5 simple tips for improving digital privacy
Privacy is the first level of security. By keeping a low profile, you can greatly reduce the chance of being targeted by malicious actors who want your bitcoin.
And it isn’t as hard as it looks. You don’t have to change your name and move to the wilderness to improve your privacy. Below are some easy tips for boosting your privacy.
Stop giving out your phone number, stat 🤳
There’s a lot more to a phone number than many of us realize. A number used to be just a way to call someone. In the era of mobile phones, however, phone numbers are used for many other important purposes, such as banking and two-factor authentication (2FA).
Phone numbers have also become a major identifier for our digital lives. Just in one day, a user can use their phone to schedule a doctor’s appointment, order lunch, and authenticate into a banking app. Over time, a number can be paired with vast data sets on the open market to create deep personal dossiers.
Sharing phone numbers can be dangerous for bitcoin investors in particular because many use their phones for 2FA on exchanges. If an attacker gets ahold of your phone number, they can manipulate a mobile carrier into porting the number to a device they control, otherwise known as SIM swapping. Once they have your phone number, they can execute 2FA on an exchange and drain bitcoin from your account.
Today, it’s best to avoid sharing your phone number if at all possible, and there are several other tools for communicating privately. Signal is a handy app for end-to-end encrypted messaging, and there are a variety of other tools for using other phone numbers, such as Google Voice and MySudo.
Use different email addresses for different things
Email addresses are another form of contact information you should keep private. Similar to with your phone number, attackers can wreak havoc on your accounts if they manage to wrest control of your one and only email address. If your email address is leaked by a third party, attackers can use it to target you with phishing scams.
Today, it’s easier than ever to limit your exposure with multiple email addresses. Some providers such as Proton allow you to work with several aliases out of one inbox.
And you don’t have to commit to an alias long-term. Single-use email addresses are another smart tactic for easy, disposable communication. If you’re still using one email account, now’s the time to consider rotating to new addresses. Check Have I Been Pwned to find out if you’ve been in a data breach.
Turn off location tracking 🧭
Life is hardly private if people know where you are all the time. Today, the advent of mobile phones has resulted in millions of people carrying a tracker in their pocket everywhere they go. Depending on permissions, apps can track your location even when you’re not using them.
Third parties can infer a lot about you using your location data and timestamps. People have a lot of routine in their lives, so it’s easy to determine the location of someone’s office, home, place of worship, etc. Bad actors can use location data to ensure you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time.Location sharing can be managed in the settings for iOS and Android devices. If you’re someone who uses your phone for navigation, consider downloading maps offline or using a standalone GPS device.
Use a VPN 🧑💻
Whenever you browse the Internet, websites and other trackers can typically view your IP address, which indicates your rough geographic location. Over time, this can be compared against your browsing history to learn more about you.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) allow you to obscure your location on Internet-connected devices, which can be helpful for shopping and other online activities. VPNs are especially useful if you don’t want to be publicly known as a bitcoin investor. If malicious actors can identify where you are and you haven’t done a good job distributing your keys, they could target you “in real life.”
Log off social media ✌️
Have you ever wondered why those social media ads are just a little too relevant? Social media platforms are designed to learn as much as possible about you and help advertisers leverage that data with laser-focused algorithms.
In this day and age, it’s best to assume that everything you do on social media is tracked. Additionally, if you stay logged in on social media, your off-app activity can be tracked in many cases. Log out if you don’t want your social media history following you around on other sites.
Privacy experts often recommend that you avoid social media entirely, though we recognize there is a lot of personal preference around these platforms, and each one is different. Privacy is about using tools mindfully. If you choose to use social media platforms, be deliberate in how you use them. Consider logging off on your computer after each session and avoid using mobile apps. Don’t share anything you don’t want the world to know, such as your real-time location and any specifics about your bitcoin.
Overhauling personal privacy can feel daunting at times, but it’s important to say focused on the bigger picture. Privacy is a discipline where each incremental step pays dividends, and it ultimately results in better security for you and your bitcoin.
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