Jane Anderson Blog | 3 Ways to Protect Your Digital Personal Brand
I don’t know about you, but after seeing the issues that celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence had with their personal photos being leaked led to me being really concerned about private files. Not that I have anything bad (I don’t think!), but it prompted me to go and get some more detailed advice. When I’m nervous about something it tells me I need to understand it more!
In this case, my challenge is that I’m not an expert in hardware and cloud based tools. So I decided to ask a colleague of mine Simon Waller. He’s an expert in helping people move from paper to paperless with mobile technology and is one of Australia’s leading thinkers on digital technology. The great thing about Simon is that he makes the complex easy to understand so I thought if anyone will be able to explain it easily it will be Simon!
Here are the questions I asked:
With what has happened in the US with celebrities having all their personal photos leaked, is it safe to store my private information on the cloud site?
I think when we look at the safety of the cloud we need to understand that this is relative to an alternative that we would use instead. When you say private information, if this is for instance, revealing photos of yourself, the alternative location might be in a shoe box under the bed. If you’re a celebrity, and you have security guards posted outside your property, then under the bed is probably a safer location than cloud storage. That being said, in most cases when we use the cloud, we’re actually using it instead of another digital format.
That digital format might be a laptop, hard drive or a USB stick. These locations come with their own limitations. For instance about sixty percent of USB sticks that go missing have sensitive data on them, and we don’t necessarily password protect or do anything to control access to USB sticks.
If we‘re not a celebrity and we don’t have the best security at our house we might find that cloud storage is safer than what we would be able to afford for ourselves. For instance, Google’s data centres are secured by barbwire fences, they require biometric scanning to get access and all the data in the centres is encrypted. Most organisations, let alone most individuals, don’t take security as seriously as cloud service providers do.
The second question is, are there any programs that you recommend if you’re trying to protect personal photos? Any settings to be aware of?
My understanding of what happened in this situation was that the password was compromised, and it suggested that the password was compromised through what they call a brute force attack, which is basically when a computer tests a series of random generated passwords until it gets it right. Unlike humans, computer programs could test millions of passwords in seconds. Although it has been suggested that this is partly Apple’s fault because they weren’t ‘locking out’ users after five incorrect password attempts. However at the same time as a user, there are also things that we can do to improve the quality of our passwords.
It’s not always just about choosing passwords that include a couple of random characters.
In password protection they talk about entropy. How difficult would it be for a computer to crack that password? A high entropy has a combination of factors including whether we use real words or not real words and the number of characters. Unfortunately most of us choose real words, limit the number of special characters and make our passwords short so they are easier to remember but this approach is ultimately a security risk.
Trying to find that balance between a complex password and one that is simple to remember, is one of the big challenges that we have in terms of protecting our information.
Next question, what are the best ways to protect my files?
In terms of protecting files, I think it depends on the type of information. For a large proportion of our files the cloud can offer a great solution for protecting our files. Primarily because if we tried to achieve the same functionality without the cloud the result would be far less secure.
The advantage of the cloud is the fact that we can make our information available anywhere and provide controlled sharing of information easily with other people. In addition the cloud can provide an ‘offsite’ backup of our information.
To achieve this without the cloud would involve USB sticks, documents being emailed and expensive infrastructure requirements. None of these are inherently safer than the cloud. In fact I don’t think my own information has ever been more secure than it is now. And that’s because I let Apple, Google, Evernote and other cloud service providers help me store, manage and secure it.
But to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of digital tools such as the cloud we need to start developing a better understanding of what they do and how they work. The main work I do is in building the ‘digital intelligence’ of business owners and consultants so they can manage their digital tools effectively. We are seeing a dramatic shift in the way that we work away from analogue and towards digital. And there is no sign that this shift is going to reverse. As a result, I think that the single biggest thing that people can do to improve their information security is get a better understanding of how the cloud works.
Thankfully Simon put my mind at ease that what I had was okay and that I need to go and make some changes to a few passwords so that was a relief. I hope this information helps you protect your digital personal brand!
Love to know your thoughts….
Jane Anderson is a Speaker and Author who works with Sales Managers, Marketing Managers, Thought Leaders, Experts and CEO’s to leverage the expertise of their talent through LinkedIn.
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