I’ve wanted to talk about this all week and I figured it would be better to talk about it after the dust had settled and the internet had calmed down. The internet is not safe.

That’s right, the little icon you click everyday is filled to the brim with people trying to get your stuff and this week it was made violently clear thanks to some hackers, a hand full of celebrities and iCloud.

you're being watched

Assume you’re always being watched.

If you don’t know what happened a group of hackers have been silently accessing the iCloud accounts of several well known celebrities and stealing photos the celebrities have been storing in Apple’s cloud storage system. On Sunday evening the hackers took to 4Chan and posted albums of these private photos for the world to see. Before we tell you how to prevent this happening to you let’s get something clear,

WE DO NOT CONDONE THIS BEHAVIOUR!

This is theft, whether these celebrities should have known better or taken the risque photos in the first place is not the point, these images were their personal, private property that was stolen and then made available to the world without their consent.

If you think hacking is cool you are wrong, it is a serious crime that could earn you a criminal record.

So what if you aren’t a hacker and you want to secure yourself and all your selfies/food pictures/self made cat memes? We have a few helpful tips.

1. Two-Step Verification

Most online services (Twitter, Facebook, Google Services) offer a Two-Step Verification service whereby you are required to enter a special code that is sent to your mobile number after you have logged in. This is by and large regarded as one of the most secure options when using online services that you fear maybe hacked.

2. Make sure your Password isn’t “password”.

Simple as this seems people have a habit of making passwords easy to remember, this is a bad idea. A password should be random and in no way related to you. You can randomly generate passwords through sites like Random.org or by making your own. One of my favourite techniques is using a sentence and then making it incredibly complex. For example if we take “I Totes Love Iggy Azalea And She Deserves A Grammy Obvs” we make that a password by taking the first letter of every word to make “ITLIAASDAGO” but that isn’t very secure so we use numbers and punctuation marks to make it a bit more tricky to guess so “ITLIAASDAGO” could become “1tLIa45DA0”. Once you have a password checker such as this one to check how safe your password is.

3. Don’t recycle passwords

You should use different passwords with varying levels of security for each site or application you use. For example your password for your email address should be stronger than your password for Facebook. Why? Well most people have numerous accounts on different sites but only use one email address and if people manage to guess your Facebook password which is the same as your email password they have access to any accounts that have been signed up using that password. If you’re worried about remembering all these passwords just use a password keeper. For iPhone you can use PasswordBox for free as long as you only need 25 credentials and for Android you can use aWallet which is also free.

4. Logout

Finished with Facebook for the evening? Checked your email at school on the sly and you’re done now? Logout. It seems simple but most people forget to do this one simple thing. If your account is logged in it becomes a whole lot easier for people to manipulate browsers to find your password. How easy? Below we used a fake password just to show you how easy it is.

 

Password

In the image above you’ll see the login screen with the familiar dots instead of the text. Pay attention to the text in the screen on the left specifically in the grey highlighted area where it says type=”password”

No password

As you can see we changed the type=”password” to type=”text” and now we can see the password clearly. This took a total of 15 seconds to do, so be safe, logout.

5. Be aware of what and where you’re logging into.

Scammers are clever. They prey on your habits and exploit your expectations. Make sure that the site you are accessing is secured properly. How do you know? All browsers indicate secure sites through images and one letter. Look for a lock image and an “s” at the end of the HTTP part of the URL, this indicates that the site is secure and that your stuff is safe.

Finally, in light of the recent events we want to just give you a small bit of advice. If you wouldn’t show it to your parents, don’t put online. That goes for cloud storage, social networks and emails. Even though sites are safe all it takes is a semi-skilled hacker with a bit of determination to break down their defences.

What do you do to make sure your stuff is always safe online? Let us know in the comments below.