How to be Scandal-Proof in the age of data breaches

How to be scandal-proof?

That’s a big question, isn’t it? Because data breaches are on the rise. There have been reports of security breaches using stolen information to access accounts.

In the Philippines, there are 119 million mobile subscribers to which 47% of users are either browsing Facebook or chatting using a free messaging app.

In 2018, the National Privacy Commission requested Facebook to submit a Data Breach Notification Report to identify the 755,973 affected Philippine-based users in compliance with NPC Circular No. 16-03.

The social media company revealed a vulnerability attributed to an exploit of Facebook’s “View As” feature, through which hackers managed to generate access tokens which allowed intruders to log on to affected Facebook profiles using a “key” to ones’ account without having to type in a password.

This incident generated instant reactions from its users that started numerous conversation about data privacy.

In RA 10173, people whose personal information is collected, stored, and processed are called data subjects. An organization who deal with your personal details, whereabouts, and preferences are duty-bound to observe and respect data subjects’ data privacy rights.

However, we must remember that scandals — sexual, political, or simply personal — arise because sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.

Now the question is, how do you safeguard yourself from possible breaches and avoid being the victim?

Here are some suggestions from Viber.

  1. THINK TWICE BEFORE BACKING UP YOUR MESSAGES. There are many benefits of encrypted messaging. One of them is that communications are coded in order to make information available to third parties. When two or more devices communicate via an app, the information will be transmitted using a secret code rather than a plain text. But there’s one point to remember — your scrambled messages are unscrambled when they are backed up to the cloud. Which means, the government can demand your cloud provider — Apple or Google – to retrieve and turn over your messages from its servers.
  2. MAKE SURE YOUR APP USES ENCRYPTED MESSAGING. When you say end-to-end encrypted messaging, it means all messages that are sent from your device to the person you’re communicating with are in the form of a code that only the recipient’s device can translate to plain text. Which makes it impossible for anyone — even the app maker — to see what’s being said.
  3. CONSIDER DELETING MESSAGES YOU NEVER MEANT TO SEND. Viber, for one, offers a Delete Message option that will allow you to delete any message from both the sender and recipient’s device. It will totally remove the message even if it has already been seen. Once deleted, the content can never be viewed again.
  4. USE SECRET OR HIDDEN CHATS, WHEN POSSIBLE. If you want extra privacy when you send messages, use your apps’ secret chat, if it is available. Viber has a Secret Chats option that allows you to set a self-destruct time for every message you send in the chat. The screenshot function is disabled when you are in this mode. But if you want a conversation NOT TO APPEAR in the chat list, then you can use Viber’s Hidden Chats function. These are normal chats kept in a secret section of the app that only the sender can access using a PIN.
  5. KEEP YOUR APPS UPDATED. Lastly, the best practice to make sure your stay secure is to keep your apps updated. Oftentimes software updates are rolled out when app makers find security bug or when enterprising hackers have become familiar with the current code and have already created hacks to break them.

WIth all the prying eyes everywhere on the internet, it boils down to the need to be vigilant when it’s your privacy and security that’s on the line.

Keep in mind to be careful in choosing the app that you use in all aspects of your lives. There’s only one who can protect you from all of these internet mishaps — yourself.


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