I was able to attend a webinar with one of my professors, Dan Gillmor, and online security professionals from Convergence Lab, News Co/Lab and the Programa de Periodismo del CIDE. They discussed ways to protect yourself online from hackers and government surveillance. I encourage everyone to use these tips to protect their digital privacy.
“We need to be our own editors of the internet.”-Professor Dan Gillmor
At the beginning of the webinar, a survey was run asking two important questions. The first one was “Have you ever talked about a product with your friends and then been bombarded by social media with ads of that product?” The response was 79% yes and 21% no. The second question was about how important personal security is to each person. There was a tie between respondents saying that personal information was important to them at all costs, and that they would stop using apps or websites that sold their information to third parties (49%) and respondents who said their personal information was important to them, but that they would keep using such apps and websites (49%). A lesser amount responded that personal information was not a priority for them online.
Here are some tips from the webinar to ensure your privacy is protected online and to obtain better web security:
1. Create Secure Passwords
Webinar speaker Leopoldo recommended long, complex passwords that are different for each account. These often include numbers, capitalization, and symbols that would be difficult to guess or recreate. The Google Chrome browser suggests strong passwords that are saved to your Google account; although it is recommended to use a password protector and to type in your passwords every time for the best security. Using 2-factor authentication and double verification is also a good practice to protect important information and further secure your online accounts.
2. Pay Attention to Links & Downloads
Webinar speaking Juan and Leopoldo both emphasized the importance of paying attention to links users click on, as well as what they download. Phishing attempts often involve links and file downloads that can contain malware. Mobile apps can also contain digital threats, so be sure to check the settings and permissions for each app (such as device location, photos, and other personal information). You can also opt out of certain settings.
3. Have More Control
Professor Gillmor and Juan recommended using the Firefox browser for a more secure web experience, as it automatically blocks targeted ads and has higher privacy levels than other browsers. For search, DuckDuckGo is a secure alternative to Google, as it does not collect data on its users. When visiting websites, look for the Https in their address, as this means the website is secure. Users can also opt out of cookies and trackers to ensure their data is not being collected. It is also recommended to update your operating system software as soon as possible.
“There is a balance between privacy and revealing all your data, keeping things safe and keeping people healthy.”– Alexandra, webinar speaker
For more resources, visit Mediactive to enroll in their digital media literacy course. Arizona State University (ASU) also has a new degree program for digital media literacy.