We live in an era where so much of our lives are lead through our technology and this trend will continue to rise to the point where we only live through our technology. Given that this is the direction humanity heading, we should all be aware of a few things…
Privacy is abstract
Your online privacy is subject to terms and conditions and can be changed, retroactively. You should be aware that what you once thought was private can become less private at the whim of those who house your personal data. Typically your privacy agreement will be updated to give advertisers access to your data, so that they can target you with advertising.
Your privacy is always at risk
Hackers will seek out vulnerabilities in the security (and other systems) that house your private data. Like all people, hackers are a nuanced group. Some will seek personal gain with information they steal; others will not. Hackers will behave according to whatever motivates them.
Once your privacy is breached, there is no recovery
If you have been the victim of hacking, and had personal information stolen, there is very little you can do. Once information hits the internet it is shared (duplicated) and distributed around the network. The best thing you can do is move forward in a more secure direction.
If you don’t understand it, don’t use it
It is easy to buy a smartphone, set it up to use all the default settings and away you go. But do you really understand the implications of these default settings? Most modern operating systems periodically back-up your data to cloud-based data centres. These centres are on the network and can therefore be (and are frequently) hacked.
Do you use unique, non-dictionary, long passwords or do you use family names, pet names, favourite sports teams? If you don’t know why you need different and secure passwords you are not taking care to secure your data. You should take some time to read up on internet privacy and security
before you put so much of your life on the network.
On sensitive photographs
There are two things you need to be careful of here…
Firstly, your device does not know the difference between a nude selfie and a big red tractor; both will be backed up to one or more cloud services. Your nude selfies and tractor photos are now in a vulnerable location, simply by being on the network.
Secondly, if you send somebody else a nude selfie (or a racey tractor shot), you have substantially increase the risk to your privacy. Even if you run a tight ship with your own privacy settings, you have no control over the person who now has a copy of your private data. While you may trust this person’s character, do you trust that they are taking care of their own privacy and security? Hint: You’re a fool if you do.
On victim blaming
Since the recent celebrity hacking scandal, you can be sure that many (I’m tempted to say all) of these victims have not taken care of their privacy and security of their data. The fact that they did not adequately secure their data, or that they took nude photos in the first place, or any other detail does not make these people any less of a victim.
If you are a person of special interest (i.e. a celebrity) then you are obviously at a higher risk. Society is obsessed with your personal life and hackers reflect society. It comes as no surprise that celebrity data is targeted. Unfortunately for the victims, they will almost certainly never experience justice over this breach of privacy since hackers are usually very good at maintaining anonymity and often reside outside the jurisdiction of western law enforcement.
In conclusion, these victims of hacking should learn from their experience, gain a deeper understanding of privacy and security and use their celebrity status to promote awareness on the importance of privacy and security in the internet era.