I have recently upgraded my Surface Windows 10 to the Windows 10 Creators Update. As it stabilises, I have been experiencing issues with my McAfee anti-virus security package. It kept getting disabled as the updates ran. Apparently it was a common issue as many reported their anti-virus packages not running on startup. This got me thinking; if I wasn’t someone with a tech background would I have noticed or even flagged it as I have done so as part of the feedback to Microsoft?!
In our time and age, every single house hold owns at least a digital device, it being a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone. I remember the first computer I’ve purchased back in 2000. I also remember I didn’t want to touch it or do anything until I’ve learnt the basics of how to use it. I have even taken it further by joining a short maintenance course to understand the various components and how they fit in. So I’ve studied processors, memory chips, hard drives and network and graphic cards. But I guess, this was mainly driven by my interest in the topic of computer science and thus it became my field of study. As a consequence; the awareness of how computers and the Internet processes our information grew beyond what a novice user would know or care to understand. This lack of understanding can explain the issues we have today of computers being hacked, systems slowing down, or shutting down completely. Digital awareness can avoid the frustration with the endless cycles of purchasing new devices to keep up with the updates required to keep our devices safe.
How Privacy is threatened?
Since the dawn of the Internet and the manifestation of social media data privacy has risen as a major concern. The way I see it, if you don’t want something to be public, simply don’t digitise it. Harder said than done, naturally. The alternative, is simply not to post it online. This however, requires that your system is secured enough to ensure no spyware or virus is present on your machine in a way that enables hackers access to your data.
From my humble years of experience in the tech. field; I would like to list 10 acts that people tend to do that seriously jeopardise their data online. This is not based on research and for sure not an exhaustive list, but I am listing those and vouching for my fellow tech gurus, stating that they would know better than to do any of the below.
10-Use “Password” or “123456” as a password
I have encountered many articles referencing how millions of people still use basic “password” and “123456” as a password for their email or social media accounts. Then they complain that their email or accounts were hacked. I would say a tech guru would know better and might take it further by using one of the many freebie “Password Management” applications that can help one keep track of passwords and enable you to only remember one password to unlock the application. Luckily as well, many platforms have more restrictive rules for password selection.
9- Install many mobile apps without adjusting the app permissions
For heavy mobile users, which is probably most of us these days, many install apps frequently but rarely care to check if the app really requires the permissions it asked for. A video app, for example, should have access to your camera. But I might think twice before giving it access to my contacts, for example, or my phone calls log.
8- Don’t install Operating System updates when prompted
One might argue that this goes without saying, but you will be surprise of how many actually do that. On all devices regardless ! A tech person would be aware of the changes coming with the updates. However, I am not asking all to read what is new, but do pay attention if a mobile app update is asking for more permissions due to a new feature that was added. Core updates for your PC, Mac, Apple, or Android devices should always be installed when they are available.
7- Make phone numbers & emails public on social networks
Unless you are a sales person and your social media account on LinkedIn, for example, is to attract customers; I see no point in making the phone and email details public on social channels. You have to provide those details to the platform to login or reset your password. Your immediate friends and family should have your phone number already and if they needed your email, they can ask for it. If you ever complain from random calls or SMS’s from retailers you don’t know, or your email is full of promotions than actual emails, then consider where you have made those details public and take some actions to hide them.
6- List full details about yourself on a single social platform
This might not be very obvious and I might be labelled paranoid suggesting this. But, why do we feel the need to fill-in the blanks when we are using a social platform ?! I mean, why do you need to list your company on Facebook, or your address, period ! You are using the channels to share with friends and family. On LinkedIn, it is mainly for professionals and you might be looking for a job. As such, consider the information that is required and make that available accordingly. On LinkedIn, there is also a privacy area to manage what is known as a public profile. Make sure to visit that section and consider what you really need to show, if any. Cause unless you are a public figure or a sales person, you might not want search engines to index your social profile.