For many, 2017 will be remembered as the year of the tech scandal. Some of the highest profile companies blotted their PR copybooks with everything from simple bad practice to full-scale professional negligence. From Uber’s data breach (and subsequent cover up) to social networks having to explain their impact on global elections, there were many occasions where ashen-faced spokespeople had to face the cameras and confess.
In light of this, 2018 is as good a time as any for web users to re-assess their digital relationships – and the companies they use. Though going completely off-grid isn’t quite the way forward, a new year could bring with it new thinking on everything from device ownership to data protection.
Apps, passwords and protecting your personal information
The first suggestion given by independent.co.uk is to delete old and unused smartphone apps. Not only does this free up more space for photos, music or other apps, it can also improve battery life. Furthermore, with the new GDPR rules coming into force shortly, deleting dormant accounts could also give users a tighter grip on their personal data.
Next up, users are urged to think more carefully about their passwords. Though a single password (or variations on the one theme) may make them all easier to remember, this could make life very easy for hackers. After all, if they manage to collect personal information from one account in a data breach, they’re effectively given a ‘master key’ to all other accounts that use the same information. Armed with this information, cyber criminals could do serious damage, even extorting users for cold, hard cash.
Finally, the Independent advises web users to pay more attention to the apps and products that harvest personal information – and exactly what is taken in each case. Facebook, for example, has a whole host of information on all its users, from the celebrities and sports they like, to activities they might enjoy. Google, meanwhile, scans information contained within Gmail and Docs, to identify anything potentially illegal or against its terms of service. Knowing what’s being scanned, and by whom, is half the battle for better protection.
Whether we witness quite so many tech scandals in 2018 is yet to be seen, but just following the three resolutions above will better protect you if, or indeed when, the next one hits.