Tom Pyke Blog
Protect Your Privacy
We generally appreciate our personal privacy, but we don’t always recognize the importance of protecting it. Let’s discuss the risks to your privacy and some steps you can take to protect against those risks, especially as we rely so much on all our smart tech devices.
If your Social Security Number is compromised by someone you gave it to or by a cyber attack, you can be vulnerable to having your identity stolen. This means the bad guys can open up new credit accounts in your name and do other terrible things. If you share too much personal information on social media apps like Facebook, you may be open to attacks on yourself and your family. If you post information about your vacation plans, you may set yourself up for a home burglary while you are away.
What You Can Do
The first thing to do to protect your privacy when using a smartphone or other smart tech device is to become familiar with privacy settings for each device and each app you use. Through these settings you can select your level of privacy protection. Settings you can control include when your location is divulged, when a device’s microphone and camera are activated, which apps can have access to the personal data on your device, and whether you want to share your personal and device usage data to support “research” or other purposes.
You also need to look for settings in each of your social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter. You can decide how much of your personal information is shared and with whom it is shared. And, of course, you can decide how much personal data to enter into an app, such as your date and place of birth, which is the kind of information that can be used by ill-intended people to steal your identity.
Watch Out for Phishing and Smishing!
Cyberattacks by email, so-called “phishing attacks,” have been around for years, but still represent one of the most dangerous ways hackers can attack you through your PC, Mac, or smartphone.
Hackers who create phishing attacks send a fake but realistic-looking email to their targets. Malware in the email then takes over the user’s PC and data when the user clicks on an attached file or clicks on a link to a compromised website. The email may look innocent. It may look like a normal email from a friend or a company or even from your boss. But it can spoil your whole day if you click on the attachments or links.
Recently, phishing attacks have been joined by “smishing” attacks, which are text messages that contain malware or links to malware that can take over your smartphone, or worse. Texts usually grab our attention quickly after we hear a bing or other alert announcing they have arrived. There is a sense of urgency associated with texts, and, especially since smishing attacks are a relatively new threat, we may not be watching out for the bad guys trying to attack us through texting.
Does Anyone Care About Their Privacy Anymore?
Many people act like their personal privacy doesn’t matter. They post all kinds of information about themselves on social media sites like Facebook, including names and pictures of immediate family and vacation plans. They even post their birth date and pictures of their family, including their children. They don’t think twice about how this information might be used against them to steal their identities or burglarize their homes when they are away or for some other nefarious purpose.
Who’s in Charge?
Are you controlling your smartphone, or is it leading you around on its high-tech leash? If you have lots of notifications turned on, you probably get beeped and bonked at several times an hour, maybe more. If you have lots of friends and are in constant contact, you can be inundated by texts alone.