We are living in a time when the notions of privacy are being re-calibrated. Everything we do leaves a digital trail which can be followed and tracked. We willingly share lots of data on a daily basis, whether on social media, or in phone calls, emails and texts. I recently found out that my phone has a feature by which it tracks how many times I have visited a location, and on what dates and times. It was the default setting on my phone, and I only changed the setting once a friend made me aware of it. So in this hyper-digital age, how do we protect our data?
Here are some things you can do:
1. Password protection
Cliched as it might be, creating a strong password is an important way to protect data. Do not use people’s names that you know or words that have significance to you.
Also, you may want to use password managers like 1Password of LastPass, to help you manage all your different passwords.
Also if there is the option of multi-factor password authentication for a service, you should definitely choose it. What this means is that every time you sign into your account from a different device, you will be asked to verify your identity with a text message or the like.
2. Update all your apps
Did you know that when a new update is available for an app, it is often because the developers have released security updates (or “patches”) to fix bugs that could otherwise give hackers access. Also check privacy settings on all your apps- sometimes you maybe inadvertently sharing information with the public for no reason.
3. Switch Off Your Bluetooth/ Think Before Using Public WiFi
Only switch your bluetooth on when you want to share when you need to use it. Otherwise you will definitely be susceptible to snooping. Also use WiFi in public places only when you have to, because these services don’t prioritise the security of their networks. Loads of articles will tell you just how painfully easy it is to lose all your private information (think banking, passwords, emails) via an unsecured wifi system. There are more advanced tips on how to make the most of those public wifi hotspots.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) December 26, 2016
4. Avoid Cloud Services
Look at what happened to Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe a better idea is to avoid using cloud services for private photos and documents, because anything stored on the cloud is potentially accessible by others. Why not store your data on a hard drive?
You can use apps like Signal which encrypt communication end-to-end. This means that only people involved in the conversation can access them. Whatsapp claims to do this. Remember that users need to be on the same version of Whatsapp for end-to-end encryption to work
6. Browsing the Web Securely
If you are uncomfortable with the fact that your random Google searches and browser history are open to the public, you can use tools such as Tor which will obscure your web activity. But be warned, it can also be a slower experience.