It’s no secret that technology has made us more connected but also more vulnerable. To regain our online privacy, there are different complimentary methods. One way is to limit our online exposure by avoiding to post personal info. However, since we can’t practically live in a cocoon, we might as well embrace the power of technology by using it to better protect our digital lives.
As the founder and CEO of a cybersecurity company, I spend a considerable amount of my time focused on ways to protect both the online privacy of my customers, my team, and my own. It’s a bit like the surgeon who has seen so many car accident injuries: I am on guards for whatever new way hackers are inventing to steal people’s personal and professional information, and in awe of the damage they can inflict to someone’s reputation, financials, business and family. While we look for new ways to protect from new attacks, it’s also astounding how well-known “old” attacks are still in use, because so many people still are either not much aware of the online dangers, or forget to use basic protection means.
Of course each day it’s becoming less likely not to have at least some kind of awareness (think of the headlines about cyberattacks) and yet many individuals and even some companies think it won’t happen to them…until it does. In fact, most companies don’t find out until 6 months after the facts, that they have been hacked.
The two dimensions of data protection and online privacy:
There are two main dimensions to data protection and online privacy: one is to protect the perimeter, i.e. not to let the bad guys into your house, by locking the windows, the doors, and having good walls (that would be the real life equivalent of firewalls and intrusion detection systems). This is hard and in fact the bad guys tend to be one step ahead. The other dimension would be making sure that each of your precious jewelry is protected by a separate vault, and that only you have the key to each vault. Simplifying a bit, this is the real life equivalent to data protection via encryption.
The good news is that so far it’s the good guys who are winning the encryption battle. Of course there is a caveat: it depends what type of encryption you use (algorithm, key length, etc.) and how you implement it. Continuing the analogy: you should have a vault that is thick not thin, that has a sophisticated lock not a basic one.
Encryption: a strong tool for your online privacy. Now it’s even easy to use!
It used to be that using encryption was a hard thing to do, and thus only reserved to geeks. This was the traditional conundrum between security and convenience, where security traditionally came at the cost of usability. And we all know that if something that provides security is hard to use, people end up not using it and reverting to easier, less safe behaviors. Not any more. Several cybersecurity companies are working at making the life of their users both more secure and still very easy. It’s our case too.
At Syneidis we have created HushApp, which allows any user, without needing any technical skill, to easily and safely store any file (whether photos, PDFs or financial excels) in a very safe digital box, where each one is protected separately. It also allows sharing files in an easy way via the web, but with the important extra layer of protection, transparent to the user, which ensures that only the intended recipient, and no one else, will be able to watch the private information. This is of course one example only. Besides protecting your file, one should consider using a VPN, a firewall, etc.: security is a global matter and no one solution could cover all the angles.
People are the weakest link in online privacy protection. Are you?
In fact, while we ought to embrace technology tools that allow us to protect our online privacy, we need to be aware that unfortunately the weakest security link still tends to be…people themselves. So please be among the prudent ones: do you really need to post that photo on Facebook, which will tell burglars that you are not at home? Should you really send this excel with financial data by email or via some free cloud service? Should you really sync my phone camera’s gallery to Apple or Google clouds? I’m sure you know very well the answer to these three questions…But there are many more…How well would you fare on a cybersecurity awareness test? You can find out here with this short test whether you are an expert or a dummy in online privacy.
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