By: Tim O’Pry | Chief Security Officer
In an October 2018 speech, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke on what he believes are the wonders and dangers of technology. A summary of that speech was detailed in this INC online article and the one statement they identified as among the more significant was:
“Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.”
The entities utilizing and ‘weaponizing’ our personal data isn’t just ‘bad actors’, but legitimate companies and services we use every day. Every website you visit with an ordinary browser has the capability to track each and everything you do on that website – and most DO! Additionally, your internet service provider also knows a lot about your internet behavior and many save and sell that information as well. While most of us are aware that websites track our usage, what we do not know is the specifics of that monitoring and what they do with it.
Some of the major companies (Google, Apple, Facebook) now provide methods for you to view and delete some of this data – emphasis on SOME. Without using tools like an anonymous browser and a Virtual Private Network (discussed in our Cybersecurity 102 seminar), we will always leave traces of our internet behavior for others to mine and potentially use. Information that is on the Internet, STAYS on the Internet, but unlike Las Vegas there is absolutely no guarantee of privacy.
Other than pulling the plug and living like it’s the pre-1990 once again, what can one do? [Once again, our Top 3…]
- Pay more attention to your online activity. Not only the websites that you visit, but what information you provide them. Did you know that if you type information into a web browser – even if you do not press a button, all of the information you type can be captured and saved? Avoid giving personal information whenever possible – be a passive viewer / reader vs a participant.
- Use a different email address for your non-personal contacts. It only takes a few minutes to create a free new email account in Gmail and you can forward all of them to your main email. Get a free Google Voice number that you use when a phone number is required. Most of us keep our cellphone numbers forever, don’t make it easy for the Robo callers to get yours.
- Use your browser in anonymous mode. All of the major products have an option to run in a mode that will limit some of the activity that can be tracked by the websites you visit. However, this does nothing to prevent your internet service provider from knowing which websites you visit. If you want to take this to the next level, get the free Brave browser for your desktop and mobile devices. Brave has a number of interesting features that work to protect you and your privacy, including the ability to use TOR (the Onion Router). [See this article for more information on TOR.] If you really want to take it to next level, then use Brave along with a VPN (we recommend Nord VPN). Those two together, will give you a much higher degree of online security – but only if you also avoid freely giving your personal information when you visit websites.
Remember that nothing is 100% secure on the internet so always remember to monitor your accounts on a regular basis. Security is inconvenient, but the alternative is much worse.