What Can I Do To Preserve My Privacy and Security? 4 Tips from @Mikko

Cyber Politics, Digital Family, Security & Privacy

What does your digital history have in common with an animal or plant that lived the Earth around the time of the dinosaurs?

The remains of both, when combined with the remains of lots of other animals and plants, can be quite valuable — at least after a few million years.

I believe data is the new oil,” F-Secure’s chief research officer Mikko Hypponen explains.

But the difference is your data becomes valuable much more quickly than so-called fossil fuels. And the demand for it, along with the ability to capture it, grows all the time with the explosion of social media and the Internet of Things.

Data Privacy Day is an international reminder of the importance of protecting your personal information. To mark this year’s observance on the 28th of January, Mikko did an AMA session on Reddit where he was asked, “What would be your best advice to a new internet user about security and privacy, and how to protect themselves?”

Here was his answer:

  1. Use a password manager. This will solve tons of other problems for you, as you will automatically have a unique strong password on every site. I prefer password managers that do not store your passwords in the cloud, but keep them locally encrypted on your own devices and just use an encrypted sync to keep them updated on them.
  2. Sign up for data leak notifications on Have I been pwned. This free service will email you right away if your email address is part of some data breach – such as the recent Yahoo breaches (or, say, Ashley Madison). The service is run by Troy Hunt and it’s trustworthy.
  3. Use a good VPN to secure yourself while using wi-fi networks. Without a VPN, it’s trivial for anyone else using the same wi-fi to see big parts of your traffic. Use a VPN on your laptop, on your phone and your tablet. I like VPNs that enhance your privacy by also removing tracking cookies and other potential breaches of privacy. The added benefit of this is that browsing becomes much faster – it’s often faster with a VPN than without! (NOTE: You can try our award-winning Freedome VPN for free.)
  4. Lastly, make a backup. Then make a backup of your backup. Backup your laptop, backup your phone, backup your tablet. And back them up so that you can recover your data even if your house burns down. Because sometimes your house really does burn down, and sometimes you are hit by encrypting ransom trojans. Our lives and memories are on our devices and they deserve to be backed up.

Mikko was also asked about the cyber security of new president of the United States, who, according to news reports, is still using an older unsecured Android phone.

“I can’t believe he continues to use his personal, outdated device to do realtime communication with the whole world,” he said. “It’s easy to see how attackers could misuse the @POTUS account if they got their hands on it. He really should not do it.”

Mikko also had some specific advice for President Trump — and all users — to protect his Twitter account.

“And, he should go to Twitter settings and change his settings on Security & Privacy / Password Reset / Require Personal Information To Reset My Password”

2 Comments

Dear Mikko
I have personally follow your career as a worldwide security adviser as long as you have done this excellent work. I am a fan of yours.
About the PWD:
How long do we have to use passwords? I, myself have to manage allmost a 100 different pwd:s! I do not trust the PWD manager! We do not have to toggle around with our identity, for instance in 90 days period! When do we get to the same level with the PWD:s……
Old people (like me) find it very frustrating to walk around with a small booklet just because to get services from the big net? Do you see a permanent solution to this GROVING problem??

Hi Kristian, thanks for the question! We asked Mikko for his reply and here it is:

Dear Kristian,

I completely agree with you. I can’t wait for us to get rid of passwords. This is security technology that was invented in the 1960s and has no place in today’s systems – yet we use it. Biometrics is replacing some passwords (like unlocking our smartphones), but we’re still far away from getting rid of passwords altogether. In the meanwhile, a password manager – or a small physical booklet – is our best bet.

All the best,
Mikko

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