We all know we should do better with our digital privacy, but modern life is busy and convenience tends to rule the day. These eight tips will take you no more than a few minutes but will greatly reduce your chances of a digital privacy fail.
One of the easiest things you can do to protect your digital privacy is use strong and unique passwords on each of your devices and accounts. It’s obvious but never use your pet’s name, or your childhood nickname. Instead use long and complex passwords, with a combination of standard letters, capitals and numbers.
Sometimes passwords are so secure that you struggle to remember them, download our password tracker to ensure sure you don’t forget them.
Extra tip: Insert a random space into your password, this simple measure vastly reduces the chance of anyone guessing your password.
For those devices that use pins, ensure you’re not using your date of birth or last four digits of your phone number. When you have the option use more than four numbers in your pin, most hackers will automatically assume you’ve only used four.
Extra tip: Select a quick auto-lock time on your devices, a minute or two maximum.
Control the cloud
Most of us use cloud storage to back up, store and share our most personal data. We likely share cloud access across multiple devices, for example backing up a phone to our laptop, whether manually or automatically. It’s worth knowing how to log out of the cloud remotely in case you lose a device.
With iCloud you can simply select the Settings app and see all the devices that you are currently signed into with iCloud, revoke access by simply click the little cross button next to a device. Remember once you’ve done this, you’ll need to remember to change your password.
Extra tip: You can also to turn off all backups to the cloud on your WhatsApp account by accessing chats, then chat backup and setting auto backup to off.
If you want to be twice as sure you’ve secured your online accounts, Gmail for example, you can set up Two Factor Authentication. This is a system that requires not just your username and password. It also needs a numeric code. This code is sent to your smartphone via text message.
If you’re interested in learning more, Pixel Privacy has put together a great guide to two factor authentication which explains how it works, the different methods and the importance of using it.
Extra tip: You can turn it on for Microsoft services and sites, as well as Dropbox. It might be a slight inconvenience but it should keep anyone who might guess your password out of your accounts.
Lock your files
You can secure your most confidential files by encrypting them on your laptop.
On Windows Right-click (or press and hold) a file or folder and select properties, then select the advanced button and select the encrypt contents to secure data check box. Press OK to close the advanced attributes window, select apply, and then OK – read here for detailed instructions for Windows 10).
On Mac you can use preview application to encrypt your files. Open the image with the preview application, select ‘export as PDF’ from the menu, rename the extension to ‘.pdf’ in the drop-down window and click show details. This will let you encrypt the file and add a password. This method will work for any image files or documents that can be opened by the preview app – read detailed instructions for Mac here.
Delete Your History
Safari, Chrome and Firefox will all allow you to surf the web using private or incognito mode which blocks cookies and prevents it from saving your internet history. If you don’t use a private browser remember to regularly delete your history and clear your cache, especially if sharing your device with someone else. You can view the information Google collects about you by signing in to your Google account and visiting My Activity. From here you can also delete by topic or product.
Extra tip: For extra privacy you could always invest in a VPN, this will stop hackers and even your ISP from seeing what you get up to online. If you’re technically savvy you could look at setting up your own VPN using a VPS so you don’t have to rely on a third-party provider.
Keep Your Computer Virus Free
Keyloggers, trojans and other nasty pieces of software aren’t just downloaded to your computer if you visit unsavoury websites. There is an increasing trend of hackers hijacking legitimate websites and using them to deliver viruses to your computer. Keep yourself self by using a malware scanner such as Malwarebytes which will block websites that have been flagged as dangerous. You should also make sure that you have up-to-date anti-virus software too.
Keep your Social secure
It’s relatively easy these days to check that your posts and photos are only shared with friends, not friends of friends and never the general public. Although Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings at a moment’s notice, so remember to check them every so often to ensure they are locked down. You can see how to view and change your settings on the major social networks here.
Extra tip: Change your settings to review anything your friends post on your timeline before it appears, this easy hack will ensure you maintain control over the information shared on your page.
It’s easy to become complacent with online security, however it’s not just you that is a weak link – every site that you visit will also store data on you and you can’t assume that it is safe – some of the biggest companies in the world have had data breaches after all. The more steps you take will make your data more secure and if you follow the tips above, any data breach (local or otherwise) will be less likely to have a massive impact on your or your overall online security.
Hopefully the tips in this article will have given you some good ideas on how you can secure your data and privacy, if you have any more tips that you think we’ve missed let us know in the comments.