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How online quizzes steal your data and why you should be concerned

Most people love to talk about themselves. Even the emo edgy ones among us occasionally feel the need to inform others of their edgy state of being. Social media in its entirety is based on people’s vanity projects. And one of the largest providers of that vanity is online quizzes. Because we all like to know which brand of toilet paper we are. And there is not much wrong with that. But what if the cost of finding out your designated light-sabre at Hogwarts is your personal information turned into packets of data?

Facebook’s data breach through quizzes

We’re all familiar with the tendency of companies to use data from our internet usage into targeted marketing strategies. Whether the perceived convenience of such practices holds up against ethical code is a different issue. But the discretion with which these tactics collect information that one might not want to share is often frightening.

Just this March, news broke of stolen data collection through Facebook quizzes. While users took a quiz, a browser extension was auto-installed on their computer. This extension siphoned personal data like name, gender and profile picture. And then it resulted in targeted ads that looked like the average Facebook ad. Facebook even filed a lawsuit over this.

Read more: Understanding cybersecurity in a more connected Bangladesh

How you compromise yourself and why it matters

This goes to show just how vulnerable our security is on the internet. Seemingly harmless activities give away information you don’t even know is important. Even less discreet methods; questions on quizzes like “What is your name/gender/etc” can go a long way in compromising your personal safety. The result might seemingly be just targeted ads, which many don’t even mind.

But data like that may result in companies easily being able to categorize your personality index and even subliminal suggestive advertising to make you purchase things you don’t even want. Think about it, did you really ever think you needed those exercise equipment you bought online before you did?

Read more: How your money is at risk and what to do about it

Steps you can take

Knowing about how data is stolen can go a long way in preventing it. Always try to notice what extensions, add-ons or login information any online page asks for. Don’t give out sensitive information or even basic information about yourself. And please try to take these quizzes less often. You can do without knowing what type of onion you are today.

How your money is at risk and what to do about it

Let’s start with a small tale. I watched a guy get scammed on the bus the other day. He got a call from some guy claiming to be a Bkash representative. In a few minutes, he handed over his account details. I tried to stop him as soon as I got wind of what was happening, but it was already too late, and he had handed over his pin number. We can safely assume what followed. 

To many of us, remote transactions are still very hazy. In general, we prefer to exchange via cash. This is in no small part due to the lack of safety over the remote channels available to us; in addition to general inconvenience. Bkash scams are everyday things now. And even if they weren’t, the process of maintaining a Bkash account feels tedious to me. Load up an online wallet with money, pay some money every time you do it. Our banks have made huge strides in making transactions more liquid, but there is still room for improvement. With relatively new technology on the horizon which provides many of the answers we’re looking for; let’s take a look at blockchain

Blockchain, how it works

Simply put, blockchain is a chain of blocks that contain and communicate information. Although its implementation is relatively new, its roots can be traced back to 1991; when it was primarily used as digital timestamps. In 2009, the foundation for use of blockchain as it is today was laid, as it contributed to the creation of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It should be noted that once some data has been recorded in a blockchain, it is nearly impossible to alter. A very simple example of the information in a block would be the basics of a transaction: sender, receiver and amount. Any changes in the block can be traced by changes in its hash; a hash being a sort of digital fingerprint. What this means is a blockchain cannot be created or edited without informing everyone on its related p2p network. This essentially makes blockchain one of the most secure modes of technology.

A more secure future for your bucks?

When you think about it, the money you have remotely; like in bank accounts and mobile wallets, works because it connects to you. Without your identity attached to it, the money belongs to no one. And in that way, your money is under threat via your identity. Blockchain technology ensures your money, your identity and your transaction details are secure. Intermediaries like banks or companies like bkash keep track of your transactions and your money.

Blockchain moves to cut out the middleman and keep your money assigned to you.

In many ways, blockchain currencies are the better option for ownership of money. And with blockchain phones and other technologies on the rise, it may be time to take a look. 

Read more: World’s first Blockchain phone is here. And you can buy it in Bangladesh

This article was intended to remind the readers of the risks and inconveniences of traditional bookkeeping and transaction procedures. In addition, we took a simplified look at blockchain as a possible solution. Stay tuned for more as we explore more on cryptocurrency, blockchain and try to decode the technology behind them in an upcoming series.

Everything you need to know about Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra

We’re all familiar with the term cryptocurrency, and perhaps with its nature too. Cryptocurrency itself didn’t work out as well as expected in the long term. But the concept might be put to good use by none other than Facebook.

How did the crypto hype start?

Cryptocurrency at its peak looked nothing more than a “make money quick” scheme or an electricity bill hazard. But the possibilities such a concept could bring about were left unexplored. A form of currency separate from cash or cards promises added convenience and liquidity and would be the kind of thing we see in sci-fi films. Which is probably why Facebook has decided to adopt a form of cryptocurrency.

How does Libra work?

The Libra cryptocurrency, named after the Roman unit of coin measurement is set to launch in the first half of next year. This is certainly the best-supported effort to bring cryptocurrency technology into the mainstream. As the project is backed by 27 prominent companies, the likes of MasterCard, Uber and Spotify chief among them. The currency sets itself apart from other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin by having a group of major currencies like the US Dollar and the British Pound backing it.  This is sure to bring stability to its value. The major reason for the failure of Bitcoin and others in establishing themselves is the fluctuating values they experience in a short time.

Libra promises to facilitate instantaneous money transfers all over the world and fulfilling the potential the cryptocurrency concept originally had. Facebook will also launch a wallet app named Calibra for use in payments over Messenger and WhatsApp.

The Libra promise

Libra has an association of its backers dubbed the Libra association. Each member exercises equal rights over the product, so Facebook doesn’t necessarily own Libra. Different backers have also implied that they will use their expertise to help the cause in different ways. In addition to a strong group of overseers, Libra also has its value regulated by established currencies. Thus, expectations of its success are very valid. Let’s see how it goes.