HIKE UP YOUR SECURITY BARRIERS
‘What’s your mother’s maiden name?’ ‘Which elementary school did you attend?’ and ‘What is your favourite food?’ are questions any Facebook friend of yours could answer. Do not answer any Security Question honestly, instead create cryptic answers with an inside joke. Additionally, make sure your WiFi router is protected, use WPA2 security, and enable two-factor authentication for everything, even if it adds a few extra seconds to your sign-in process.
Regarding fingerprint log-ins and facial recognition features, biometric authentication and biometric identification are exceptionally secure systems, but that does not make them 100% safe. If those databases are compromised, a hacker could get access to your biometric data, or they could be used for surveillance. While this data is more vulnerable than passwords, the good news is, such high-profile data is usually secured on a stronger level as well.
CONTROL PRIVACY SETTINGS
Disable everything in your Google ‘My Activity’ page. Do not give web platforms information such as your home address and disable location tracking if you can help it. When using social media, utilise the Privacy Settings to strengthen control. Do not befriend strangers, avoid public posts and avoid commenting on public platforms if you do not have your personal data on limited access.
USE ENCRYPTED APPS
Unfortunately, this means that good old SMS is not a safe way to communicate at all. Signal Messenger is gaining popularity for its privacy-focused approach, but bear in mind that WhatsApp does still have end-to-end encryption and the option to make profile pictures and status private. Studies show that most people do not bother visiting the Privacy Settings of apps they download. Sticking to the default settings of the app is common practice, which often is not the smartest, most secure way to use it.
Another logical argument is that leaving WhatsApp is not the answer if you are still using Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Zoom – the last of which has been dealing with security scandals while also experiencing monumental growth in usage during the pandemic. If you wish to truly make the switch, consider less popular but extremely privacy-conscious video calling platforms such as Linphone, JitsiMeet and Mumble.
PRACTICE SAFER BROWSING
Chrome, Safari or Firefox store cookies to track you, so it is important to clear temporary data frequently and use Incognito mode when necessary. DuckDuckGo, a privacy-conscious browser, recently hit 100 million searches in a single day, ranking #2 in the USA, only behind Google, beating both Bing and Yahoo.
DuckDuckGo’s primary advantage is its privacy features which allow users to search without personal information being collected and sold to advertisers. StartPage.com gives Google results while protecting anonymity, and Searx.me is a fully open-source ‘privacy-respecting metasearch engine’ that is quickly becoming a favourite within the security community.