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  • I think most people would be surprised

  • at how much information they unknowingly give away online

  • and how that can leave them vulnerable when people like me

  • come along and collect all of that information.

  • It's incredibly easy to track anyone with any modern technology now.

  • It's incredibly difficult for anyone to try and avoid detection.

  • When I went on the run back in the 1990s

  • there was still, just about, a chance to do it

  • because it was very resource intensive

  • for either spies or corporations to track people who went on the run.

  • I'm Scott Helme, I'm a cybersecurity researcher and an ethical hacker.

  • I'm Annie Machon, I'm a former intelligence officer with MI5,

  • the UK domestic security service.

  • So I think many people would be very surprised

  • about what we can find out about them online.

  • I met someone recently where we demonstrated this

  • and with just their name and knowing the general area where they lived

  • we were able to narrow down their social media profile.

  • We have things like the births, marriages and deaths register

  • in the UK where we can look up your marriage certificate

  • or your birth certificate.

  • From there we can see, parents and spouses

  • and we can start to spread out this net of information

  • that we can gather about you from very simple resources.

  • Social media over the last decade has become the spies dream.

  • Back in the 1990s, my job as an intelligence officer

  • was to build up profiles and investigate targets

  • and that could take weeks; trying to get a shape of someone's life.

  • Their contacts, where they worked, their relationships,

  • their views, their activities, their hobbies, everything.

  • Now of course with social media,

  • we just offer it all up for free, voluntarily.

  • I think privacy has changed so dramatically in the last 10 years

  • if we go back 10 years it would have been very difficult

  • to gather information about someone, very analogue, very offline.

  • We may have to collect pieces of paper or documents

  • and now in the digital world it's

  • a click of a finger and a search on the internet

  • and we can have a lot of information about someone.

  • Social is really easy where you can pick up Twitter, send a tweet

  • that my internet has stopped working so I might tweet my internet company

  • or more recently, my water supply stops working

  • and the water company will have status updates

  • and people will comment on them and we now know that all of these people

  • are users of this company's services

  • so if I wanted to impersonate them I could call one of those individuals

  • if I had their number and say, "Hey, Sarah, I'm from the water company.

  • Just regarding your complaint, could we go through account security,

  • could you confirm your postcode for me please?"

  • And I'm then extracting more information

  • using the original tweet as the leverage to get you to trust me.

  • It's interesting to ask, "Who might be spying on us?"

  • I mean, obviously for someone who worked in the intelligence agencies

  • I think of espionage and spying and surveillance in a particular way

  • where you are given targets to investigate.

  • First of all, yes it might be the law enforcement intelligence agencies,

  • depending on what you're getting up to.

  • It could be political activism, as simple as that.

  • Two, it will definitely be the big social media corporations

  • because we are their product

  • and the question is then to realistically say,

  • "OK, what might be the threat to me personally?

  • How can I best protect myself from those threats?"

  • You don't have to be on the run from the government or MI5.

  • You might just want a bit of privacy.

  • Smart phones are little spy phones in your pocket.

  • Turn off your smartphone; ideally leave it at home.

  • Another really good thing for people to look at is the privacy settings

  • on applications on their smartphones.

  • So maybe you don't want an application

  • to be able to look through your photographs.

  • You can go into the settings on your phone and disable these things.

  • So go into your device's settings,

  • have a look through those and just think,

  • "You know, this app doesn't need my microphone.

  • So I'm just gonna turn that off, make sure it can't listen to me.

  • It doesn't need my location, I'm just gonna turn that off as well."

  • And just start to take a little bit more control

  • over all of the information that you're sharing.

  • One thing you can do of course is to invest in older technology.

  • Get an old burner phone

  • that you might just use for phone calls and that's it.

  • Use an old laptop and then a whole suite of privacy software

  • on that laptop as well.

  • Another really great way of protecting yourself

  • if you're travelling a lot using public WIFI

  • at an airport or a train station,

  • they commonly ask for your first name and last name in order to log in

  • what you can do is

  • give them a different first name and last name to log in

  • and you'll still be able to use the WIFI network afterwards.

  • This may sound a little paranoid but when I was in Berlin a few years ago

  • at the height of the Snowden disclosures

  • if you went to parties you were expected to

  • put your mobile phones in a tin, a biscuit tin

  • which then went into the fridge to stop signals going in and coming out

  • to stop the phone snooping on you.

  • I think it's really important that people make conscious decisions

  • about the information that they share

  • because often when we share this information

  • you can never guarantee to be able to take that back.

  • If I send a tweet to a company

  • and I want to make a complaint about their service

  • I may be able to delete that tweet later

  • but everyone's already seen that and knows that I had that interaction

  • so making this conscious decision before I take those actions

  • would help me prevent leaking that information later.

I think most people would be surprised

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How to stop leaking information about yourself online | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/08
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