Synthetic Snake Oil: Online Security Tips
DP83 Deleting Instagram - Considerations And Steps

DP83 Deleting Instagram - Considerations And Steps

March 11, 2020

Your reasons for deleting Instagram can be numerous but there are a few steps and some considerations to make before pressing the big red button. If you’ve been listening to the previous episodes about deleting social media accounts, it should come to no surprise that pressing the delete button only starts the process rather than instantly remove your account.


What’s also worth noting is that since Instagram is owned by Facebook, there are two options that Instagram has: deactivation and deletion. Deactivation of course means that your data will still be lingering around and Instagram can still use it to sell you stuff.


Some other considerations to keep in mind is that you are unable  to get access to your photos, videos, likes, comments, followers, and posts. The exception is if you deactivate your account which you’ll be able to recover that data should you reactivate your account.


The other consideration to make is that when you delete your Instagram account you can’t sign up using the same username or email address again. Much like Twitter, you can change your handle at any time too so no worries there if you plan on coming back.


The final consideration is to make note that you can always turn your account private. If your concern is restricting who can see your content, but are torn on staying or leaving, this could provide the best of both worlds.


To delete your Instagram account is a simple process. It all starts by logging in and going to your settings and going to the delete page. Once there, you’ll need to provide a reason, your username and password. After that, you’ll need to re-enter your password and start the process.


If you don’t want to delete your account and prefer to deactivate it the process is similar. Go to your profile and click edit profile. In there, you should have an option to temporarily disable your account which is at the bottom of that page. Just like with deleting your account, you’ll need to re-enter your password and provide a reason as well. To reactivate your account is as simple as logging back in.

DP82 Deleting Twitter - Considerations And Steps

DP82 Deleting Twitter - Considerations And Steps

March 9, 2020

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is an incredibly straightforward process when deleting your account. Your reasons for deletion can vary but to delete a Twitter account all you need to do is go to your settings and at the bottom of the page there is an option to deactivate your account.


There are a few other steps like entering your username and password again but that’s a safety measure. What’s more important is the considerations revolving around your Twitter account.


First off, like Facebook, you can stop the deletion process by logging into your account within 30 days of pressing the deactivation button. But even after deactivating your account, people can still find your account and previous tweets. This suggests that while you no longer have an account, your information is still on the internet for a lot longer. So if you deleted your account to remove specific tweets, you might be better off finding the tweets in question and deleting them directly.


Secondly, after you delete your account, you have no opportunity to rejoin Twitter using the same account. What this means is you can’t use the same username nor can you use the same email address. So if you ever plan on coming back to Twitter make sure to change the email address and username of your main account if you have plans of coming back. Naturally if you come back using a new account you won’t have the old tweets, followers, images, or lists.


The final consideration I’ll make is if your reason for deleting your account is to change your username, don’t bother about deleting your account. In one of the warning bullets that Twitter has before you start the deletion process reads that you can change your handle automatically. Twitter has made it possible for people to therefore change their usernames on the fly with no worries at all.

DP81 Deleting Facebook - Considerations And Steps

DP81 Deleting Facebook - Considerations And Steps

March 6, 2020

Over the years Facebook has done a lot of questionable things. There’s been the 2016 scandal with Cambridge Analytica and more recently Facebook has admitted that it’s been used as a disinformation tool and allowed people to run fake political ads meant to sway voters.


On top of that, Facebook has turned into a tool where a lot of information is passed around and Facebook is profiting from it in a big way. It’s to the point that people are uneasy, or angry at Facebook and want to delete their account.


While those feelings are certainly warranted, Facebook has not made it easy for us users to delete our account. First of all, Facebook has two methods for us to remove ourselves from Facebook: deactivation and deletion. And while you’d think both of those options are the same there is a huge difference.


Deactivation is the process which opens up the possibility of you coming back with all your data intact. Deletion is the process of permanently removing your data from Facebook and is a time-consuming process.


It’s also worth noting if you deactivate your Facebook account, Facebook makes all of that data available, even if you never return. That means Facebook still profits from your data even though you’re not using it.


