Getting back your privacy on the Internet in one simple step
tl&dr: you should not put anything about you on the internet about you don’t want to see on the billboard in the city center.
The privacy on the internet is treated as one of the greatest concerns last year and it would be treated even more next year. There are lots of articles how to harden your smartphone, what to turn off in the Windows 10 or where to store secrets. I think that they’re missing some concepts:
- The secret itself is something you’re not telling anyone.
- The best protection you can give the information that compromises you are not having or keeping this information.
- Some entities you have to trust due to legal reasons, so trust them only on the level you can afford.
On the other hand they’re giving too much value to the information that is not secret at all. Like your name, photo, e-mail, home address, bank account number and mobile phone. This is understandable, since this information is easy to protect with technical means and some articles just selling solutions for that. Many people don’t care at all about their passwords and second factors of the authentication, so this is important as well. But I want to focus on the other part.
The secret itself is something you’re not telling anyone! At the moment you told your secret another person it is not a secret anymore. Police officers would tell you that if someone would go to the other city and kill random person in a dark place they will find the murderer not because of fancy cameras or their secret tech, but due to murderer will drink too much someday and tell this story to a friend. When your company signs non-disclosure agreement with you, don’t disclose company secrets to your friend in a bar chat, very secure instant messenger or end-to-end encrypted e-mail. The rules are there for a reason that the weakest part is human, information could be read from the screen, memorized and copied by hands. Do you have your dirty secrets? That’s fine until you tell it other living soul, after that it’s not a secret. It does not matter how much you trust the person at the moment, leak might be unintentional. This might not be that evident, but when you’re using spelling cloud-based plugin for the browser you show your entire text to some service you have no control over. Same thing happen to the on-screen keyboard of your phone, voice-controlled smart-speaker and lots of others full we surrounded by. Just keep your mouth shut, don’t write the secret down anywhere -- you’re secure.
Second thing is the information that compromises you. If you don’t want to see your nude photos on the Internet -- don’t make any. If you do, then post them on your main account in the Twitter (Facebook bans these things) and send them to your parents and partners. This would save you a lot of time and nerves. Not to mention that the second time you would do this, no harm would happen at all, no extra time spent. If you did something inappropriate at your work -- report to your manager. Most companies don’t punish too much if you admit your guilty before they find out first. The main problem when you’re lying is that you need to remember what you lie and to whom you’re lying. At some point you would fail. Keep in mind that “anonymous” accounts and “restricted” posts are weak not due to evil corporations, but due to some day you will forget to re-login, post your photo instead of meme accidentally, tell your friend that this account belongs to you. Facebook itself is not evil in this way: they just want their average $5 per month per user on the ads. So don’t sell your secrets at this price.
Some entities you have to trust, so trust them only on the level you can afford. This applies to banks, government services, layers, doctors, etc. Select them properly, don’t give them all the money or entire control over your life or health. They might be evil, they might be just stupid and unprofessional -- that things happen all the time. There is no reason why wouldn’t it happen to you, so keep it in your mind and minimize the impact single fail could lead to. Don’t put all your money to a single account, don’t put a lot of money to non-banking financial organizations, have a second opinion on your diagnosis.