Unless you were paying close attention to China-related news, you probably missed one of the biggest data breaches in history. In early July, a Shanghai police database containing information on roughly seventy percent of Chinese citizens was compromised & for sale by a group of hackers. Twenty-three terabytes of personally identifiable information on Chinese citizens was up for grabs if you had 10 bitcoins burning a hole in your pocket. Everything from personal ID numbers, medical records, & police reports on nearly a billion Chinese citizens were involved in the data breach. This is a very clear wake-up call: you need to be protecting your data. What can you do to make sure that at least the stuff you have control over is secure?
If you want to protect your presence online, you need to make sure that you manage your passwords effectively. Everyone knows that, but not enough people are doing something about it. You need to ensure that you’re not using the same passwords on any of your online accounts if someone gets ahold of your email and password combination on one account, they’re bound to try it on other accounts. Keeping track of all these passwords might seem difficult, but it’s very easy if you’re using a password manager. iCloud has a password manager built into every modern apple device. If tart’s not an option for you, then there are multiple password management services available such as LastPass or DashLane, that offer some sort of a free version to make sure that you keep all of your unique passwords in one place. Most services even offer a strong password generator to make sure that your passwords are complex enough to handle simple guesses.
The United States Federal Trade Commission couldn’t have made it more clear, public Wi-Fi isn’t secure.
Why does it matter? If the network isn’t secure, and you log into an unencrypted site — or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page — other users on the network can see what you see and send. They could hijack your session and log in as you. New hacking tools — available for free online — make this easy, even for users with limited technical know-how. Your personal information, private documents, contacts, family photos, and even your login credentials could be up for grabs.Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice – How To Safely Use Public Wi-Fi Networks
You shouldn’t be using Wi-Fi that you don’t recognize or trust, if it’s a network connection that you don’t recognize at all someone might be trying to communicate with your device for malicious purposes. Even if you recognize the network that you’re trying to connect to, you should always make sure that you’re confident in the security of your network & are that it is using some form of encryption. If you are using a network that you don’t recognize or trust, you should be using a VPN that encrypts your data before it’s sent to make sure it’s not easily accessible.
From a hacking perspective, phishing is a simple concept: Impersonate a website so that you can trick users into giving their username & password. Analysis shows that one in every 99 emails is a phishing attack, most of which will lead internet users to a false website trying to get login credentials or bank card details.
To make sure you’re not a victim of phishing, you need to make sure that the URL of the website you’re using is correct. If a website looks like Amazon but has a URL like www.amazon.xyz instead of www.amazon.com, and you don’t know why then you shouldn’t be logging in there. In today’s age it’s getting harder and harder to identify fake websites but it’s important to make sure that you’re not logging in to a fake website that intends to steal your personal information.
So what’s happening to those who were affected by the Chinese breach? While some of the data was verified by large news sources such as the New York Times & Wall Street Journal, there is still some hope left for those affected. The Personal Information Protection Law that took effect last November is the first attempt from Chinese policymakers to require data collectors to ensure the security of the data they are collecting. The policy could hold the Shanghai police responsible for the hack, but it’s unlikely, given the inclusion of vague exceptions on state authorities that can be used to limit the responsibility of the Shanghai police. For now, though, it’s important to remember that your data online is important & that you need to protect it from all the ways it can be stolen & used against you