The ability of the wildly popular Pokémon Go app to access your smartphone’s camera, location data and Google account information has riled security experts and highlighted how important it is to keep watch over how your personal data is being used.
Here are a few simple things you can do to protect your privacy, even for the less tech savvy:
1. Use a password manager, and consider going beyond a password to safeguard your information. Do you use the same password for all websites, or even worse, “123456” or “password”? It may be time to get a password manager, a program that generates and stores strong passwords. (Wired.com has put together this handy list of quality free password managers.)
Going beyond a password may also be a good idea. This could mean prompting the site to ask a question only you can answer or using a fingerprint or voiceprint. Many sites, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple, allow you to add another layer of security. If you’re not sure if a site has this feature, turnon2fa.com allows you check and guides you through how to set it up.
2. Avoid doing your online banking or checking your email on a public Wi-Fi network. If you have no choice, subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) will provide additional protection and leave your data less vulnerable to hacking.
3. Check your activity on Google. Google has just given users the ability to view their history and delete activity. On myactivity.google.com, you can see your Google account’s searches, YouTube views and other activity on Google platforms. But be forewarned, says Computerworld’s Evan Schuman: Forgetting your search history may make your Google searches less useful and ads more generic and annoying. And selectively deleting your history can be a time-consuming affair.
4. Don’t leave sensitive information in the cloud. Services such as Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox may be convenient, but they are still vulnerable to being hacked. So it’s best to leave out the most sensitive information. If you must store information in a cloud, consider encrypting your files before sending them to Dropbox by using a service like Boxcrypt.
5. Do a privacy check on Facebook. Facebook settings allow you to review who can see your stuff and how widely your information is being shared. Google has a similar feature.
6. “Spring clean” your social networking activity regularly. Social media is part of your personal brand. CareerBuilder says the proportion of employers who check social media before hiring has jumped 500 percent over the last decade. So from time to time it’s worth reviewing what you post to ensure you don’t harm your reputation.