Protecting your personal privacy can at times feel like a relentless task. All those pop ups asking you to accept cookies on every website you visit, hundreds of passwords to remember (all with a mix of special characters, numbers and letters), and a Google or Apple voice assistant in the corner of the room, listening to everything you say.
The infiltration of technology in our lives means there are a myriad of ways for companies to collect our personal data. Thankfully, the GDPR goes some way towards protecting that information, but there are steps that we can all take too.
Here are ten ways that I protect my personal information:
1. I use a password manager
Passwords are rubbish. They are frustrating. People who know more than me about security have been talking for years about how passwords will be replaced by something else. But it hasn’t happened yet (although Fido2 may be the answer). What I do know about security is that poor use of passwords is a major cause of data breach. I use a password manager and one really secure password, which I only share with my password manager software. The software then chooses really long and obscure passwords for all of the services that need one. At last count there were over 170. That would be a lot of passwords to remember.
2. I use a VPN
I don’t trust public Wi-fi networks. It is just too easy for them to be taken over by people with bad intentions. I have software set up on my phone and my laptop which automatically routes all my wireless traffic through a virtual private network (VPN). I feel safer trusting the VPN provider to protect my privacy when I’m using a random wireless network I pick up in a coffee shop. There are lots of providers out there but I use NordVPN on my laptop and mobile.
3. I don’t discuss business or personal matters on my mobile in a public place
Why do people do that? And why do they always sit in my train carriage? My business and my personal life are far too valuable for just anyone to know about them. I save these phone calls until I’m at home or in the office. And if I’m dialling into a Zoom call from home (other video conference providers are available), I make sure I use a generic background to prevent someone from seeing something they shouldn’t.