Surveillance is a huge part of our day to day lives, but it is becoming progressively more and more invasive. Our privacy, at the core, relies on our data being secure. There are some professions, such as journalists, activists and government workers, which face far more threats than the average citizen, who usually only need to worry about tech companies tracking them in order to serve ads and store their personal records.
Although most services and apps secure data using server encryption in order to prevent people’s date from being read if it was hacked, many more are now offering it as an end-to-end service, meaning that no one else can see what has been sent, received or stored. Not even the companies themselves can see the data, only you and the person you are talking to.
With this end-to-end model, often the only way that this can be attacked is through the endpoint, for example through the device you are using, the company servers or the internet pipe which the data is travelling along.
So, with so much of our data out there, how can we protect our online personal information and devices safe?
Securing your devices
Your phone stores more of your personal information than anything else. It has your bank/card details stored on there, fingerprint sensors, health information and keychain passwords, yet we carry our phones everywhere with us, making them extremely vulnerable to hackers.
iPhones are one of the most mainstream devices around the world and Apple has its own set of security features, such as passcode and Touch ID. Android devices typically come with stronger security features, however, there is yet to be a universal standard when it comes to encryption. iPhones become encrypted as soon as the screens are locked, but Android devices need to be completely turned off.
To further secure your device, you can turn off the touch ID. Whilst this is put in place to keep your data secure, you can easily be forced to unlock your phone by using your touch ID. A passcode is much better in terms of security when it comes to your phone.
Be wary of apps
Every time you install an app, you will be asked to read and review the privacy permissions. Many of us don’t read this and don’t realise that these apps can then access our photos, camera, phone contacts and even the phone itself.
Be wary of the apps you download and install as even just one rogue and unsecure app can cause a whole host of issues. App development has come a long way in terms of securing the apps we use, but there are still, unfortunately, some apps whose sole purpose is to hack your data. If you use home assistants, such as Alexa, then it is vital that you have a secure home network. Alexa developers have worked in making this technology as secure as possible, so it is unlikely that this is ever compromised. However, as part of your daily data protection, these devices should also be considered.
Use secure passwords
Using weak and unimaginable passwords to protect your private information is just as good as sharing that information all over your social media feeds. Whilst it is almost impossible to remember unique and long passwords for all the different services you use, there are password managers available where you just need to memorise one master password.
When creating a password, it is recommended that you use long passwords wherever you can, ideally 12 or more characters. Use a different password for each and every site that you visit and use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. A strong password is one of the best steps you can take when it comes to securing your information.