Recent headlines of Hollywood celebrities’ nude photos leaking onto the Internet remind us of the privacy risks we face when we store personal data – particularly very personal data – on smart devices.
If you want to enjoy the full versatility of your smartphone but don’t want your private moments, financial information or cellulite splashed all over the Internet, follow these nine recommendations from Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender:
1. Avoid storing pictures locally on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Last year, a total of 290,651 devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets were reported stolen in the UK. Smartphone theft is so common that, in the US, all devices will be pre-equipped with anti-theft capabilities by next year.
2. Keep secure backups on Hard Disk Drives or other less portable devices to securely store your confidential and sensitive documents. Make sure that the hard drive is kept well away from an internet connection, as any internet-connected device can be an open door for hackers at some point.
3. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. It may seem an overhyped functionality, but making your data undecipherable to hackers is a strong defence. Latest generation Android devices have an embedded full-device encryption feature that can encrypt all data, including applications, downloaded files and pictures.
4. Protect your accounts, especially online storage accounts, with strong, complex passwords. Use symbols, numbers and capital letters or even strange phrases to lock your cloud content from prying eyes.
5. Try to blur out your face on potentially compromising images. You wouldn’t want your risqué selfies to appear on Twitter, Reddit or Facebook would you?
6. Don’t email your private photos. Email accounts, especially those without two-factor authentication enabled, are easy targets for hackers looking to steal your personal details and intimate photos.
7. Format your memory card or internal memory. When you sell or lend your phone, be sure to format and overwrite the data with a secure erase tool to make sure that nothing remains.
8. Don’t share confidential information on open Wi-Fi hotspots unless you use a proper mobile security solution to block unrequested connections. Hackers can monitor your traffic and grab your banking credentials and compromising pictures without your knowledge.
9. Disable auto-uploads for cloud storage solutions such as iCloud and Dropbox. These services, as useful as they may seem, create cloud-based versions of your images without filtering your most sensitive files from the harmless ones.
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