Naturally Facebook pushes the deactivation feature more over permanently deleting your Facebook page, but to delete your Facebook account requires a bit of digging. First you click on the arrow in the top right corner and click on Settings. From there click Your Facebook Information followed by Deactivation and Deletion and the Delete Account and follow the steps there.


The steps are simple, but that only starts the deletion process. Facebook doesn’t immediately delete your Facebook account. According to their data policy, if you log in within 30 days you can cancel the process. On top of that it’ll take upwards of 90 days for the process to be fully complete. Even after 30 days of the account being deleted you can somehow log into that old account which makes no sense.


Some other considerations to have before deleting are the fact that you can’t get access to your photos, videos, and messages. You’ll no longer be able to use Facebook Messenger, and some information will still be visible even after you delete your account. Most of that data is messages you sent to people at the time. That being said, retrieving the data can be salvaged if you consider Facebook’s back up feature.


We’ll be seeing similar themes through the other social media platforms when it comes to account deletion.

DP80 Do not uninstall old apps - Delete the account also

DP80 Do not uninstall old apps - Delete the account also

March 4, 2020

Are you the type of person who has a smartphone crammed with various apps that you don’t use? Or are you the kind of person who will delete apps after you’ve grown bored of them?


Whatever the case is, I bet when it comes to delete those ancient apps that all you do is move the icon to the trash or tap on the x in the corner and purge it from your memory. But for right now, I want you to go back and think back to those apps you deleted. Because how you deleted those apps was all wrong.


In many cases with apps, you have likely left an entire account on there: an email address, and maybe a connection to your Google or Facebook account and even a date of birth. Personal data that can be easily taken even though you have removed the app.


The reality is that whenever we decide to remove apps from either our phone or computer, there is still data lingering. Yes, whenever you delete apps you are removing all the data you had on that app and it won’t collect any more. However the data that was used to give you access is still on a virtual cloud collecting dust somewhere.


In cases where no login data is needed or other personal information, you’re safe to delete it with no worries.


However not all apps are like that. They want date of birth, locations, details to various questions and potentially more. The thing is though that app developers will keep that information unless you tell them to delete it. Why they do this is obvious. Apps are all about gathering information so they can provide convenient functions for you.


So why they hold onto your data after deleting the app isn’t for malicious reasons. What their true intentions are stems from revenue. As you know, app developers can make money by selling the information to various advertisers which in turn will target you with various adds. All of this stuff is outlined in apps privacy policies, though they mention it in the most roundabout way.


And so if you decide to only delete the app, the app developers can still sell that information in the event that you needed personal info in order to use their app. I don’t know about you, but that’s more than enough reason to let them know you want your account details removed when you go to delete an app.

DP79 Why Paranoia about Cybersecurity Works

DP79 Why Paranoia about Cybersecurity Works

March 2, 2020

From having a Virtual Private Network to taking extra measures with two-factor authentication, one might think that I’m a bit paranoid about security. I’m sure it’s pretty obvious since some of my advice in previous episodes has been teetering on the edge of saying to never trust anyone outside of your immediate circle ever again.


It may sound like that, but what I’m suggesting is that people do take some measures to better secure themselves. To have some level of paranoia can provide some distinct benefits in terms of cybersecurity.


For one, the Internet is massive and has provided all kinds of opportunities. Some of them are good, but in some cases it’s really bad. As I’ve said before there have been countless breaches and all kinds of information is placed at risk as a result of those breaches. A lot of people’s virtual identities have been demolished due to people and companies disregards to privacy or exercising security measures.


Second, while being paranoid is often seen as a negative thing, the idea of being a little paranoid can keep you on edge. And that level of uncomfortableness can pay off drastically.


Yes, it’s not seen as a good state of mind on the surface, but it can help you to exercise caution and take measures into your own hand. It’s why I recently talked about why it’s worth seriously considering other more advanced security measures. After all, there is a good chance that even secure sites will get breached and you’ll need to find ways to protect yourself.


The final argument I have for why paranoia helps us is that it’s another security measure in of itself. As I’ve suggested above, being cautious of things around us will push us to be more proactive. We will consider advice like tightening up our security further rather than brush it off. In a sense this also changes our overall approach to relationships. We place barriers up and in a sense that can enhance relationships as it takes more effort for us to trust people.


