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Cybersecurity & controlling your digital spaces

We had a very interesting Friday workshop with Ajara I. Pfannenschmidt on how to look after yourself and your digital spaces on line – needless to say I went home and downloaded all sorts of protective software over that weekend!

Viki Johnson was one of the workshop participants and wrote up the workshop for her blog, and we repost it here:

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On Friday I attended one of the scarier talks I’ve ever been to. I learnt about cyber security and taking control of your digital space. It’s something I’ve been aware of and know that I really should pay more attention to, but I didn’t appreciate just how unsecure both my computer and my online data are.

It’s important to stay anonymous online, by using a VPN your IP address is kept safe as it creates a personal network just for you and masks your IP in public places, which is incredibly important for when you’re using unsecured Wi-Fi in cafes or trains. Beyond that you can also use an onion router, like Tor Browser which is installed on your computer and is untraceable, it does make for a slower connection, but will prevent others from learning your location or browsing habits. If you really want to go the whole hog you can use TAILS, an operating system that sends traffic through Tor and leaves no trace, it’s portable and boots straight from a USB.

You also need to make sure you’re browsing safely. Use private browsing, and ensure that your browser isn’t tracking you. Something I was unaware of, is how unsecure autofill and password management are, you should invest in proper password management software (I’ve started using Last Pass, which is free), and means you only have to remember one password. You should also make sure to regularly delete your cookies, as they also store information about you. There are private search engines that won’t track you, as even incognito mode isn’t a hundred percent not tracked.

On your computer, you should ensure that your data is safe. Encrypt your data and back it up on an external hard drive, which should be hidden away from your desk. Use a secure cloud server to back up your data too, no Dropbox and Googledrive are not secure.

Be aware of companies trying to steal your details; never log in through links sent to your email and don’t log into websites with Facebook or Google. Every now and again a new app will generate a word cloud of your top Facebook words or BFFs. You gave those apps full access to your Facebook accounts and now they know everything about you. On that note, you can lie. Unless it’s completely necessary, don’t let sites know your full details; I tend to alternate between Harry Potter’s address and Bag End.

And make sure you’re protected, there is plenty of great free antivirus and malware detection software that will keep you safe and prevent any nasties from being installed on your PC and spying on it, or even holding it ransom.

This is an overview of what we were taught about, if you’d like to learn more about keeping yourself safe online check this awesome guide on cyber security: https://hackblossom.org/cybersecurity/

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Thanks for the write-up Viki!  – you can see Viki’s work on A Little Red Panda.