Editorial: Always use protection: Sharing digital information a risk

By The Pitt News Editorial Staff

This weekend, a large number of pictures showing nude celebrities were publicly leaked through 4chan. To many who saw the photos on the image-sharing site, it was a very good day. But to others, especially those targeted, it was a major breach of privacy.

This controversy highlights our collective vulnerability in the digital age. 

Nothing sent via Snapchat or stored on any device is private. While individuals should have the right to take any pictures they wish with whomever they’d like without being condemned, we can’t be naive.

Hackers aren’t going away. While hackers should face consequences like other criminals, we still must take steps to protect ourselves from them. 

To start, we should routinely change our passwords. Every few months should suffice. Such passwords should not be easy and predictable — after all, the recent celebrity breach was carried out using many of Apple iCloud’s most common passwords. Using numbers, special characters and capital letters is critical to enhancing the security of our accounts.

Additionally, users’ passwords should not be the same across all platforms. This means your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other accounts should not be accessible by the same password. After all, it’s better to have one account hacked than three.

Admittedly, using a different password for every account can get confusing, so using a highly encrypted password manager — such as KeePass, 1Password, LastPass or Dashlane — is essential to account security. It allows the user to store and organize passwords in an environment protected by a master password, which, ideally, is also complex and strong.

If a user is concerned about iCloud specifically, turning off “photostream” can help. This feature automatically uploads new photos and sends them to all iCloud devices associated with your account. By disabling this function, you can prevent photos from automatically appearing unless you manually send or move them.

Last, never give confidential information away, even to those you consider close to you. If someone asks for personal information over the phone or in an email in an unsolicited manner, you shouldn’t hand it out. This may seem obvious, but a large number of people fall victim to phony calls and emails every day. Do not be one of them.

The unfortunate reality is that private digital information is always at risk of becoming public information. Be careful and protect your accounts, so that you won’t wake up one day to your private life being viewed by the public eye.