By Justin Chandler
My brother is convinced I do something illegal online. He thinks that because I talk to my friends with encrypted messaging apps and use a VPN to hide my web browsing, I must have something to hide.
I do, but it’s not anything illegal. It’s my life. I use the internet to work, play, learn, socialize and manage my daily tasks. The information I put on the web says a lot about me, so I use tools like encryption to minimize what others can see.
It’s no secret that we’re being watched. Whether it’s CSIS collecting metadata to investigate suspected terrorists, Facebook tracking browsing activity to sell us shit, or hackers breaking into our devices to extort us, there’s always someone after our data. It’s important to remember that nothing we put online is safe.
You can never be completely anonymous or secure on the web, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some steps to protect yourself. It’s a lot easier than you think to upgrade your cyber security. Start by using better passwords. I used to have the same two for everything, but that meant if a person cracked one, they could have accessed most of my accounts. And I was being safer than most people.
Nearly 33 million Twitter accounts were hacked in June 2016, and the most common passwords used on them were “123456,” “123456789,” “qwerty” and “password.” Ryerson accounts get hacked, too. Every 60 days, 3.6 million automated password guesses are aimed at students accounts.
I fixed my problem by downloading a password manager. It generates and stores complex passwords for my accounts, so I just need to remember the password to my password keeper when I log into any account.
Another simple way I improved my online security was by starting to use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like iMessage, Signal, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger secret conversations. Messages that are end-to-end encrypted cannot be deciphered by third parties who intercept them. If you don’t want the government or hackers to see your sexts (I sure don’t), try one of these out.
This week, your friendly neighbourhood biz and tech section has some great pieces on the web about online security. One is about ransomware and how Ryerson protects its staff and students from hackers. Another is about how you can identify a phishing scam. Also launching this week is Igabytes, a tech column by The Eye’s former online editor and in-house tech expert, Igor Magun.
The internet is like sex. It brings people together and it makes life more fun (there could also be cat pictures). But, also like sex, the internet sucks if you don’t use protection.
So up your game, dear reader. Protect your bytes like you protect your bits.