We’ve all got secrets, and things we don’t want people to know about. Especially when it comes to those embarrassing searches we do online. But how do we keep this stuff private when it seems like the internet knows our every move? We are constantly warned about how we need to protect our privacy online.
You’ve probably heard about how colleges and future employers can check your social media to determine if they’ll admit or hire you. Like, last year, Harvard revoked 10 students’ admissions because of offensive stuff they put on Facebook. And according to a 2017 Career Builder survey, 70% of employers check candidates’ social media feeds.
then there’s the stuff in the news about how companies track our every move online, or how government agencies like the National Security Administration could be monitoring our online activities. Now, everybody’s level of comfort with surveillance is gonna be different. And maybe you’re taking some precautions.
You know, only sharing those awesome selfies and not so much pictures from that party that got out of hand. Or maybe you’ve got some of your accounts set to private. But how do we know if what we’re doing is enough? What can we do to protect our privacy online? To answer this question, we asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Or the EFF as the cool kids like to call them. They’re a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to defending civil liberties online. As you can tell, they take
privacy really seriously. But we sweet talked these two into talking to us on camera. And they said protecting yourself online isn’t one size fits all.
So they recommend something called threat modeling. The prospect of trying to protect everything from everybody all the time seems really frightening, and could possibly drive you crazy. So threat modeling is the way that we break this problem down into bite size pieces so that you’re only protecting the stuff that’s really important from the people who you really want to protect it from.
Threat modeling consists of five questions you should ask yourself. One, what do you want to protect? Who do you want to protect it from? How likely is it that you will need to protect it?
So everyone’s threat model will be unique, but here are five things you might want to consider when thinking about your own threat model. First, let’s talk about passwords. Eva says one of the most common issues is people feeling pressured to give their passwords to their significant others.
One of the best things you can do, and usually we give people all kinds of advice about how they can protect themselves online, but not giving the stuff away in the first place is probably the most important thing. Okay, seriously guys. Don’t ask for people’s passwords.
But Eva recommends having a couple of answers ready on the fly just in case you do get this kind of pressure. Like, I’d say something like, Are you crazy? I’m not about to give you my password. Or maybe you want to say something like, No can do.
I’ve got two-factor authenticator setup. And when it comes to choosing passwords, forget about changing the E’s to threes or the S’s to dollar signs, or loading up on exclamation marks. Those aren’t really making your passwords any more secure.
So that means I have to go home and change a bunch of my passwords. Creating a string of randomwords for a password, now that’s a better option. Something like chicken firetruck igloo elephant. I don’t know, whatever floats your boat. Longer passwords are harder for computers to hack.
Next, you’ve got online trackers. What we find is that various websites on the internet have hidden code that’s placed in your browser files to see which websites you’re accessing, what you’re doing on there, and essentially using that to create a profile on you.
And this information can be used by data brokers, which are companies that
collect a whole bunch of info on you and then sell it to other companies. It’s mainly used to target ads, but it’s pretty unregulated. Like, what’s stopping a data broker from selling your info to scammers or other dangerous folks.