Fort Safety Advice

Your 10 Minute Digital Privacy Check Up

Digital Privacy Check Up in
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When Was the Last Time You Checked Your Digital Privacy Settings?

(Inspired by an article by Consumer Reports ” The Consumer Reports 10-Minute Digital Privacy Tuneup

By John Winstanley

Atlanta, Georgia, February 8th, 2018

For most of us, spending time clicking through our devices privacy settings ranks right up there with other household chores like draining your septic tank or scooping hair globs out of your teenagers shower drain.   

We have become super lazy with our digital privacy. We can’t even be bothered to enter our own passwords, usernames, phone numbers, or website any more. Think about it: When was the last time you actually typed in the name of a website?

We blindly trust links in emails or website to take us where we want to go…and that is why millions of bank accounts have been hacked, identities have been stolen, kids are exposed to predators, and elections are tampered with. 

Let me be blunt: If you are on the internet, you, your kids, your family, your reputation, your identity, and your bank accounts ARE IN DANGER!

Good news though…it doesn’t take a lot of time to do a basic digital check up. I found this great article by Consumer Reports that outlines 7 steps you can take care of in 10 minutes (I added one of my own to make it 8):

Keep up to date with security patches, software updates, and virus and malware protection by turning on automatic updates.  Don’t make it easy for the bad guys by not fixing security vulnerabilities. 

Make sure you have screen locks on every device. If you want a gold star don’t use patterns or fingerprint recognition….those methods have security flaws.  Instead use 6 digit pins. 

It seems like every week some website or app is getting hacked. Consumer reports recommends that you use haveibeenpwned.com to see if your information is out there based on a database of 120 known data breaches. If you find a site that you use has been hacked change your that password immediately (duh) and if you used that same password on other sites (a big no no btw) change it there too. 

This step is my own recommendation: freeze your credit with all of the credit bureaus:   (EquifaxExperianInnovis, and Trans Union) It is a pain in the you know what, but it is worth the sleep you get at night knowing that you have that protection in place. 

Turn off location tracking in Apps. Not every app needs to know where you are. Please use caution when allowing apps to access your gps function. For example, it makes sense for a car mileage app but why does Sears need to know where you are?

Make sure the websites you use start with “https” ( “s” stands for “secure”). This means that your data is encrypted when communicating with the website. Consumer Report recommends a free browser extension called HTTPS Everywhere, which can be downloaded from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Cover your laptop Webcam. Evidently it is “easy-peesy” to hack a webcam remotely. Put a piece of tape and paper over it like I do…#hackproof.

Everyone, including us, wants your email address so we can continue to provide you excellent resources….but there may be time when you just don’t want folks to have your digital digits.…so what do you do? CR recommends going to 10minutemail.com and creating an email that only lasts for 10 or 20 minutes, and just like in Mission Impossible, self-destructs into oblivion. Cool, huh? 

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