In these COVID-affected times we are doing more than ever online both for work and in our personal lives, and blurring the two more than ever. this brings certain questions sharply into focus. How do we keep our data secure both from corporations wanting to monetise it, and from criminals looking to steal information or worse? How much trouble is it worth going to? How much should we care?
For me, the extreme reactions are illustrated by Kevin Mitnick, who was once the world’s most notorious hacker but, having served time in prison, now earns a much easier and more lucrative living as an information security consultant. He wrote an entertaining and fascinating book called “Ghost in the Wires” which documented his career as a hacker (spoiler alert – he mostly accessed systems via ‘social engineering’, tricking people into giving him information, rather than technology weaknesses). He then followed this up with “The Art of Invisibility”, dispensing advice on how to protect your data. I found this one a bit wearing – always use a VPN, upgrade your router every year, buy a Chromebook which you only use for online banking…It was enough to make you decide a bit of surveillance wasn’t really that bad.
So is there a way to avoid the paranoia that makes normal life impossible on one hand, and fatalistically accepting surveillance and risk on the other? Everyone has to consider what is workable and necessary – clearly if you are an investigative journalist it’s worth investing a lot in this area - but below are some basic tips that I think are worth considering by anyone, expert or not, who values their online security and privacy:
We all need to find the right balance between security and convenience for us, but these are easy ways to make improvements. Why not share below your top tips for privacy and security?