Small tricks can have a big impact on your privacy

Quiet Time

Article from Issue 215/2018
Author(s):

You don't have to dig deep into your toolbox to protect your privacy: With a few simple tricks, you can disable the webcam and microphone and permanently delete data from your hard disk.

Whether you do your business with Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Facebook, large IT companies are eager to collect any information that you happen to toss their way. It is not for charity that corporations operate their own webmailers, search engines, network storage, and online communities: The data from these services can deliver highly-targeted advertising worth billions of dollars.

But it isn't just the big high-profile companies that are testing the limits of user privacy. For example, a smartphone app by a Spanish pay TV provider secretly enabled the GPS function and the microphone of the device and transmitted data (in a poorly anonymized form) to the company's servers. The TV station wanted to identify football bars that broadcast the game without paying royalties, and they enlisted thousands of unwitting football fans as involuntary undercover spooks [1].

Today's devices and Internet services are quite complicated, and unless you wrote the software yourself, you can never be totally sure exactly what it is doing. This article introduces you to some small hacks that you can use to secure your online privacy in just a few easy steps without having to do anything drastic like encrypting you hard drive (which, by the way, only protects you if your computer is not running).

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