Digital Privacy and Security: An Introduction

Don’t shy away. It’s a beginner-friendly guide.

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The message is out. Your digital life is not private anymore; not safe anymore.

Governments are watching you, companies are tracking you, and hackers are stealing your data. If these lines sound like a social media post of a conspiracy theorist, answer the following three questions:

  • Meta, Google, and Amazon – how much personal information do these three companies have on you?
  • For some reason, a hacker sitting in Israel makes it the mission of his life to ruin you. How much do you think he can harm you? Can he steal your money? Can he steal your online identity? Can he know your most intimate secrets?
  • If the government of your country wants to observe you without getting near to you, how much do you think it can know about you given that you keep your smartphone 24*7 near your body?

Don’t read further. Take a pen and paper, or open a digital notepad and answer these questions. Don’t skip saying ‘yeah, yeah, I know’. Please write down the answers, so you can understand how serious the situation is.

What’s the next step?

If you are like most of my friends, your first reaction after writing the answers is – that’s scary

Yes. It is scary. But it doesn’t need to be.

Just like all technologies, the internet in itself is neutral. You can use it in a way that benefits you. Or you can use it in a way that harms you.

You can think of your internet use as a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum are privacy and security, and on the other end are shady people doing shady things. I don’t know where you stand on the spectrum, but your goal should be moving toward the safer end.

And how will you do it? 


The bad actors (some governments, some companies, and unethical hackers) benefit from ignorance. 

Generally, people learn only enough about the internet that they can use social media apps, get answers on Google, and tinker with a few apps. Anything more than that is too much.

But if you want to be digitally private and secure, you need to learn a few basic things. Not too much, just the basics. 

Let’s start with definitions first.

What is Digital Privacy?

You do a lot of things online. You chat with your friends. You watch stuff – some family-friendly, some not-so-family-friendly. You order pizzas. You search the photos of your new celebrity crush. The list goes on and on…

You almost live a second life in the wires that run around the planet. And the wires have Billions of other people living their second lives.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that there are only three people on earth who use the internet – you, Mr. X, and Miss Y. 

Digital privacy is your right to show Mr. X that you ordered Pizza yesterday, but not show that you are chatting with your ex. Digital privacy is your right to show Miss Y that you are watching a documentary on Eccentric Billionaires, but not show her that Hiroyuki Sanada is your new crush. 

Digital privacy is the right to show or hide parts of your digital life at your will.

When someone does not respect your digital privacy, they try to observe your online activities without your consent (think of a company or a government). 

What is Online Security?

Imagine any activity that you do on the internet. It definitely has something to do with data.

  • Uploading a picture on social media? It involves data.
  • Sending money to your younger sister? It involves data.
  • Storing your documents in the cloud? It involves…

Online security is the act of protecting your data. 

There are people out there who actively do things to steal your data and use it against you. With the stolen data, they can harm your reputation or steal your money. 

Take Small Steps

You just learned the meaning of digital privacy and online security. 


That’s one step towards internet safety. Keep taking such small steps and the next thing you will know is that your answers to the above-mentioned three questions are completely changed. 

The next step is knowing the difference between digital privacy and online security. 

Read next: The Main Difference Between Digital Privacy & Online Security


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