My 5 Measures To Protect Personal Data

There’s so many stories of hacks that lead to major data breaches. The latest is Equifax, the US consumer credit score company, who revealed that hackers accessed 143 million customer account details this year. The data included customer’s names, social security numbers, drivers licences, and credit card numbers! But there have been many more this year including in Europe. I’ve been fairly blasé about these risks, but now I’ve decided to take steps to protect my data. Here are my big  five:

1. Use a password manager. These create and store incredibly difficult passwords for you. So you go from “1Arsenal234” to “teYbCuew3cUTZ9DRuLYrYb6Yk26b”. The manager connects to your devices and browsers so these tough passwords get autofilled. I use the manager 1Password which has a monthly subscription.

2. Use disposable email. I get super bugged when I have to input my email address to register on a site I’m unlikely to use much. I worry that some random person now has my email details. You can’t just write a random email as they often ask you to verify a link in your email inbox. Well, I’ve come across a great site, mailinator.com (get it!), that gives you “disposable” email addresses. You just pick a word add “@mailinator.com”, use that to register on a site, then go to the mailinator site to access the “disposable” email’s inbox. Ingenious.

3. Find out if your data is already in the public domain. One site Spycloud.com allows you to check for free whether your email address has been associated with a data breach. It’s a free service and I found that my email has been! Another (paid) service, OwlDetect.com, takes your credit card details, social security number and emails and checks on the dark web whether you details are for sale. It then monitors the dark web and alerts when your details pop up.

4. Use a search engine that doesn’t collect your data. This is more about search engines, especially one big one, that collect all your search and email data for the supposed purpose of better “customising” your search results . DuckDuckGo doesn’t monitor any of your information and gives the same results to everyone for a given search term.

5. Go anonymous. An even more paranoid step is to use  Tor Browser when using the internet. Hackers can easily monitor your internet activity such as which sites you go to or the details you fill in on webpages if they know the IP address of your device. The Tor Browser scrambles your IP address so this cannot happen.

Let me know if you have any tips!

Bilal

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