Data Detox: How to Amp
Up Your Digital Security
Minimise your digital footprint and maximise 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.
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.