Technology

Techtalk with Gadgetbyte: Keep your online data under control

- Johnson Shrestha, Kathmandu

Jun 3, 2019-

We’re all hooked on social media. So much so that even after Facebook’s big data breach scandal a year ago, we didn’t stop using it. But with everyone using so many apps and sites, knowing who has access to your personal data is more important than you think. And for those of you who’re already concerned about protecting your data, here are some tips on how you can go about doing it.

 

Never provide extra details

When you sign up for a new account online, it always asks you for a number of things--name, email address, contact number, etc. But if the site doesn’t force you to add all of those details--required fields are usually marked with an asterisk--it’s a good idea not to.

For example, if it’s not mandatory to enter your phone number but an empty box is still there, don’t do it. Or, even for something simpler, like when it asks you for your middle name slot, don’t enter it.

In addition, if you’re ordering products online, and if there’s an option to pay online via e-payment systems, opt to get it delivered to your address instead. No need to give the site more details. And if you can, choose your workplace as the address to get the items delivered to instead of your home address.

Set up multiple email addresses

While having multiple email addresses can be a bit of a hassle, it’s actually a good practice. Email accounts are free anyway, and it’s good practice to set a different one for a different purpose. Have a personal email account, and a different one for work. If you can, you should actually have a different one for setting up social media accounts and another one for online shopping.

This way, the amount of spam mail you get from all the sites you visit will be reduced. Also, not using the same email address for all your online accounts minimises security risks.

Password manager

If you have multiple email accounts, it can be difficult to remember the passwords to all of them. Unless, you’re like me and use the same password for everything--which is, again, another big risk.

To solve this, a password manager is a good choice. It solves the problem of having to remember a password for each of your accounts by storing logins for accounts behind one main username and password (which you should NEVER forget, of course). So all you have to do is remember that single password.

Additionally, password managers can also help you create strong passwords and update your current weak ones. Others go to lengths to automatically enter login details for some frequently visited websites or apps as well.

Password managers are known to be pretty secure, even the free ones. But remember to download and use only the most trusted ones, which you can find out by reading their reviews. For now, LastPass seems to be the most popular.

Use VPN

Public networks, like those inside restaurants and hotels, not to mention WorldLink’s Free WiFi, are not fully safe. If you’ve ever glanced at WorldLink’s Terms of Agreement, it says right there that they’re not responsible for any cyber-accidents that take place across their public network, and rightfully so.

It’s up to us to protect our data. And using a VPN in public/open WiFi will protect your otherwise exposed data from anyone who’s snooping around. Even free VPNs work great. TurboVPN and TunnelBear are the most popular free ones.

Other measures

There are a lot of ways that your data can be exposed. Spam or scam mail is the most popular method. You might have received countless scam mails in your inbox, and some can be pretty convincing. Some can almost make you believe that one of your social media accounts have been hacked, followed by a link to follow to take necessary measures. But before you click on the link, check for company names or website names and Google them to see if they can actually be trusted.

Lastly, your email addresses might have been usedor attempted to be used by others for various purposes. You can also check if any of your email addresses were breached or faced such attempts. Head on to haveibeenpwned.com and enter your email address to check. If your email has been included in any sort of breach, it will let you know. Sure, it will be too late to stop your data from being stolen, but you can at least change your passwords to prevent further access.

There’s no formula to keep all your data secure online. When you go online, you always give up a bit of your privacy. But taking these few precautionary steps can limit your exposure, and you’ll have a better chance of staying in control of your data online.

The writer is an IT graduate of sorts, but cannot programme or fix your computer. You can also see some of his works on johnsonshrestha.com.np

Published: 04-06-2019 07:00

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