What’s the best way to prevent hackers (or estranged exes) from stealing your nudes? Maybe just don't take them in the first place! However, similar to how teaching abstinence doesn’t work in sex education, counting on always keeping the smartphone outside of the bedroom won’t work, either.
If Celebgate can teach us anything, it's to put more security systems in place.
Like having unprotected sex, there’s always a risk in protecting your data. While the following may not make your data completely impenetrable, these eight privacy recommendations do offer another layer of protection:
1. Password Protect All Devices
This is a very simple action that most people probably already do. However, I dare you to take it to the next level. Make your unlock password more than just a four-digit code. Instead, set it to be a more complex password, like the one you probably use for Gmail or Facebook.
2. Create Obscure And Unique Account Passwords
Not only is it important to make your passwords obscure – filled with numbers, letters and special characters –, but it is also crucial to make your passwords unique to each important account.
Think about it: If a few of your passwords are identical and an attacker has access to the one that matches your email, he can sign into your email account. He then has the power to change every password on every account you have linked to that email address.
Email account passwords should always be independent from the rest of your accounts.
Looking at the recent Celebgate scandal, the hacker most likely used a brute-force attack to crack the iCloud passwords -- essentially, a program that can run a series of password tests until finding the one that works.
After the hacker (or hackers) found the iCloud email logins, finding the matching password was pretty straightforward.
Since the attack, there have been many questions about the stability of the iCloud and any potential loopholes. We have since learned that Apple had a preexisting security flaw with its Find My iPhone service, which could have led to an opening in the iCloud password login.
Nonetheless, it has been said that the hack could have been avoided if the accounts had the next privacy measure in place.
3. Enable Two-Step Sign-On Verification
Basically, this two-step sign on requires your account password and a text message code when signing on to new devices. Sure, it can be annoying to find your cellphone in your bottomless backpack just to type in the code when using a library computer or just your friend's laptop.
But, imagine having your Gmail account or Facebook in the wrong hands. (Literally, my life revolves around Google Docs and the Google calendar. Not being able to access it would be detrimental, to say the least.)
So, sign-up for the two-step verification process NOW. Yes, NOW. This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Following Celebgate, countless articles have cited that if attacked celebs had two-step authentication, the hack would have been much less likely.
With the two-step sign-on, unless the attacker has access to your phone to read the text-messaged code, the chances of the person getting into your account are slim.
Keep in mind that not every online account comes with this two-step authentication feature. Here’s a list of popular sites, perhaps holding your sensitive data, that offer two-step verification for new devices trying to log in: Google, Apple, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, DropBox, PayPal, LastPass.
Moreover, many of the above services can send cellphone notifications if any suspicious activity on your account occurs.
4. Clear Your Cache, Cookies, Saved Passwords, Browsing History And Everything Else Regularly
Yeah, it can be a pain to retype your password AGAIN when signing onto Twitter, but you should always clear your browser history.
Why does it matter? Firstly, if your laptop were to be stolen, having a slough of saved passwords would not be great. Also, deleting cookies is a great way to fend off advertisers trying to track your every move on the web. More than that, hackers can use your stored cookies to carry out cross-site scripting.
Essentially, on insecure and affected sites, a hacker could steal your stored Facebook cookies, for instance, and gain access to your Facebook account.
5. Look For The Lock And "https://" In Browsers When Sharing Or Storing Information
When signing on to any site, make sure it is a secure site. Essentially, any site that requires you to supply information, like credit cards for online shopping or personal data, should be secure.
How do you know the site is secure? Look for the lock on the left side of the URL, followed by “https." On Chrome browsers, the “https” will be green. This means that the site is running on a SSL secured server. SSL security establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a user.
As a result, this allows sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and login credentials, to be transmitted securely. However, just because you’re on a secure SSL site (with the lock and https showing), still take precaution and realize something bad can always happen.
6. Be Wise About WiFi
If you’re at a sketchy hookah bar on your Eastern Europe trip conducting online bank transfers on sluggish WiFi, you’re living dangerously, my friend. Even at "normal" places, like coffee shops, airports, the library, etc., whenever you connect to a public WiFi network, you are more vulnerable.
Luckily, there are several ways to keep your stuff safe when accessing WiFi in public places. Do theses things to protect yourself:
-Make sure all sharing is turned off
-Keep software up to date
-Look into a security browser extension, like HTTPS Everywhere
Beyond protecting your laptop on while surfing public WiFi, there can also be vulnerabilities in mobile apps, too, when you connect to public WiFi.
7. Know What You’re Backing Up To The Cloud And What You’re Not
Often, when signing up for something new, we overlook the privacy agreements and the fine print. Then we let things run on their own, without checking in. Sure, it can be a pain to make periodic checks on our DropBox, iCloud or Google Drive, but we should do it, anyway.
Knowing where our photos, documents and everything else is being stored is important. You wouldn't just leave your latest bank statement laying on the Starbucks counter, would you?
Relating back to Celebgate, when you take a photo on your phone and syncing is turned on, the photo is automatically backed to a cloud server (whether Apple's iCloud or anything else). After it uploads to the cloud device, even if you go back and delete it, its traces will still be in the system.
As one of the hacked celebs exclaimed on Twitter,
Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked. — Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
At the end of the day, nothing is ever truly deleted on the Internet. If a person has intent and know-how, "deleted" photos, documents and so forth can be uncovered. (As Celebgate has proven.)
8. If You Insist On Using Your Smartphone To Take Nudes...
Turn off syncing! Better yet, put the phone on Airplane mode. Then, after the photo shoot is over, transfer the photos to your computer. (Where they should be stored in a safe and password-locked folder, and not synced to any cloud storage system!)
Next, delete the photos from your phone while the phone is still on airplane mode. Then, turn airplane mode off. The photos will not be on the phone, so they will not sync.
The most important lesson to take away is that everything you do online is stored. As one Redditor noted in a conversation about the best way to store nude photos,
In a network security class, I once saw a poster from the early 2000's that said the only secure terminal was one disconnected from the network, incinerated, buried in concrete and fired into the sun.
The point is that nothing you do online is fully secure.
Photo Courtesy: Instagram