My point is that while paranoia can be blown out of proportion, having some of it in our lives can help us in many cases. It forces us to look at our security, but also the relationships that we have. We can assess the quality of certain measures and have second thoughts on our actions and who we trust.


So stay paranoid, it may come in handy sometime.

DP78 Why Consider Two-Factor Authentication

DP78 Why Consider Two-Factor Authentication

February 28, 2020

Another security measure I’ve talked about is two-factor authentication. Paired up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you’ll have a tighter security than most people. But while there’s been a lot of talk of two factor authentication, this technology is not really anything new.


This technology has been around for a long time but is now coming to the surface because of the number of attacks and breaches we’ve gone through. Both on a business and individual level.


So why are people talking about this technology? Well what I mentioned above is part of the reason, but it’s also worth looking at other considerations.


First the one-factor authentication method is questionable. This the typical provide a password and a username. It’s easy and convenient, but on a cybersecurity standpoint it has many drawbacks. A password as we’ve seen is as strong as how we make it. If it’s an obvious password, people will crack it. Even if your password is a bunch of mixed numbers and letters, if you use the same password across multiple sites, people can access a lot of information if they ever crack it.


What’s also worse is that many sites offer convenience by allowing users to click on the “keep me logged in” button. This too is convenient but poses dangers as that action stores a cookie on your computer with that information. This makes it easier for hackers to get into your computer and get access to all of the passwords.


The second consideration is as the name suggests, a two factor authentication provides another layer of security. It can be displayed in three ways:

  • Through knowledge: something only you know like a username and password.
  • Through possession: something you have on your person physically. Examples are security token, your phone, a PIN, or a card.
  • Through inherence: another physical attribute to yourself. A fingerprint or another biometric trait.


The final considerations is the ample of benefits that two factor authentication provides. Outside of the additional layer of security, businesses and individuals can get other benefits like:


  • More productivity and flexibility: While you do have to go through an extra step to get access to anything, what step you have to take is up to you. Not only that but knowing that the site or network is more protected can ensure you fill it with sensitive information.
  • It lowers costs: On a business level having two-factor authentication can cut costs in tech support and help desks. Why? Because most of the calls to those areas stem from password resets. With two factor authentication, it’s easy to use other measures of gaining access to other areas outside of a password and usernames. For individuals, this measure can block out hackers and others who could take advantage of you by cracking passwords.
  • Lowers fraud: And naturally a two-factor authentication will make it tougher for hackers to get into your accounts and commit fraud or identity theft.


Because of these distinct aspects and perks, it’s well worth considering tightening up your security in this fashion.

DP77 Advantages of Virtual Private Networks

DP77 Advantages of Virtual Private Networks

February 26, 2020

One of the best decisions that you can make to protect yourself when browsing the internet is using a VPN: a Virtual Private Network. I’ve mentioned this here and there in some of my strategies but have yet to explain them and just how powerful these are.


For starters, VPN technology all started when people wanted to protect their online activities and to maintain online confidentiality. Because of this goal, VPN is the precise answer to that desire and thus it’s built specifically for that purpose.


From this, it’s easy to see where you can get a VPN. That is through several businesses online that provide this tool. As soon as you buy it though, you’ll notice a lot of other distinct advantages. Here are some of them.


Firstly you’ll have enhanced security. A VPN’s job is to encrypt data and keep secure and it does that extremely well.


But some other advantages you might not have thought of are things like remote control and the ability to share files. Companies can get a VPN and use that store information that can be accessed remotely. On top of that you can share data for extended periods of time. It’s kind of like having your own personal cloud you can access in certain places and share it with whomever.


Another advantage is that you can bypass filters and unblock websites. If for some reason you were blocked by a website, a VPN allows you to bypass that. The same applies to Internet filters. This isn’t so common on the West, but this gets a lot of use in Eastern countries where censorship is rampant. As an extra measure you can even change your IP address to another country.


And finally, having a VPN will also improve efficiency and bandwidth of the network. Not only that, but it can also reduce costs too. By default, VPNs are not that expensive to maintain. And if you look to a service provider, you won’t have to worry about constant surveillance or setup.


A VPN is great for those who want more security and to protect themselves from hackers. By having a good VPN, you’ll not only improve your security, but also your overall internet experience.

