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10 Things You Need To Know About Data Privacy

It’s International Data Privacy Day, which proves that internet security is just as important as access to the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web has over the years become a literal giant web that almost two billion people around the world inhabit daily. We have greater access to information  but at the expense of sacrificing certain private details. While it can be said that privacy is dead, here are 10 things you need to know about data privacy and how to protect yourself and your devices while online.


1. Your Data Trail

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Almost everything we do with modern technology leaves a digital trail, and there’s no real way of escaping it as long as it’s connected to the internet. If there are no passwords or certain encryption in place within your devices, your data is less secure and easier to infiltrate.


2. Encryption cracked

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All encryption technologies ( such as https, SSL, VPN and 4G encryption) routinely used to protect online transactions. However, even encryption of various tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo can be cracked, which means our data is not as secure as we always believe it to be.


3. Emails

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Its safe to assume that all free web email services are not 100% secure, including Gmail, Yahoo etc. Fastmail is a secure and recommended choice by many, but be prepared to pay for a more secure email service.


4. Encryption services

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Encryption is the name of the game when it comes to protecting your data privacy. Many years ago, it seemed like rocket science, but today there are plenty of open source applications. These include GPG for Mail, an open source plug-in for the Apple Mail programme. These programmes however cannot prevent the government from demanding your encryption key under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000). There are nevertheless many disk encryption third-party products available that will allow you to encrypt an entire disk.


5. Backup

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There are plenty of cloud services and physical devices to backup your data. However, US, France and UK-based cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud and Evernote have been known to be hacked into by NSA and similar bodies. A number of big companies and Hollywood celebrities can also attest to major hacks into their cloud accounts.


6. File Permissions

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Once you have backed up your data on a device on a regular basis, it’s important to set permissions so that certain people cannot access your files via networks you are part of.


7. Password Protect

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Having a good password that you change over time is a necessary step in trying to protect your data. South African data users are known to be quite relaxed about password, which makes them vulnerable to people decrypting emails and files. Setting a strong password phrase that you can build on and make stronger as you go will help secure your data. Change your password for different accounts and keep changing it (obviously while remembering it).


8. Wireless Transmission


Protect your data while in transit, and only send or store data through encrypted wireless networks, preferably those with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which is stronger than Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP).


9. Steganography

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You can hide data within data using steganopraphy, which for example, can hide a text file within another text file, or mp3 within an mp3. The data is encrypted first and then hidden inside another file through steganography software.


10. PKI, IPsec and RMS

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Public key infrastructure (PKI) use a third party to issue keys and digital certificates, while Internet Protocol Security encrypts data for confidentiality. Luckily, Windows 2000 and later software versions have this sort of built-in support. Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) are also great tools to control what the recipients are able to do with regard to your data.


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