14 Easy Steps To Beef Up Your Online Privacy
With Venmo scrambling to address holes in its security, the constant threat of photo leaks, and general digital mayhem wreaking havoc on your bank account and credit score, the wondrous world wide web can feel more like a minefield than the utopia Al Gore envisioned. The bad news: people will always suck and try to steal your sh*t. The good news: there are steps you can take to limit your risk, like the 14 laid out here.
Stay safe out there, people.
1. Password protect your USBs
Don’t leave sensitive documents lying around. This thumb drive requires a code to lock and unlock the USB, and is tested against “brute force” hacking.
2. Enable two-step verification for Apple ID and iCloud
It may be a pain entering two passwords, but it’ll essentially double your protection when it comes to using your Apple ID. Set it up by clicking here. Navigate to “Manage your Apple ID,” then “Password and Security, ” and “Two-Step Verification”. They’ll send a four-digit code to your phone which you’ll enter in conjunction with your password every time you make a purchase. You can do this for Gmail and other sites as well.
3. Thwart would-be webcam spies
With increasing security concerns over, oh, the camera and microphone on your computer that point toward your face at all times, someone has actually engineered quick and easy solution that isn't a piece of tape. These sleek-looking magnets will cover them up and keep tech-savvy peeping Toms out of your business.
4. Get rid of auto-fill in your browsers
Convenient, yes. But also a breadcrumb trail for snoopers to find your browsing history, and potentially websites where you may have passwords stored. On your phone, you can monitor what gets auto-filled by going to “Settings,” “Safari,” “General,” then “Passwords & AutoFill."
To deselect auto-fill in Chrome, go to “Settings,” “Show Advanced,” and then "Passwords and forms."
5. Ditch the four-digit passcode for a harder one
There’s a finite combination of potential number passcodes that a hacker could guess and eventually break into your data. If you go to “Settings,” “Touch ID and passcode,” and toggle Simple Password to “off”, you’ll be prompted to enter a longer, more complex password using both letters and numbers that’ll be infinitely harder to crack.
6. Set your phone to self-destruct
Well, not really, but basically as close as you can get. In the same menu as above, turn on the “erase data” feature, which will wipe all your information if someone enters 10 incorrect passcodes in a row. Just be very careful after a long night of drinking.
7. Put a lock on your computer
This ingenious gadget (pictured above) keeps your screen safe from prying eyes with a wireless keychain. When you walk away from your computer with this key, your screen locks. When you come back, it unlocks.
8. Find out which sites are tracking your data
The browser extension Ghostery keeps tabs on over 1,900 companies that might be collecting information on your browsing behavior. It’ll show what they’re tracking and why, so you can assess your risk and put a stop to it if you want to.
9. Encrypt your texts
10. Don’t automatically join public WiFi
Enable your phone to always ask first, since public networks are notoriously unsecured.
11. Embrace a split (online) personality
Sort of. To make identity theft trickier, use multiple email addresses and credit cards (think one for work, one for personal, etc) so that there’s not one unified picture of your digital footprint.
12. VPN FTW
A Virtual Private Network essentially blocks your IP address when you surf, so that the sites you’re visiting can’t track your unique computer identity. They typically cost just a few bucks a month, and you can read up on them more here.
13. Keep your photos off the Cloud
Got some pics that are meant for your eyes only? We’re not judging. Just go to "Settings." Go to "Photos & Camera." Turn off "My Photo Stream." To delete ones that have already made their way to that mysterious place in the sky, go to "Settings," "iCloud," "Storage & Backup," and "Manage Storage." Choose your phone and turn off "Camera Roll." Voila.
14. Lie on security questions
In this day and age, it’s pretty damn simple to figure out what your mother’s maiden name is. Try spelling it backwards, using a middle name instead, or any other mnemonic trick you might remember to throw hackers off the scent.