Not only what you do.

How you do it.

Pattern recognition and online privacy

Do you use VPN? Do you have a Facebook account that doesn’t state your real name and did you make a new mailbox to register there, using a phone number from a SIM card bought without stating your personals?

I know how difficult that sounds already.

The worst thing is that it’s not even enough.

Identity leaks are a collective thing now

It’s the textbook knowledge you read everywhere on the net nowadays: Don’t disclose your personal information just like that. Don’t tell the truth to just anyone who asks nicely — you don’t know who those people are and what they are up to with your data.

That is the absolute basis of online privacy. It’s not building a firewall around you, it’s merely more difficult for bots and crawlers to identify you (no, one doesn’t really need a human to do that).

I am aware that a lot of people still have lazy thinking and issues with that, see the Ashley Madison affair. Having said that, this post might be too many steps ahead its time but just in case it’s stumbled upon by someone who’s into privacy and willing to go the extra mile for it, even if just for the sakes of good practise.

The truth is, the times are changing — it’s not only about what you do but also how you do it.

There was a nice thought in a medium post or somewhere pinpointing how important it is that use of VPN should become the norm. That way someone who uses VPN would no longer look suspicious to their ISP and we could all stay hidden happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is never going to happen.

Once VPN becomes normal it will also become the part of the systems while the check system must inevitably get more advanced again. There even is a mathematical theorem on this but not to be too geeky.

What is the next step?

Maybe a better question would be when will the next step occur. The answer would be the start of it is long gone already.

In 2010 there was an article in the New York Times on how privacy vanishes from the internet. That’s a long time ago. Still, some year or two I recall reading a newspaper article about an app that was just developed. The app was supposed to track your location and analyze patterns of your behavior — that is, to learn your customs. That way the app was then able to foretell your most likely location in any point of time. It was very accurate if it was allowed to track you and your close friends and family too, which makes sense. At that time it was in the newspaper because people got scared and started claiming their rights.

Soon after startups for sharing location on social media emerged, it was hip and people started to publish updates on their location out of their free will.

After that, no one was too much concerned about personal privacy as sharing these things became the norm.

And that is exactly how dox has advanced: You can fake your name on Facebook and log in on VPN but if you make friends with your mate from high school on Facebook, and after that if you get other mates of yours from the same class recommended and you ask them for friendship, you’re very close to being doxed.

It’s the behavioral patterns that matter now.

Do you use a VPN? Is it still the same company? The same IP? Do you have a favorite one? Does it bother you to use it to log in to Google accounts and then switch? Because of that do you just keep it on the whole time?

That is a pattern, my friend.

The thing is to keep it random

If you really care about your privacy, or the bits that are left of it, there is not much more to tell you but the good old “Don’t trust a piece of software with your life”.

You see you can have the best of encryption but you cannot mask the OS you are using, your favorite browser and many other things.

And before I close this topic for now, I know I keep saying that but that also is a reason why encrypted proxies are still valuable in 2015.

If you just casually use proxy, you break your patterns which is the least you can do. It’s not much but it’s something. I have always considered it silly to give someone information about me just because they ask and I am too lazy to do make it so that I don’t have to answer. And I am not even one of these people who try to prepare themselves for the next catastrophy all the time. I am not fan of conspiracy theories — seriously, I am not. To me, at the start, this whole thing was on the level of a grandma figuring out what to do to make the postmen stop delivering her advertisement. It was just this: To stop big companies marketing me. To achieve that, the most elementary thing is not to be lazy.

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Originally published at on August 23, 2015.

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