What would be considered private within modern technology? Whether it’s keeping your personal data private on social media, an individual’s privacy is one of the few uncertainties within the 21st century. Or is it?
Technology is growing at an unprecedented rate every second. With technology being created faster than it can be protected, there’s no surprise that personal data is at risk of being compromised. Let’s be honest. Data is not only at-risk, but it’s stolen and sold for pennies.
The only instance in which an individual can receive total isolation is the moment they take their first breath. Once the individual is put on record, they run the risk of having their information stolen. No matter their social ranking, everyday users serve the risk of having their data open to unwanted individuals. So with data continuously growing, the true question remains.
How can I protect my personal data?
To add to our original post on this topic, 6 Smart Ways to Protect Your Personal Data Online, here are five more ways to protect your personal data privacy:
1. Avoid Entering Personal Information
The easiest way an individual can achieve data privacy is to avoid sharing personal information on the internet. This information can range from names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, social security information, bank numbers, and credit card numbers. Once the information touches the wrong pair of hands, an individual’s privacy becomes compromised. Attackers can steal the identity of the victim and use it to their advantage.
It’s difficult to determine which websites are safe, especially given all the data breaches happening daily to large companies and governments.
T-Mobile had a massive data breach that exposed at least 50 million. The data stolen primarily included individuals who applied for accounts with T-Mobile and provided the information for credit checks. That means that even people who didn’t become T-Mobile customers are likely affected despite not having a T-Mobile account.
Moral of the story is that you should always avoid entering your information anywhere whenever possible.
The #1 Rule of Personal Data Protection:
So always remember the number one rule: never share incriminating information. If information must be shared, always ensure the information is going to a credible source such as a banking agencies, government resources, or colleges. Keep sharing personal information with a limited few. Less is always more when it comes to personal information.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Another easy and condensed method to protect personal data is to use strong, and enhanced passwords. We mentioned in our original post that using strong passwords was not enough and tghat is still true, but it’s still very important.
Make sure you use special characters or symbols in the passwords, as well as upper and lowercase letters. Simple, obvious words would only take seconds to crack. Change letters to numbers. For example, change Sunny to S0nn!e. Always include a random string of numbers that hold little significance, such as S0nn!e72D1. Randomize the password to ensure longevity and strength, and avoid using the same password twice. Think of your password as a phrase and not a single word.
3. Be Wary of Uploading Images
The common phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, holds true to personal data leakage. An image can reveal a handful of incriminating information, which can expose personal data for others to compromise. Images can reveal items such as appearance, location, interest, phone brand, car brand. An image’s metadata can expose flash time, exposure time, the distance of the object, phone make and brand. And with advancing technology, it’s becoming increasingly possible to extract sounds from images.
Some programs can take an individuals’ face and use it to create a deepfake. A deepfake is when a victim’s face is taken and implemented onto other faces to make it appear that the victim is doing something they’re not. Deepfakes are typically hard to catch and can result in complications with the victim.
4. Use Credible Software
Always dedicate your time to software that is credible and trusted. When visiting sites, block your cookies. While cookies may not be harmful, the sites can take the data stored in cookies and learn information such as interests, names, and locations. This is how personalized ads are targeted. When downloading files, ensure that each downloaded file is trusted. Files can be tested using a variety of malware sites. Files may appear true to their word, though many have sinister folders that can secretly take personal information.
Another method for privacy protection is to ensure that all programs and software are up to date. A program that isn’t updated can result in cyber-attackers or personal data being leaked because the program is unstable.
Use a tool like ExpressVPN to hide your IP address and encrypt your network data so no one can see what you’re doing.
DuckDuckGo works as a drop-in replacement for your default search engine. Searches do not leak to other websites and this engine does not record search information. But beware the ads are supported by Microsoft so while the searches may be privacy safe, clicking on the ads may not be. DuckDuckGo is also compatible with Orbot, so you can hide your location from the sites you visit, too.
5. Understand Common Attack Methods
The most common technique for leaking personal information is cyber-phishing. Phishing is the process of an attacker luring a victim through legitimate institutions with the intent to steal their personal information. Understanding common attack methods can help ensure data protection.
Avoid interacting with sketchy links and ads. An easy way to check if a link is safe is by looking at the web address. If the address begins with HTTP, the website is unsafe. HTTP means Hypertext Transfer Protocol. If the address begins with HTTPS, it’s typically safe. The S stands for secure and is reserved for approved websites.
When receiving emails or text messages, avoid responding or clicking any links sent. If these emails or messages asking for personal information such as social security numbers, addresses, or passwords, don’t respond. Approved institutions will not ask for this information.
When receiving phone calls that appear to be a scam, hang up the phone without responding. Responding to their questions or saying a simple word can result in scammers securing an individual’s voice and manipulating it to their advantage.
Remain aware of any suspicious activity which may occur in bank statements or accounts. Stay up to date with emails and change passwords regularly. If there’s suspicion of compromised data, contact the FBI Internet Complaint Center so they may refer you to the right agency.
The internet is a vast world filled with both good and bad actors. Much like the real world, preventing theft is impossible. However, there are methods which can be taken to ensure that personal data is kept private and secure. The golden rule of the internet is to avoid posting personal, incriminating information which an individual doesn’t want to be exposed. Once an item is posted, it can never be removed. While it can be deleted, the data from the item will remain located on a network. Individuals can access this network and take the information from the deleted post and can continue to risk personal data privacy.
It’s impossible to achieve true privacy on the internet, and having personal data leaked isn’t uncommon. From simply visiting a website or entering a name, any information can be taken in a matter of moments. The easiest way for an individual to protect their data is by being aware of the information they share and the sites they visit.
Do you want to protect your personal data? Do you want to control what information is released and what information you receive? Pre-register for Ctrl.ly to control your data privacy. Join the movement to put data privacy back in your hands.