All you need is a secure password, right? Or, maybe a good password manager app that can keep track of all the places you visit online that require a login. What would you put on the list of a brief course on Security 101? Is paranoia on the list? After all, if everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia is the right attitude to have, amirite?
Much Ado About Everything
The Mincey family, despite a list of well known vices, seems to generate men and women who live to a ripe old age. For the most part, my father manages his own technology gadgets, and the two of us work together to keep grandpa and grandma’s iPad working, up to date, and always FaceTime ready.
What sort of security items would I include in a Security 101 package for my father, family, co-workers, friends, and neighbors? The highly acclaimed Zack Whittaker came up with a comprehensive list and it should scare the bejesus out of you because it’s anything but Security 101 despite being named such. Fear And Paranoia 311 seems more appropriate.
Privacy is what sets us apart from the animals. It’s also what sets many countries and citizens apart from dictatorships and despots. People often don’t think about their rights until they need them — whether it’s when they’re arrested at a protest or pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Surveillance is also a part of life, and it’s getting progressively more invasive.
In other words, everyone is out to get something of yours, by hook or by crook or by subpoena. So, get ready to deal with it by using the Security 101 list. Except there no longer is a basic security policy because the number of touch points and problem areas that can unravel our carefully constructed online lives is long, and they are easily, well– touched by outsiders. Here’s the Security 101 list with a few considerations for each.
Touch ID – Sorry. Turn it off. Courts can force you to use it, but not divulge a strong password. Go figure.
Check Apps – Far too many apps phone home with your personal information. Find them. Delete them. Or, at best, prohibit sharing.
Strong Passwords – This is a no brainer but it may not matter; we’re overwhelmed with usernames and passwords. There’s bound to be a slip up somewhere.
Kill Flash – Mac users know this, and Apple doesn’t even make Flash available for Safari anymore, but websites still require Flash for some functions and videos. I know, right?
Secure Text – Text messages and email are not secure and easily accessed by governments, hackers, and your neighbor. Encryption helps, but not all messaging apps are created equal. Signal is one of the best. It’s free.
Backups – Some security experts and fear mongers suggest we turn off cloud backups because they are inherently insecure and easily accessible by those who may want the information we upload. I upload photos. What’s the harm? Hackers– and Google– can lean about us from our photos, too.
Encrypted Email – It works. Nobody uses it because it doesn’t really do much. Once unencrypted at the other end the message becomes easily accessible. There are some other geeky options for the more-than-paranoid crowd. Besides, I hate email.
Browsers – The safe and secure online computer user never uses a browser because they are inherently unsafe and insecure. When I’m feeling paranoid I use Onion Browser for my iPhone.
Public Wi-Fi – Why? Because it’s everywhere and mostly free; from bars to restaurants to the Mall. And very insecure. I use my iPhone as a hotspot instead.
Whittaker goes on to list a few more items which might help to secure your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, but it’s truly a list for the very paranoid, and definitely not a Security 101 curriculum as much as a list that graduate students in fear and paranoia would have pinned to the refrigerator.
It’s a jungle out there. Everyone is out to get you. That makes paranoia a decent attitude to have around at times.