I recently asked the IT and tech workers of the BuzzFeed Community to share some of their advice and general knowledge about keeping devices like phones and laptops safe.
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It was...eye-opening, to say the least.
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Honestly, it kind of makes me want to throw most of my electronics into the ocean.
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Here are 15 things to know about your devices and their privacy (or complete lack thereof):
1."I don't care if you get irritated with multi-factor authentication. It keeps your accounts protected. Also along those lines, quit using the easiest passwords known to man. And for the love of God quit using your birthday as your PIN number at the bank."
"Other things that make for a bad PIN: any part of your phone number and any date that can be found on your social media!" —birdsofafeather
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2."We’re not magicians. There are a ton of different reasons your machine isn’t doing today what it did yesterday. Please let us ask specific questions and troubleshoot without getting so impatient. We’re going as fast as possible."
"And honestly, a lot of the time the problem is that you are reporting wrong or don’t remember accurately or did something wrong and we are trying to be polite about it. So just take a deep breath and let us do our work." —catherinecombs
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3."A good general rule: If you’re not paying for something you’re not a customer, you’re the product. Your info, habits, and history are being exploited and sold in some form. (Google, Facebook, TikTok, etc.)"
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4."Everything has an audit trail. Don’t say that you didn’t do something when I can see in the audit trail that you did. Or tell me you did stuff working at home and then I see you haven’t logged in."
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5."We know when you're lying. We know what it looks like when a computer has spyware and how that differs from a virus. A virus needs action from you in order to do anything. So saying 'I was just reading email!' or whatever doesn't do anyone any good. Just be honest with us and we will help you."
"And this might seem silly, but you can actually reboot a mobile device. 99% of issues with your phone or tablet will be resolved by you restarting it. And no, just pressing the power button once isn't shutting it off — that's just putting it to sleep. For most devices, pressing and holding the power button will give you an option to restart it." —maetelle
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6."You have none. No privacy at all."
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7."There is no such thing as privacy if you are using a company device. I can see your texts and your emails. Save the sexting for a personal device."
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8."Please don't try to watch porn on your work laptop. We might not be able to see what you're doing but we can definitely see when you try to go to a blocked site."
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9."VPNs work!!! In my job, I can see your activity on the site but if you use a VPN I can’t see where you were when using it."
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10."A lot of the 'security' features that Apple and Google release are honestly less about actual security for you as the user, and more about locking down information to make it difficult for companies and products to advertise without going through Apple/Google ad networks so that they get a cut."
"And this applies to companies and advertisers of all sizes from small to Facebook. Apple iOS 14 was a direct and blatant attack on Facebook." —violetbaudelairegt
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11."I worked as corporate tech support and currently work for a cybersecurity firm. The IT administrators at your office have visibility over anything happening on their network. This includes what you do on your personal device while on company Wifi (not any data stored on the devices, but the websites being visited or certain applications running on the device)."
"Keep in mind though that it isn't to spy on you, but to prevent threats from coming through your personal device to the corporate environment leading to potential breaches of confidentiality, loss of data, etc. On corporate devices though, everything is monitored — files on the device, websites visited, people contacted. It's all part of the fine print in the paperwork you sign when you join your workplace." —khadzh
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12."The GPS location of where a picture was taken with a smartphone is embedded within each photo. So if, for example, you’re flirting with someone but don’t want them to know where you live yet, be sure to remove this info from within your photo app before sending them a picture!"
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13."People like to think that computers are permanent solutions to keeping documents and photos but they're not. Hard drives can fail and bitrot/data degradation is a thing so your files can lose quality and corrupt over time. It's smart to keep your important documents on paper and through multiple digital backups."
"Also if you are putting anything on paper — passwords, PII (personal identifying information), etc. — make sure you dispose of it properly if you don't need it anymore." —sarah2431
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14."Most credit card and personal information has already been stolen — people estimate over 80% of all cards are known. You can protect as much as you want, but the likelihood is that they already have your number and it's just a crapshoot as to if it gets used or not."
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15."Tech companies track every little thing you do and it’s basically impossible to stop them."
"And no, using a private browser just means your device won’t remember things such as history or login information. It does not mean companies cannot see what you’re doing." —Yes
"The number of people who don't understand incognito browsing drives me absolutely bonkers lol." —violetbaudelairegt
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