Every month we hear about a company that had a data breach. And each time this happens reminds us just how important it is to keep our personal data secure. If your data are breached, you can feel vulnerable and this is not good for your karma. In this post let’s look how to drastically improve your data security. Let’s go!
The big picture
Quite often we do not realize the amount of data we leave accessible online. It starts with your name, then it becomes your location, next is your hobbies/ interest, and then it’s your password and the security questions you set up for your bank’s website .
Do you know that all of that can be deduced by checking your online activity? All these small details about your life on various social media accounts give a very large clear picture of you. So how to secure it and what can be done?
#1 Social media
Social media is a great way to stay connected with family, friends and network. Did you set your preferences on the content you share and who you share it with? Review your accounts to see if there are settings that can be added to improve your account privacy and security.
Social media are so fun that quite often we loose the habit to monitor what happen with our accounts. This is why monitoring what happen on your accounts is mandatory. Good habits online take time to be acquired. But once you have it down you are doing what you need to keep your personal data secure. Here are some tips to help you limit the amount of data you share and make hacking your accounts harder.
- Photos: When you share photos, you can crop out or blur details in the background that show your exact location. Be careful to not reveal information that permits to answer to your security questions. Remove details of your house from your photos. Limit the amount of information publicly available on your social media accounts.
- Links: don’t click on links if you’re not sure what it links to or what the source is. Cyber criminals use fake accounts to spread malicious links. Social engineers use spam accounts looking to attract users to click on malware links. Also be careful with the links you share. Only share links you know they are from a source of good reputation.
- Location: Ask yourself if you really need your social posts to mention your Geo-location. Quite often this does not bring value to the content. In such case, hide your current location or deactivate the Geo-location feature in your account parameters.
Disabling Geo-location related parameters is not sufficient, some social platforms still track user’s Geo-location via other means. This is why if you want to get rid of this problem use a VPN network on your device. I explained in this article the benefits of using a VPN, check it out for more information.
Keeping your online identity secure is just as important as locking your door at night before you go to bed. This is why your need to use a complex and preferably different password for each social account. But how to remember different passwords?
I have a simple tip for you: Do not remember your passwords! Here is the trick: instead of remembering a password, remember the formula to create one. Here is an example:
Let say you have a preferred song, you know the title right? Or maybe you know a precise phrase in the lyrics? Good! You have a part of the formula. Then choose one special character like #,! or any other of your choice. Next select date or a number that is precious in your memory. Here is a formula you could use:
<special char>the song lyrics in short<special char>a number
Now you need to add a differentiation factor to avoid using the same password. For example, give a nick name to each website or social platform. Or attribute them a word that symbolize this website for you. Like “birdy” for twitter, “redfox” for Google,… and you add this to your password. Your password looks like this now:
NickName<special char>the song lyrics in short<special char>a number
You have just to remember the formula. This way, the password is complex enough to prevent attacks or discovery attempts of your password.
#3 Multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication requires multiple steps to prove your identity. This can be entering a one-time password, a PIN number, or even facial recognition. Use Google authenticator, your fingerprint, or any other provided system to use MFA. This itself will save you from a lot of trouble.
#4 Master your privacy parameters
Review the privacy parameters of your social accounts. Parameters like sharing metrics automatically, Geo-Location, saving history on the cloud, advertisement or tracking. All these parameters can be tweaked to ensure that you let a very light footprint in term of data.
On your smartphone’s setup a new email address, use another name, do not put your exact birth date. This way the tracking becomes less effective. These are not details.
#5 Use Data Privacy Applications & Projects
There are several kinds of mobile apps to boost personal security and privacy. From password managers, to secure messaging apps or anti-theft apps. For mobile users here are some applications and project you can follow or install:
- Obscura Cam: from the guardian project, this application permits to blur element in pictures and photos. It removes metadata from your pictures. (small data that are included in your photo by your camera and can reveal the date, location,…)
- Location Privacy: is an application that fake your Geo-Location. The app’s page says: “Just click on a link that points to a location, and LocationPrivacy will show up as one of the options. If you select it, then it will use the most private way possible to get the location from that link.”
- And, of course, Orbot which offers you the possibility to proxy your phone’s apps via the Tor network.
If you do not know what Tor is you can check the official web page of the project. This is a network to which you access via a specific client that route your traffic and render it anonymous. A user using Tor becomes anonymous and his location cannot be guessed. You can use Tor on your phone using Orbot but it can be installed as a browser on your computer as well.
Another way to achieve more privacy is also to use more an more cryptocurrencies. In a near future I believe there will be a switch in the economy. We will tend to a generalization of cryptocurrencies usage. If you want more detail on cryptocurrencies like the bitcoin, check my article here.
Data security cannot be achieved without considering data privacy. This is why it is our responsibility to handle the security of our data. But tools exists and simple actions or measure can help us keep our data security and privacy in close control. If you liked this article feel free to share it it is always appreciated.