There’s so much focus on the massive cybersecurity and data breach or the malware that holds your computer to ransom. However, it’s also important to keep your guard up against some of the lesser-known attacks out there too.
These threats may not have the same high-level profile as an unfixable iOS bug, but they can still do some serious damage as far as your data and privacy go. Here’s what to look out for, and how to make sure you aren’t caught out.
Dangerous USB sticks
A small USB stick may not look very dangerous, but these portable drives can carry a major threat—particularly if they’ve been specially engineered, as some are, to start causing havoc as soon as you plug them in. You should be very wary of connecting a USB drive to your computer if you’re not absolutely sure where it’s from.
In this fast-paced, hyper-connected age, it’s all too easy to forget about all the social media, language-learning, job-finding apps and sites that we’ve signed up for. But every account you leave behind gathering dust is another one that could potentially be hacked into. It’s important to take the time to shut down these accounts rather than just uninstalling the associated app from our phones and then forgetting all about them. If any of them should then suffer a data breach, for example, your data won’t be included.
Unreliable browser extensions
The right browser extensions are able to add useful functionality and features to your daily window on the web, but these add-ons need to be vetted like any other piece of software—after all, they have the privilege of being able to see everything you’re doing online if they want to. Pick the wrong browser extension and you could find it selling your browsing data, or harassing you with pop-up advertising that you don’t actually want. Identify safe extensions the same way you would identify safe apps: Look into the background of the developers, check the permissions that they ask for, read up on reviews left by other users, and stick to extensions that are actually useful.
Compromised online quizzes
You’ve probably seen friends and family take quizzes on social media to find out answers to various questions. They may seem like harmless fun—and some are—but they can also be used to harvest personal data that you don’t really realize you’re giving away. These quizzes can and have been used to build up more detailed profiles of people and their friends, collecting not just the answers to the quizzes themselves but also other information stored in the linked Facebook accounts. Be wary of anything that requests personal information or personal photos from you—like the recently viral FaceApp app.
Cracked photo uploads
There’s nothing wrong with posting photos to your favourite social media channels but think twice about the information that other people can scrap from any pictures you make public—particularly the places where you might live and work. While a lot of apps, like Instagram and Facebook, automatically strip out the location data saved with photos, some, like Google Photos, can keep this data embedded in the file after it’s been shared.
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