This election cycle has been a commentary on life in the 21st century. More-so than ever before, the public has been able to see into the personal, private lives of the candidates. Who they really are has been exposed through leaks. Hackers today have enormous influence because they have found ways to bring to light what the candidates believed they could keep hidden.
It may be hard for most people to relate, since reality TV cameras and private email servers aren’t a part of our daily lives, but there is a great deal that can be learned from the spectacle.
The person who you really are will be visible through your communications. Your emails, texts, calls, photos, videos, and social media activity reveal a tremendous amount about your character. It is important to be thoughtful and purposeful about the image you want to project of yourself to the world.
You should not expect that anything you post or share will ever really disappear, or be deleted. Your behavior online is being logged, analyzed, and may one day be public. It is time to take those implications seriously and think about protecting your reputation.
There are two basic approaches to consider with regard to online security and the transparency of modern communications. For most people it is beneficial to implement as many suggestions as you can from each category.
1) Beef Up Security
There is likely no true way to protect yourself from absolutely any attacker. Having said that, you can be far more secure than the average person by following the tips below.
- Use Strong, Unique Passwords for every app or service. This gets complicated, so using a password manager such as LastPass can help to keep you organized and secure.
- Use Two-Factor Authentication whenever available for things like: Email, Social Media, banking, etc. You can find my recent guide on the subject here.
- Take advantage of the fingerprint scanner, password/pin, or other security function so that you are the only one who can unlock your phone.
- Examine the privacy tools offered by Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media app you use. Understand what your options are so that you never have any nasty surprises.
2) Think Before Sharing
It sounds obvious, but think critically about how everything will reflect on you before pressing “send”. Any form of communication you participate in may one day be: shown in a courtroom, questioned by an employer, or seen by family and friends. Ask yourself how you would feel in any of those situations if you put that post out into the world.
If these hacks have taught us anything, it is that the past often is dredged up years after the fact and can come back to haunt you. Take control of your reputation by doing everything in your power to make sure that you are proud of the person you project to the world.
Sadly, it doesn’t matter who you expect your audience to be in the moment, one day there may be many more people who see it. Remember that anyone who is on the receiving end of your communications can: make a copy, take a screenshot, or save it. Communication is, at the very least, a two-way street, and an attack at either end can expose both of you.
We are living in increasingly transparent times. Try to be the best person you can, and make sure that your digital communications reflect that effort. If you have something unpleasant to communicate, you should really question whether or not it is best to do so online. The worst assumption people make is that a communication channel is (and will remain) private.
The big takeaway is that getting exposed publicly for embarrassing communications is largely avoidable. Use best-practices in terms of security, and common sense when sharing to reduce your risk factors.