The beautiful young star of the Hunger Games movies, 24-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, likes to take selfies.
In fact, some time back, she shot over 60 pictures of herself in rather revealing positions. Unfortunately for Jennifer, she took the pictures with a state-of-the-art Apple iPhone.
Since then, her iPhone has been busy connecting her data to the cloud, backing up pictures, documents, apps, and other data.
In theory, it’s a useful function. As an iPhone user, I have my own iCloud account.
But Apple’s iCloud service was recently hacked, and the photos of Lawrence, as well as those of model Kate Upton and actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, began trading like postage stamps at an online auction. In all, over 100 celebrities had their iCloud photos ripped by hackers.
It’s unfortunate for these celebrities, but there’s a larger point here. You see, most Americans don’t realize that when you put data on the cloud – whether your service is Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, or any of the dozens of competing cloud services – the chances for a data breech grow exponentially.
The Real Problem Is People
One problem is that most Americans have very sloppy password protocols. When you couple that with the terabytes of data being stored on the cloud, people might as well stand naked on the street. And though we can laugh when celebrities’ nude photos are leaked on the internet, we need to understand that the misuse of private data can have serious economic consequences.
The same iCloud accounts that housed the nude pictures likely included email addresses, passwords, social security numbers, and countless other pieces of personal data that could lead to identity theft, or worse.
As I’ve recommended to all of my readers previously, now is the time to strengthen your passwords. Please don’t continue to use your niece’s name. Instead, something as simple as installing a password generation engine (check out lastpass.com, for example) will greatly enhance your online security.
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Next, if a website offers a third-party authentication tool, please use it. I carry the Google authenticator app on my iPhone. It takes a few seconds longer to receive a text message code when you log into a website or service, but your data is much more secure. I make Bank of America (BAC) text me a code whenever I want to make any changes to my login protocols.
Of course, personal data isn’t the only information at risk. Businesses are also suffering from their employees’ indifference to online security threats.
Employers enforce secure passwords, but then an employee writes down the password and tapes it to the file cabinet next to his or her desk. Now, that’s what I call security. Or even worse, they’ll put the written password and username in their wallet for easy access at home.
Billions of dollars are being spent to make the internet more secure, but in the end, most data breaches are the result of unthinking users, customers, and employees. If you take data home to do some work, use your first name in your password, or keep security information in your wallet, I only have one thing to say: Stop it.
Or, if you won’t stop it, marry a supermodel and fill your iPhone with pictures of her in your bedroom. We’ll all be watching.
Your eyes on the Hill,