Women and Privacy: Things You Don’t Know CAN Really Hurt You.

Maybe not physically, but it has happened. Remember the “Craigslist killer?” Cyperspace is full of common folks communicating, banking, buying, and playing. But there are also countless numbers of hackers, scammers, peepers, thieves, and even murderers out there too. In a digital age, some things can get scary. Should you really worry? Well…., in a word—- YES! Anyone can be a target and a victim. The good common sense safety rules we apply when out on the town, traveling in a foreign place, or just following our day to day routine, should extend to our electronic devices and communication as well.

Your Own Computer May Not Be Safe

There’s $40 software anyone can buy (no computer engineer required) that can hack into your computer, steal your information and even  turn on your camera, without the light turning on to tell you that it’s happening. Recently in the news, Miss Teen USA and 30 to 40 others, learned that they were being spied on in this manner. A total invasion of what they all believed, was their private space, and under their control. Even on a Mac, your camera can be turned on without your knowledge.

Apps May Not Be Safe

Some programs get hacked and some don’t care. Snap Chat lied, and doesn’t enforce it’s privacy polices. Whisper and Secret do share your information. Up until recently, any new Facebook accounts, posted to public by default. It is important that you read that tedious fine print, monitor the default settings, and just stay aware.

Everyday May Not Be Safe

There’s also a lot of hacking going on too. eBay lost not only your passwords, but your name, address, phone number and more. Target lost up to 70 million individuals’ credit card information. Apple lost developer information. Heartbleed was a problem with how security (SSL) was implemented on MOST websites online, with that recent break ALMOST ANY website you purchased from was open to being hacked. Those are just a few recent ones, as the list in never ending, ongoing, and just a part of our new electronic lives.

Sometimes it makes me want to hide in a hole! But I LOVE technology. I love the convenience and coolness of sharing on things like Twitter, being able to buy a custom t-shirt from an artist half-way around the world, and being able to see someone’s photo instantaneously and feeling like I’m there with them (even when I am not). Sharing a moment with someone on the other side of the earth brings us all together, and allows for connections and bonds like never before.

Some Ways to Stay Safe

Some developers have worked night and day to secure your information. Some are trying and some are not. Scary. The Electronic Frontier Foundation actually posts a list of companies and how they handle your privacy. There’s so much information out there if you look. I appreciate all the people that have brought attention to the problems and all the people working hard to protect us against it. It is a never ending battle between the “good guys and gals” and the bad ones.

As new security is implemented, some creep finds a way around it. So the days my grandparents told me about, when the whole community left the back door open— are gone. So are the days when we could just play, chat, and buy online using the same password for everything (yup, 55% of people still do that!). All I can do is fight the good fight and not give up.

There’s several good articles and tips out there on how to protect yourself, your data and your privacy. One book I read called The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy helps women (and men too) navigate this jungle. She has some suggestions for daily prevention tips, what to do if hacked, and how often to check what. Not a bad start.

Here’s a Few Tips From @VioletBlue:

  1. Don’t give up. Don’t forget you CAN do some things to protect yourself. ( She has some great resources listed. )
  2. Might I suggest a piece of tape over your webcam?
  3. It’s a good idea to change your passwords often. ( In light of recent events, I’d say now is a good time. ) 
  4. Use different passwords and different emails for different kinds of accounts. Password managers like 1Password help with that. A PO Box for signups makes eBay losing your address, not as scary. 
  5. Diligence is good, Google yourself to see what’s out there.
  6. Lock your devices and don’t sign-in on other devices. 
  7. Let me repeat. DON’T GIVE UP. 

419j52P+fbL._SL110_The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy
I would suggest this book for any of the women you care about, including you. Thanks @VioletBlue, The Electronic Frontier Foundation and all the tech / non-tech people who work hard to help navigate this digital jungle. It’s a pain to protect yourself in this digital age, but what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Hopefully with awareness we can try.

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Autumn J @designlaurels

Contributor at iGirl Tech News
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