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Secure Your Private Stuff Online

September 5, 2014 7:03 am Leave your thoughts
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girl_shadowIn the past couple days, the internet and media has been swamped with news about leaked celebrity nude photos, especially Jennifer Lawrence and few other actresses. This proves there are a couple problems in our society these days: invasion of privacy is getting more frequent, ignorance to our own personal data safety and over reliance on 3rd party services’ security. I must disagree though with those who said that the actresses were at fault for taking nude pictures of themselves . This is because if not personal photos then other information such as financial information can be stolen from any of us.

So, today I’m going to talk about some tips and tricks that you can employ to protect our information in the internet. No matter which services you are using, there are bound to be some holes in some ways or another. Then once that security hole is revealed it’s possible to gain access to further access information. In case of celebrities it won’t be too hard to find their personal information as they are obviously published all over the internet, so things like challenge questions aren’t going to make much difference in this case.

Use Complex Passwords

Always use complex passwords for your accounts and applications. This means having at least 12 characters with a mix of alpha and numeric. It would help tremendously if your password doesn’t consist of existing words in the dictionary. If possible, use different passwords for each of your accounts.

Now I know people hates remembering long complex passwords, especially if they are different on every account. This is where password management software such as lastpass, keypas, or other trusted applications comes in handy. Just make sure you do your research before using these apps.

Use Two Steps Verification

Many services such as google and icloud offer 2 step verifications. This means on top of your login details you still have to provide a random key, which you can obtain through sms or if the service allows an application such as google authenticator.

File encryption

When storing your files in cloud services, it will be a good idea to make sure the files you uploaded are encrypted if they are highly sensitive (again, private photos, trade secrets documents, etc).

This can be done in many ways, the easiest way would be to use services such as boxcryptor which will encrypt the files you store in major cloud storage services. Other ways of encryption can be done using desktop applications such as TrueCrypt (no longer maintained but still good I think), vera crypt, trupax, etc. There is an extended list here http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=1245367

The advantage of encrypting your cloud storaged files or local files is that even if your account is breached, the files are still nearly inaccessible by the attacker.

Encrypt Your Hard Drive

Another thing that you might consider is encrypting your entire harddrive or folder. In Windows 7 and above have the ability to do so using bitlocker technology, something that you should consider looking at.

If you are an OSX user, then you can use Apple’s file vault which will encrypt your entire harddrive. Lastly if you are using linux,  there are ways to do this as well using secure filesystem or encrypted folder. Each well known distribution such as Ubuntu has extensive guides in their website on how to enable the encryptions.

No Sharing

Ever heard the phrase “sharing is caring”? Well this doesn’t really work in the online world, specifically when you are sharing your account logins with your significant other. This doesn’t mean you don’t trust your soulmate or anything, but more that once an account login is shared, there are now more than one point of attack.

Sharing your login details increases the chance of data breach. If you really need to share information then share it between 2 separate accounts, for example linked bank accounts, shared folders in dropbox, shared galleries, etc. Of course the previous points to secure your respective accounts must be adhered to.

Share Selectively

Think of which data is sensitive, don’t upload what you don’t want to share. If you really must take a private selfie then don’t sync it to the cloud of possible.

So, this boils down to common sense, once something is online, most of the the time it will be beyond your control. Again, encrypting the contents will make those data useless to other people without the encryption key though.

So there you are, a few points to get your accounts safe. Sure it’s annoying to do 2 factor authentication or remembering very long complex password. However in the end its benefits exceeds the hassles, especially there are tools and services these days to minimize those hassles .

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