Protecting Your Privacy In 2017
Privacy is one of those nebulous aspects of our lives that we tend to take for granted until we cannot. After all, there’s is an assumption that whatever we shut away from others or that needs to remain private will remain private simply out of common respect. Unfortunately, that is far from the case. Most of us know how to take practical steps for physical privacy and protecting things like important documents or keys. The thing is that most of our important information isn’t physical anymore. Our digital footprint contains most of us and not knowing how to secure that can be devastating to us on multiple levels. 2017 is looking to potentially be a bad year for privacy in the United States and other nations as sweeping electronic surveillance legislation is becoming more common. That’s going to create all new potentially poorly secured databases for people to steal data from until everyone gets the balance of collection and defense correct. So what can you do to protect your privacy? Let’s look at some practical steps you can use in 2017.
Access to most of digital information typically involves at least one form of identity confirmation. The easiest method for this is the humble password. We’ve been familiar with these for years. They’ve been what has let us check our e-mail or log into our bank accounts quickly and cleanly. Most of us aren’t using secure passwords though. The major rules most sites tell us to use are actually incredibly poorly designed passwords that are relatively easy for a computer to guess. That’s not exactly confidence building when it comes to ensuring things like your banking and other financial data are safe. You’ve got a couple of options to help fix this depending on your temperament though. If you’re inclined towards knowing your own password, you’ll want to make a password phrase that is assembled of three to four common words that are four to five letters each. The phrase doesn’t need to make any grammatical sense to be useful. You simply want a phrase only you know that will stick in your mind. Anyone who wants to make a machine really work at guessing should look into a password manager capable of generating passwords for you. These will build long, complex passwords that will take far longer for computers to guess. They will also remember the passwords for you.
Lock It All Down
It is important to note that not every device we use can necessarily use a password manager. Additionally, accessing a password manager generally means you’ll be on your desktop already. For your safety and privacy, it is advisable to require a password protected log in on all of your devices. This means your computer, your phone, your tablet, and any other devices that allow for such protection. Our devices are the keys to our digital lives and, if we’re honest, we leave ourselves logged into some sites that we shouldn’t sometimes. This leaves a ready path for anyone who gets access to our devices to actually gain full access to all of our relevant information and potentially our passwords as well. Activate and use your password protection options on everything. You’ll also want to consider checking some of your services for two-factor authentication. Using this will turn access to important data into a two step process where you initially get the service to send your e-mail a one time used pin to use in conjunction with your password. This makes it ever harder for someone to gain access to where they shouldn’t.
Practice Good Privacy Habits
Let’s take a moment to be honest with ourselves. Social media controls a great deal of society at this point and directs the ebb and flow of various social groups. There’s no shame in using the services and it does help ensure that we can network or remain in contact with people we value. However, these places are storehouses of information and it is easy to end up contributing more than you think to them simply through regular use. Try to give the sites as little information as they will allow. Check your privacy setting and hide relevant details that others can use to figure out common passwords or otherwise use for identity theft. For instance, hide relevant biographical details such as where you grew up, your birthday, and other little things that seem uniquely you. You’ve probably used some of them as identity checking answers on other services before and they’ll help the wrong kind of people get through that security. Don’t forget to control who can find and view you either. Keep public facing information to an absolute minimum to help ensure your overall privacy.
Privacy in 2017 is going to continue to revolve around maintaining our digital privacy and security. We share a lot of ourselves out there and it is easy for anyone to use it to compromise our lives in a myriad of ways. There are still other ways you can help maintain your privacy such as using cookie removers, tracking blockers, and similar add-ons for browsers. The key question is how far you want to go with protecting your privacy. Ultimately, only you can answer that question.