Privacy is only as good as you make it
Secure networks, VPNs, firewalls and the like can do a lot, but the weakest link is the human
It’s ironic that the Jeff Bezos, Amazon chief executive, who heads up one of the most cyber-secure cloud architectures in the world, had his own very private data hacked and used against him. But his sloppiness about personal security provides a warning message for us all. That is, we can build the most secure, impossible-to-hack network systems, but they can’t protect us from our own stupidity—sharing very personal data over systems that aren’t so private.
Some interesting comments and suggestions come from Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, a provider of industrial, commercial and personal cybersecurity systems, networks and products. Markuson offers some tips on protecting our privacy on line in what he calls the “five deadly sins of safety online.”
“Over the past few years, we noticed an interesting privacy paradox worldwide,” says Markuson. “As well all know, people express privacy concerns and fear identity theft. Yet they still reveal their personal details online for the sake of creating their online personas or for small bounties. The existing pool of leaked data creates an invaluable resource for hackers. Because of that, in 2019 we’ll see even more identity theft, phishing scams, personal data leaks, and financial losses.”
Today, the range of cybercrime covers everything from phishing and pharming to ransomware and massive DDoS. Worse still, security threats have moved beyond just malicious and financial intent. But we are sometimes our worst enemy, being sloppy with information—that once released on the internet—lives forever.
Markuson offers this basic and important advice to help protect your privacy on line:
- Weak passwords. This is the biggest sin you can commit online. Week passwords can cause account loss, leaked sensitive data, credit card details, etc. And yet the most popular password in the world is still "password."
- Getting tricked with phishing emails and messages. As more and more data is compromised worldwide, phishing scams are getting more personalized and more difficult to spot. That means you should get more cautious. Even if an email or message contains a personal greeting, your address, or other sensitive details, it doesn't mean that it comes from your bank.
- Oversharing on social media. Tweets or photos that you post as a college student will still be there when you are a company director down the road. To stay protected, don’t post anything that you might regret later and never share sensitive data like phone number, address, etc. Finally, protect your location. By the way, wait until you get home to post your travel pictures.
- Connecting to public Wi-Fi. The truth is that even a kid with a passion for IT and tech world can easily hack a public Wi-Fi hotspot. And for real hackers, those are true goldmines.
- Installing too many apps. Not all apps and browser extensions are good. Some of them were only created to track your online activities and browsing habits or even steal your data.