3. Take Control of Your Mobile Devices
Why: Some apps play fast and loose with device permissions and may collect more data than they need to function correctly. Meanwhile, failing to secure your mobile device could result in an unauthorized user gaining access to your online accounts and personal data stored both locally on the device and in cloud-based services.
How: Hope for the best, plan for the worst. The following best practices can help you secure your mobile devices and prevent your personal data from falling into the wrong hands.
- Only install reputable apps: Every app you install requires certain permissions to function. Some are reasonable, like a navigation app that requires access to your location; others less so, like a flashlight app that wants access to your contacts. Check app permissions in your phone’s settings, disable any permissions that seem excessive and consider uninstalling any apps that look overly intrusive.
- Use remote erase: In the unfortunate event that your phone is lost or stolen, use remote erase to ensure that nobody will be able to access the data. Both iPhone and Android devices can be remotely erased provided certain functions are enabled.
- Enable device encryption: Enabling encryption ensures that your data can only be read when your device is unlocked, meaning that even if someone gains physical access to your device, they won’t be able to see what’s on it. Most modern Apple and Android devices have encryption enabled by default, while Windows 10 devices can be encrypted via Start > Settings > Update & Security > Device encryption.
Why: One of the biggest threats to your online privacy is… you. The amount of personal information we willingly divulge on social media poses a serious privacy threat as it gives attackers an easy way to collect sensitive information that could be used to commit identity theft or fraud. A motivated attacker could potentially use the information you share online to open new accounts in your name, hack your accounts or send highly personalized phishing scams to your friends and work colleagues.
How: A combination of smart privacy settings and limiting what you share online can help protect your privacy on social media. Start with the following practices:
- Change your social media settings: Every social media platform offers a range of privacy settings that enable you to configure who can see your posts, online activity and contact information. How you tweak these settings will vary depending on your needs, but as a bare minimum we recommend deselecting location tracking, restricting who can find you online and disabling targeted ads where possible.
- Limit what you share: Protect your digital identity by limiting what you share online. Avoid filling out “About Me” fields in your social media profiles and avoid sharing personally identifiable information such as your full birthday, place of birth, address and phone number.
- Encrypt your messages: Encryption keeps your communications secure and ensures that only you and the intended recipient can read your messages – even if they’re intercepted. Signal, an open-source secure message service is a good option. WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, but requires access to your contacts list if you wish to see your contact’s names. Apple’s iMessage also provides end-to-end encryption, but only for messages sent between iPhones. Facebook Messenger is not encrypted, although its “Secret Conversations” feature is (available on iOS and Android, but not on the regular web domain)
Why: As a hospitable host, you probably don’t think twice before giving out your Wi-Fi password to guests. What you may not realize is that connecting new users to your home network could pose a serious privacy and security risk. While your guests probably aren’t going to intentionally be snooping around your files, there’s a chance they could accidentally stumble upon your personal documents or inadvertently spread malware to your network.
How: Setting up guest accounts allows you to restrict access to your network and your devices. It’s free and easier than it sounds.
- Set up a guest network: A guest network allows your visitors to connect to your Wi-Fi but prevents them from accessing the rest of your network and the devices connected to it. To create a guest network, open up your router settings and dig around in the Wi-Fi section for a setting called something like ‘Allow guest access’ or ‘Guest network’ and follow the setup instructions to completion.
- Create a standard user account: Similarly, you can create a standard user account to allow your visitors to use your devices without giving them access to your private files or your system’s settings.
We know that some of these suggestions appear daunting but don’t worry, Yellowstone Computing is here to help! Give our experts a call at 715-669-6136 or stop by our office located at 219 N Washington St, Thorp today!