DP76 How to Avoid Fraud Scams

DP76 How to Avoid Fraud Scams

February 24, 2020

Even if people are staying on top of fraud, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Over the world, people are losing millions every year from these scams. Fortunately, there are many practical ways for us to work around these scammers.


  • As a general rule, never give out money or personal details to an unexpected request through any medium. As I mentioned last episode, scammers will do anything to make their pitch seem believable and to get people to act quickly without thinking.

  • Second tip is to do online searches. While the scammer is talking to you, they’ll scam you through various ways. Some of it can be selling products, services, investment opportunities, or may drop a company name. Make a point of searching the name of those items or company. You can also search their number to see if other people in the past complained about that number.
  • Third is to not believe in caller ID. While people see that as a helpful feature in the past, scammers have used it now to mask who they are to appear believable. Don’t fall for it and make a point of hanging up if you answer and they start asking for money or personal details. If you think they are telling the truth, use a genuine number.
  • Fourth is to exercise caution when dealing with people you meet online. Scammers use all kinds of websites to mask themselves. Take some time to get to know them and don’t give them your trust fully. Again scammers want you to trust them and that is the key to them conning you.
  • Finally, whenever you’re making purchases online, make sure the site you are going to is secure. That means it has the https at the beginning  or is identified by a lock. But don’t settle with that. As I mentioned before, do some online searches, look at reviews and dig in deep.


Remember, scammers get caught when we don’t act on our impulses and consider things thoroughly. Exercise caution with phone calls, do some research, and gain control of the conversation by taking things slow.



DP75 There is Hope for Scam Awareness

DP75 There is Hope for Scam Awareness

February 21, 2020

From my last episode I mentioned the recent jury duty scam and we are handling these scams better. This much is true when you look at some of the statistics from the past two years revolving around scams.


What the biggest money maker was for scammers last year was pertaining to bogus investments. This scam was where scammers promote false or misleading opportunities that offer insanely high returns.


I could be going on about the various scams but you can kind of see a pattern here. While the amount of money is definitely frightening, the number of victims is smaller.


It is noted that more and more people were becoming aware and reporting more complaints.


But in my eyes progress is progress and like I said last episode, the fact more people are calling fraud centers is a good step forward.


However this isn’t a reason to be complacent. If there is anything we’ve learned about the jury duty scam calls is that scammers are refining their pitches, using more technology to make these pitches more believable.


Scammers are aware of top security questions and spend time researching people and no doubt have put together a sort of file on you based on what they’ve found. That information is stuff they collect over the years and is highly valued.


So much like a marathon, don’t stop right now and keep going. It’s a long battle, but at the end, the training and the diligence will pay off in the long run.

DP74 Fraudulent Jury Duty Calls

DP74 Fraudulent Jury Duty Calls

February 19, 2020

The familiar scam now has a new twist. Instead of receiving false emails that you’ve been summoned to court for your “misdeeds”, the calls now focus on the fact that you missed jury duty for an important case.


Earlier in November, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Canada issued a warning that people were receiving these automated phone calls pertaining to this particular scam.


Darryl Reuther issued the warning stating “What we want people to know is that under no circumstances does the court ever conduct robocalls or automated phone calls for any purpose.”


He goes on to say “If you receive one of these robocalls relating to jury duty, or an allegation you’ve failed to appear in response to a summons for jury duty, that is a scam and is not a call from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.”


But this new scam isn’t only in Alberta. Reuther noted that this scam has been appearing elsewhere seeing as the courts there have posted a similar warning to this one.


Another interesting aspect though is that at no point is there a prompt for money. Comparing to those familiar emails about being accused of something, the demand for money was pretty clear. In the case of these automated calls no such request was there.


Though Reuther’s theory is that once you make contact with whoever set up the robocall, that’s likely where money will start being asked. The caller is banking on that people would get flustered and wanted to argue with the “court” that the accusation is unfounded.


If you receive any of these calls, hang up and report these calls to an anti-fraud center.


Regardless of the situation, how this scam is handled was significantly better than the past. And while that pushes scammers to be craftier, it also means that people are catching on to how much of an impact these nefarious tactics cost.

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