We also know that people use the Internet for various purposes and in several different ways.
They mainly use it for work, communication, entertainment, study, and to collect pieces of information. In addition, they use it to transfer money, send or store sensitive data and share pieces of private information. They also use it to organize protests, help people in danger, put up a petition, or support human rights organizations from another country.
Nowadays, every day brings us some new devices, solutions, applications, or communicators.
With this ongoing progress, as technology continues to evolve, our lives seem to have become easier. But are we safer? Do we realize that the more technology we use, the higher the chances for cybercrime are? And do we know how to protect our own or other people’s privacy or sensitive data?
We ourselves need to take care of our own privacy and security, because no company or organisation will do it for us as thoroughly or comprehensively as we can.
We ourselves need to think and decide what software or applications we will install on our devices, how we will treat our passwords, and what kind of information we will share with others.
There is no better protection than… reflection?
People often start to think about their privacy and security only the moment something bad had already happened to them. It could be anything: from hacking of their social media account, through having publicly posted a piece of their private conversation by a stranger, to getting their money stolen form their online account.
Here are a few of such real-life stories we’d like to share to help you grasp the scope of the problem and see what kind of consequences of not taking good care of our cyber security there may be for any of us:
A story of unsafe communicators and hacking a messenger account: a young, right-wing activist, who was successfully climbing the ladder in his political career, has been attacked one day by a hactivist who published out in the open the entire content of his private messenger conversations from the last six months. After that, the victim’s career was destroyed and he was compromised among his friends and colleagues, who read what sort of unpleasant things he had written about them in private.
A story about our endless trust in the information we see posted in the social media: some people found a house moving company on FB and ordered their service without verifying the firm first. Consequently, they ended up losing all their belongings, as the moving company was a hoax that had never legally existed – the villains just came, took all their belongings, and disappeared without a trace.
A story about the information we publish about ourselves abundantly in the social media: one person has become the victim of a phishing attack and a financial fraud after trusting an attacker and unwillingly sharing with him a lot of personal information.
A story about the importance of using the two-factor authentication: one of animal rights activists has lost her Fb account for good because a hacker used his own 2FA on her account, so that any of the FB profile recovery forms didn’t work to get it back; she lost her account simply because of not knowing what the 2FA was.
Prevention is the best remedy
Apart from the stories and the reflection they bring, it is also good practice to motivate ourselves in the next step to find the time and energy to install and start using a number of specific tools that can make us more secure, such as: a password manager, a secure messenger, a safe email account, or 2FA. Prevention is the best remedy and it is far better to become aware of what may happen to us in time, rather than to be forced to deal with the consequences. Better to be safe than sorry, as they say…
Here is a short reference list with links to some useful tools everyone can start using to be more secure online:
Safe, alternative search engines:
Did your email leak? Find out and check here: https://haveibeenpwned.com
Safe messengers – an article on the subject plus 2 examples:
Messaging Apps Comparision: https://niebezpiecznik.pl/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Secure_Messaging_Apps_Comparison___Privacy_Matters.jpg
Safe email account:
KeePass - link: https://keepass.info/download.html
These were just a few examples. There are many, many more recommendations or tools to be listed and worth discussing. Digital Safety and Security is a limitless area to explore, so if you want to learn more and go deeper taking care of your digital security, register for the Hive Mind Digital safety and Security course:
Or read the super-thorough “Best Practices Guide on Operational Security” written by Radically Open Security: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14meplvXQaaCZH9LW-l8xPqXILoR6h1dI/view?usp=sharing
ABOUT THE AUTOR:
Anna Chęć is a TechSoup Europe Digital Safety & Security trainer from Poland, an educator and a local activist. For the last 20 years, she has been working with multiple NGOs, and currently leads the World in Our Hands' foundation. The main areas of her activity focus on the initiation and coordination of local actions for change, as well as, broadly speaking, non-formal education.