Question of the Month

Question of the Month

Dennis Snider

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Question: What are the common digital privacy pitfalls?

Answer:
Below we list some of the common problems and misperceptions about Internet privacy.

Private browsing: most people believe that if they are browsing in private mode, they are at no danger of giving away any private information. In fact, although private browsing will delete your history from your device, it is still held by your service provider and can be hacked or even subpoenaed by state authorities. If you want to be truly private, use a VPN.

Public Wi-Fi: publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots are so commonplace now that we use them without a second thought. However, this doesn’t mean that they are safe. You might be in a Starbucks and see their Wi-Fi network on your computer, but that doesn’t guarantee that it’s their network, it could have been set up by a malicious actor to gather your information. Even if a Wi-Fi network is legitimate, remember others can access it and either hack your data or introduce viruses to your computer. The safest thing to do is to only use such networks for basic browsing, and don’t enter any site where you need to use your passwords.

Hard drive safety: just because you’ve deleted something on your computer, it doesn’t mean it’s not still somewhere on your hard drive; it can still be there even after you’ve reformatted the disk. If you’re going to dispose of your computer in any way, even for recycling, use proper “shredding” software to ensure the hard drive is completely cleared of your information.

Passwords: many people believe that if they have a very complex password, they can use it for everything. This is definitely not the case, because it means that hackers only need to get hold of your password once to access all your accounts. Use different passwords for every account (password manager apps will save you having to remember them all) and consider using two-factor authentication whenever it’s available.

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