NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More than 100 female celebrities’ risqué photos have been stolen from Apple’s iCloud service. The service allows users to store pictures, documents and other information to the cloud.
Stars such as "Hunger Games" actress Jennifer Lawrence, model Kate Upton, singer Rihanna and socialite Kim Kardashian were among those whose photos were hacked and posted to anonymous message board 4chan.
The FBI has begun to address the matter and has started questioning those that may be involved, according to Associated Press.
While it is unclear how the photos were obtained, it is definitely a reminder and lesson for us all to up our cyber security to maintain privacy. Each and everyday, we take for granted the vulnerabilities of the Internet.
We have become so accustomed to uploading, downloading, sharing, posting and going about our daily business that we forget about the vulnerabilities that exist.
Even worse, we forget as we post, backup, share or sometimes delete, that we may leave a permanent digital footprint.
So, what can we do to protect ourselves?
If you are anything like my mother, you may choose to forego the use of cloud storage, banking online and social sharing altogether. But hey, this isn’t practical for many of us. So for the rest of us, here are a few tips from some of the experts in the field to protect you in the digital world.
1. Build better passwords
Recent studies have found many security breaches are due to weak passwords. You know the ones… "123456” or “abcdef.”
Yes, seriously, people still use these!
Raj Samani, CTO for McAfee EMEA, says for starters stay away from using family and pets names. “Much of the advice is of course common sense – one option is of course to use a program that will store, and generate complex passwords," he said. "This means that you don’t have to worry about remembering 20 difficult passwords.”
Neal O’Farrell of Creditsesame.com, which also offers free identity protection, suggests using a password manager, like LastPass. He adds, “Consumers are still not getting the message about creating strong and unique passwords, not re-using them, changing them regularly.”
O’Farrell warns to get serious about passwords. “The pain of regularly changing and not re-using strong passwords is nothing compared to the pain of having a weak password cracked," he said. "Stop using the same password for multiple sites. Hackers know you're doing this and they will catch you out.”
2. Think twice
We may have all been careless about sharing, saving or posting documents online with sensitive information. But we simply must think twice.
Samani advises to ask questions before using any cloud service.
“Ask yourself about the level of security that you need in order to feel comfortable,” he says.
We also have to ask ourselves:
- If this account were hacked, would I want this information leaked?
- Could it cause identity theft?
- Do I want to share this personal information with the world?
3. If you just have to use cloud
While some may consider foregoing cloud sharing services altogether, if you are going to use a cloud storage service, O’Farrell advises to encrypt first.
“There are free services like nCrypted Cloud that will encrypt all your data free before you upload to the cloud,” he said.
Encrypting data before storing provides an additional level of security.
Samani suggests if you simply must use any service, be comfortable with the data storing and the level of security it provides.
Otherwise you might be letting it all hang out.
--Written by Kemberly Washington for MainStreet