We all remember this past summer, one or more unknown hackers stole and released private photos of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Arianna Grande, Kate Upton, and Kirstin Dunst. This digital leak has led to an overwhelming number of comments and opinions on the morality of the victims and questions on the security in the cloud which leads to an important question: Is your personal data secure?
Regardless of the answer, precautions should be made. It isn’t a crime to take and save intimate photos no more than it is a crime to write and save personal emails. What is a crime is taking advantage of systematic flaws and stealing and exploiting private information. That being said, Jennifer Lawrence’s photo leak scandal should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate how you are using the cloud to store your personal files. If hackers are able to easily access a user’s photo library, it’s safe to assume they can access more dangerous information, too.
Here are some tips to protect your data from a security breach:
1. Keep sensitive data off the cloud
There are some things that shouldn’t be stored outside your physical hardware. Information pertaining to your bank account, sensitive work emails, and private photos should be kept on the physical device itself, rather than stored on a cloud-based system. Some phones, like the iPhone, push your camera roll to the photo-stream automatically. To update your iCloud settings, go to “settings,” select “iCloud” and disable photos, email, and applications that may have personal information.
2. Lie on your security questions
Now, social profiles make it all all too easy to find personal information. Questions like “Where was your mother born” and “What is the name of your first pet” can often be found in a quick search of your Facebook timeline. You can help keep your passwords safe by lying on your answers to those questions.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
This adds an extra layer of security for many sites including email and iCloud. When the two-factor authentication is enabled, the user receives a code sent via text message once they’ve entered their password. You enter the code and gain access to all their accounts. In most cases, sites and browsers will only need the two-factor authentication once per device, so you don’t have to go through the process each time you want to log in. Read more about two factor authorization here.
4. Remove Geolocation Services
In some cases, signing in to a device or app automatically enables this feature. If an app or system is breached, a hacker could potentially know where you were and where you are in real time. Some apps make sense to use location, like Yelp and Facebook, but make sure to check your phone and computer settings for apps (especially those still in Beta mode, or programs created by smaller companies), that would never need to know where you are. You can avoid unknowingly revealing your location in just a few minutes.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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