Life Hacks

Data Detox: How to Amp
Up Your Digital Security

Minimize your digital footprint and maximize your mobile security.

Monster data breaches, privacy bugs, and leaked passwords. Cue panic mode. Digital security is usually one of those things that takes a back seat in our minds until we see those triggering headlines (or, gulp, experience a threat firsthand). Rest assured, you don’t have to live your life avoiding email sign-ups or covering your phone’s camera—unless that’s your thing. Here are some pointers for keeping a low profile online with safe surfing habits.

Cover your tracks

Have you ever found a life-changing pair of boots online and decided to check out at a more realistic time (perhaps on payday) only to find that exact pair of boots taunting you in your news feed? Well, let this sneaky—yet genius—marketing ploy remind you that your internet searches aren’t exactly under wraps. Aside from regularly clearing your browser’s history, cookies (bits of data websites use for tracking purposes) and cached (junk) files, try using the incognito browser mode. This private browsing feature resets your cookies at the end of each session, which means your personal data and previous searches will be wiped clean as soon as you close that window. There are more than a few times this comes in handy, say, if you want to log in and check your emails on a public computer or avoid a certain pair of boots from luring you back to your cart.

Although browsing incognito is safer, it won't protect you from malware. Make sure your operating software is up-to-date and your antivirus app is active.

Steer clear of suspicious sources

Spotty signal at home? It may be tempting to hop onto your neighborhood coffeehouse’s wireless network, especially if it doesn’t require a passcode. But the dangers of free and public Wi-Fi can outweigh the convenience. Because an unsecured Wi-Fi connection doesn’t utilise security encryption, any personal info you use across the web (like logins, your home address and banking details) can be exposed. The same applies when you enter sensitive details when using unauthorised apps. Be sure to connect to secured public networks whenever possible and stick to downloads from your phone’s official app store. Don’t forget to install your phone’s regular OS and security updates, which fix vulnerabilities in your device and protect your personal data.

Look for clues

Most of the time, your email service will be smart enough to filter out suspicious (or phishing) emails from your inbox – but there are plenty that slip through the cracks. Before you click that link or open any attachments, read the whole email carefully. Look out for any attempts from the sender to trick you into visiting a site or providing personal information/money—"or else." Even if the sender's email address seems legit and looks like it's from a social media platform, brand, or institution you use regularly, it’s better to visit the website directly or draft a new email to a confirmed address to ask about it. This includes those from your trusted address book. For all you know, your friend's account could've been hacked. So, brush up on some common phishing scams and red flags through your research online and report any questionable emails to the authorities.

Before you click that link or open any attachments, read the whole email carefully.

Do the detective work… on yourself

Sometimes you have to put yourself in a hacker’s shoes. Regularly Googling yourself will give you a bird’s eye view of your digital footprint (essentially any public info that affects your online reputation). No matter how solid your reputation is in real life, you may find a few things in the search results that could paint you differently or expose more than you’d want revealed. Whether it’s your home address, estimated net worth, or a list of read articles (yikes), contact the site’s administrator to take down any personal information you wish to delete. You can also look into online companies that offer this cleanup service to save you some time and peace of mind.

Erase the evidence

Just as you would use a paper shredder to run through snail mail before throwing it away, the same applies for your digital files. Unfortunately, all "deleted" files can be restored quite easily. Mobile security apps like Secure Delete can make sure any files you thought you got rid of are impossible for others to recover. And as for emails, you can either hit “trash” or “delete permanently” through your email service, so choose wisely.

Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Log in or check out with mobile security features like the Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner.

For vault-like security

We all have our secrets. You can trust that yours are safe on devices like the Galaxy Note10+, Note10, S10+ and S10.

Read these stories next