In our beginner section, we touched the topic of compromising privacy on your two most used devices: Your Phone and Computer. In our article Your Phone we talked specifically about a phone and as today’s smartphones are almost just small computers, most of that also applies to this article too.
As the computers are comparatively more open platform than smartphones, attack vectors are also diverse.
- Password/PIN protection is the absolute essential - without this your computer is like an open house, inviting anyone to get their hands on whatever they wish.
- Applications from unofficial app stores and websites are dangerous too. No one checks the validity and integrity there and attackers often leverage this possibility heavily. Sticking with the official app stores and company websites is essential, for any operating system.
- Cracked applications are another source of privacy compromise. Cracks often include malware undetectable by antivirus and antimalware software which gives attackers the possibility to even take over your device and eavesdrop on you. This is particularly important for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, which most of use for our daily desktop usage.
- Using modern protection methods like Secure Boot is essential because they protect your computer during the boot sequence.
- Free Wi-Fi comes at a cost - open Wi-Fi network means the data transmitted is not encrypted and attackers may be able to eavesdrop and hijack important sensitive information such as passwords
- And normal software, such as browsers can be used to alter your privacy too. This is particularly important for computers because they are the main devices for our daily internet browsing activities. Many companies use the unique identification data sent by your browser to track you and serve the relevant content. You can read more about them in our tools section: Browser and below in further reading section.
Enabling full disk encryption is another great way to protect against data leaks. Every operating system offers such a possibility and you can use BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on Mac OS X to do that. Linux flavours also offer a variety of possibilities in this sphere and you can always use a multiplatform solution like VeraCrypt, which can also be used to encrypt individual files, containers or create encrypted volumes too.
Turning off and/or covering your microphone and webcam is also a good practice. There is a real reason people concerned with privacy use webcam covers. Watch the Snowden movie linked below in the further reading section to get more information about this and other real-life privacy challenges in a visual way.
But the most dangerous are malware, particularly on Windows operating system. As it is the most widely used OS, attackers get most benefits targeting Windows, rather than other systems. You should always be careful with unknown files and use security best practices and updated antimalware software to keep yourself safe.