By Turing Research Network

November 2020

Author: @link_vector (Twitter Profile). Make sure to follow him on Twitter for regular updates on all things blockchain & cryptocurrency

Defending your digital realm

In one of our previous write-ups we discussed the various steps on how to secure your digital investments, briefly touched on digital hygiene and how to proactively defend yourself in the digital realm.

In today’s post we will go deeper into the subject of digital hygiene, what it is and why it’s important to maintain.

So, what exactly is digital hygiene (also known as “cyber-hygiene”)? Imagine it as waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, combing your hair and getting ready for your day; but rather this time in the digital world that you’re so frequently connected into.

Just like your body needs to be in an orderly state, so does the state of your digital identity.

In essence, digital hygiene is the maintenance, protection and overall good habits for securing your online identity.

Oftentimes we will hear people say, “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?” Well, you should care because most of your personal identifiable information (PII) now resides on the internet.

Okay, so what does that really mean?

Whitepages.com

This seemingly benign website has treasure troves of personally identifiable information that is publicly available. What kind of information? Go type in your name in their search field and see what comes up!

In our situation the author of this article discovered that his mother, father and siblings had all of their addresses, phone numbers, and relatives listed on the site!

Luckily, there is a way to remove your information from Whitepages.com and that link is quietly provided by the site here;

So, what exactly can be done with such information? Take the following example from the popular TV series Mr.Robot.

The main character who happens to be a hacker, Elliot, demonstrates various social engineering techniques and leverages open source (public) information to gain small bits of data about his unsuspecting targets that he ends up successfully hacking.

Need more convincing?

Check out this article on SIM jacking and how clever hackers can social engineer YOUR telephone service provider and gain access to your various internet accounts.

Similar to whitepages.com we have corporationwiki.com which gives public information about businesses, busines owners, business addresses; and for a small fee: social media profiles, criminal records and much, much more.

Corporationwiki.com

Once again a little bit of digging through the site will bring you to the opt-out section where you can remove your information from the site; why we even have to opt-out of some strange website storing our personally identifiable information is beyond us!

At this point we have now given a couple of examples of actual websites that store public information about you, your loved ones or even a business you might own.

To help guide you further throughout your digital journey, below we have outlined a number of steps and techniques (similar to our last write-up) on how you can proactively reduce your online digital presence, protect yourself from being scammed, having your identity stolen, or far worse…

Maintenance and Organization

  • Use a password manager (KeyPass or Dashlane) to store your passwords and set your passwords to be long and complex.
  • Stop downloading unnecessary apps and uninstall the unused ones! Your phone or hardware device is just like a person, the more unnecessary junk you put into it the more likely it will to be get sick or infected with malicious software.
  • Backup your data frequently! Even consider backing up your data to a USB or extra external hard drive.
  • Consider re-imaging your device (or factory resetting it) in order to wipe it clean (after you’ve backed everything up) so that you can start using your machine like new.
  • Try organizing your inbox and unsubscribing from pesky or unwanted spam mail.

Watchful and Cautious

  • Create a throw-away (burner) email account that you can use as a blackhole for unwanted emails, temporary services or non-essential uses. You can also do this with a burner phone!
  • Don’t open emails from senders you do not recognize and always check with a manufacturer directly if there is an update to your software or hardware.

Open Source Intel

  • Request your public information removed from sites like whitepages.com or corporationwiki.com.
  • Reduce your online presence by deleting any unused or unwanted social media accounts (using a password manager can help keep track of what accounts you have online).
  • When signing up for online services or goods (or even in-person), try not to use your real name, phone number, email, birthday or any other identifiable information.

By consistently following these techniques and procedures you can greatly reduce and minimize your online exposure and risk.

Remember, digital hygiene is like art! The more time, patience and willingness that you dedicate to its maintenance and procedures, the smoother your time and transition will be throughout this digital evolution.

Good luck, stay safe and HODL!

By Turing Research Network

Follow us on twitter @turing_research

Our community explores the future of technology defining a new world. We are researchers, bloggers and crypto-advocates who have been in crypto since 2016