It was all I could do to stop myself hurling expensive kit out of the window on reading about the recent ‘celeb nude photo scandal’.
Knee-jerk reactions typically consisted of “serves them right” as though punishment was warranted for being famous, a woman, and sharing the odd nude photo with a partner.
Then there was the sage advice that people “shouldn’t take nude photos” if they don’t want them ‘leaked’ and shared with the world. But this wasn’t so much a scandal as a brazen, despicable breach of people’s privacy. And the photos weren’t leaked - they were stolen by hackers and fired across the internet, with no regard for the damage and pain such actions would cause.
If this was a scandal, it was only one in the sense tech companies too often take a ham-fisted, opaque approach to online security, hiding risk deep beneath layers of supposed convenience.
‘Click this and we’ll upload all your photos.’ No need to warn people about the potential consequences! No need to make people aware about what’s really happening! No need to tell people to secure online accounts with robust passwords, and to obfuscate answers to so-called security questions that can be prone to social engineering! So: no victim-blaming here.
What happened was awful for those involved, and it’s no more their fault than it would be yours if a burglar broke into your shed and stole your new bike. (“Ha! Shouldn’t own a new bike, fool!” might yell the aforementioned advice-givers, shortly before we at Stuff HQ hurl a furious swan at them.)
Instead: some tips. These won’t necessarily stop someone getting hold of your private data, but they’ll make doing so a whole lot harder.
1. Pa$$word is not a password
In a scene you’d swear was scripted by Chris Morris, CNN technology analyst Brett Larson suggests you make passwords more secure by changing ’s’ characters to dollar signs. No. Passwords must be complex and not amenable to obvious guesswork.
Instead, use a password manager such as 1Password to create complex online passwords on your behalf and deal with logins so you don’t have to remember them.
2. Passwords should be unique
If all your passwords are the same (or use a pattern), you’re done for if someone breaks into one of your accounts.
Use a password manager to make complex, unique passwords for every online login.