Recently, a young person’s data was stolen and shared illegally across social networks and other media. What struck me is the fact that the file in question was not sent to anyone an was instead hacked directly off the victim’s phone.
What happened is utterly deplorable but unfortunately cases like this keep happening regularly. Below, I’ve listed some points that could help you prevent unauthorized access to your own data.
Only send data to people you trust: When sending data over messaging services, make sure that you trust the person on the other side. They might be your friend but it could be easy for them to lose their phone or become careless with your messages. In general, be skeptical of anyone or anything that asks you for your personal information or data and question why anything would need to know something about you.
Limit apps permissions: When installing an app on your phone, be careful of the permissions it requests. When you grant an app the permission to access your files, your location, the microphone or the camera, it can simply pull that data at anytime without you even noticing. A simple game should not require any special permissions but a lot of "free" games are in the business of harvesting your data to sell to advertisers. Other serious offenders are social media apps, like Facebook. Uninstall any apps that you don’t use and be strict with what you install on your phone.
Do not reuse passwords: Due to the sheer number of online services that we use, it is only a matter of time before your password is stolen. There are a lot of companies that do not protect your data as well as they should. If your password is stolen, a hacker could download your private files from any cloud service that you use. For this reason, always assume that your password will be stolen and do not reuse the same password across different services. Instead use a password manager, like BitWarden, to organise your passwords and ensure you use unique passwords for everything.
Online data is eternal: When data is placed on the Internet, it can never be removed. Even if you’ve removed a message or a post you’ve shared, there are services that automatically catalogue and make copies of data you’ve shared and store it forever. Think twice before sending an angry e-mail or sharing an offensive joke because, unlike what many people think, it’s impossible to recall such messages.
Use secure channels: Whenever you’re submitting data on the Internet, make sure you trust the website you’re visiting and that the browser shows a padlock icon in the address bar. Do your own research on the terms and conditions of the service that you use and stick to trusted forms of messaging, like Signal, as opposed to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Understand that, at the end of the day, you alone are responsible for keeping your own data secure. Do not rely on anyone else to keep your data private and do not trust anyone or anything just because it is popular. Use a healthy amount of skepticism, do your own research and think before you act.
This informational article was written by Kyle Pullicino, founder and director at Phalanx Software Ltd. Phalanx Software specializes in business automation, enterprise systems and iGaming services. For more information, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.