. It does not matter if you buy one or not, the next few days you will come across a lot of advertisements about electronic gadgets. But you have searched for a coffee maker only, why is this happening?
There is a magical element called ‘cookie’. Whenever you go to a website, the browser and the server shares a lot of ‘cookies’ among themselves. These cookies are nothing but unique identities. A cookie or HTTP cookie is a small piece of data stored on the user’s computer or smartphone by the web browser while browsing. These cookies actually remember information about your browsing history. The web server now knows what kind of things you searched, it will now optimize and show you the relevant adverts.
In this way data accumulates. Though cookies are harmless, but if an app or browser is not careful and secured enough, your data can be breached. Most likely that is the case happened with the alleged Islamic application. We can say it has failed to accomplish the amana of the users.
A browser or app which is faith based must provide a transparent privacy notice about the data handling and security. Failure of that is nothing but insult to the intelligence of Ummah.
We all should be concerned about our own privacy be it online or offline. It is known now that all information can be bought and sold. The faith based information is raw and undiluted, unwise use of it can cause misdemeanor. Some simple steps can be taken from our side,
Firstly, if an app has a website, we should try to use the website often. It is more secure than using the app.
Secondly, we should take care of the default cookie settings of our browsers. A highest privacy setting is preferred as it won’t allow any targeted cookie to take access of your computer or smartphone.
Thirdly, if you have a budget, investing it to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is beneficiary. You can have a surveillance free access to the net.
Fourthly, always use two factor authentication on your smartphone.
And finally, if you come to know about any service provider is using your data unwisely, take necessary steps. It will be the righteous thing to do as our prophet considered privacy as fundamental right to everyone.
We should take proper care of the privacy of our ummah and we should start building more sustainable application for our own safety.
(Written by Shreya T, freelance journalist)