Best Lessons From 6 TED Talks On Privacy And Cybersecurity

Last Updated on

Have you ever watched a TED Talk, either online or at a TED event? TED Talks are fairly short presentations or speeches on a variety of topics, which are meant to motivate you to take action. Some of the topics are security, privacy, surveillance, encryption, hacking, and the Internet. I’ve watched many of the talks on these topics, and I chose 6 that contain lessons you can learn from.

TED Talks On Privacy And Cybersecurity Lessons

Here are 6 TED Talks I found helpful for their lessons about digital privacy and personal cybersecurity.

Please note that I don’t endorse everything these speakers say, whether about technology, politics, or economics.

How to avoid surveillance … with the phone in your pocket (Christopher Soghoian)

  • The US telephone network has surveillance built-in. The US government could listen to your calls, as could any other government or entity that breaks into the phone network.
  • Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime use strong encryption so they can’t easily be wiretapped. Even Apple can’t see your messages.
  • WhatsApp uses strong encryption and can’t be easily wiretapped.
  • If we weaken technology to allow law enforcement to wiretap suspected criminals, that weakens privacy for everyone and makes it possible for anyone to be wiretapped (by anyone else).
  • Use encrypted communication tools to protect your privacy.

Private Internet Access: Anonymous VPN Service
$39.95

Private Internet Access provides state of the art, multi-layered security with advanced privacy protection using VPN tunneling. It helps block unwanted connections, hide your IP address, and defend yourself from data monitoring and eavesdropping.

We may earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

How data brokers sell your identity (Madhumita Murgia)

  • Data brokers collect, package, and sell detailed profiles of individuals based on their online and offline behavior.
  • Data brokers combine your private info (Google Maps searches, Google searches, Facebook usage, credit card transactions, shopping habits, health info, location info, etc.) with public info (real estate records, tax records, voter records, etc.) to create a profile of you.
  • Online anonymity is a myth. Your postal code, date of birth, and gender can be traded without your permission.
  • A Harvard study found that 87% of Americans could be uniquely identified from 3 facts: ZIP code, date of birth, gender.
  • Cambridge Analytica used cookies to track Americans around the Web (websites visited, searches performed, videos watched) and created a viral Facebook quiz to collect personality data. They collected data on about 20 million American voters, with an average 5,000 pieces of data on each person. They targeted Facebook ads to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
  • Your personal data can influence your future: your child’s college admission, or home or car insurance premiums.
  • Your personal data (social media activity, health and fitness, home energy use) can be used to predict whether you’re a trustworthy driver, a good employee, or a good credit risk.
  • Being aware of the data being collected about you helps you better protect your privacy.
  • Consider whether free services (store discounts, etc.) are worth the privacy you’re giving up.
  • When apps request permissions, deny the permissions they don’t truly need.

A vision of crimes in the future (Marc Goodman)

  • Criminals usually adopt technologies before law enforcement.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will soon be the “Internet of Things to be Hacked.” More connections equals more vulnerabilities.
  • All operating systems and technologies have been hacked. None are invulnerable.
  • Consider: what if one of your medical devices (cochlear implant, diabetic pump, pacemaker, defibrillator, etc.) was hacked?

I recommend Goodman’s book, Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It.

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It
$11.99

From one of the world's leading authorities on global security, Future Crimes takes readers deep into the digital underground to illuminate the alarming ways criminals, corporations, and even governments are using new technologies against you.

We may earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
July 3, 2020 10:05 am UTC

All your devices can be hacked (Avi Rubin)

  • In 2008, researchers demonstrated several attacks against a wireless defibrillator, including disabling the device and inducing defibrillation.
  • Researchers were able to attack cars by applying brakes, disabling brakes, and installing malware. They were able to compromise several car computers and compromise all wireless software on the cars. They were also able to eavesdrop on conversations within the cars.
  • People tend to adopt new technology without considering security.
  • Be aware that devices can be compromised; any software will be vulnerable and have bugs.

Eset: Antivirus, Antimalware, and Internet Security Solutions
$39.99

ESET provides advanced security for all your Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux devices. It blocks and eliminates even the most advanced threats.

We may earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

How tech companies deceive you into giving up your data and privacy (Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad)

  • The electronic doll “My Friend Cayla” recorded audio of children (and anyone else within range), which could be shared with unnamed third parties for targeted advertising. Also, anyone with a phone within 60 feet could connect to the doll.
  • Terms of service often grant companies access to your personal data. For example, a popular dating app grants access to your Facebook photos. Read terms of service before you agree to them.

The Five Laws of Cybersecurity (Nick Espinosa)

  • Everything is vulnerable in some way. Never assume something can’t be hacked.
  • Question the infrastructure and people you encounter online. Don’t blindly trust them.
  • Be careful when using new technologies, which haven’t yet been hardened against attacks.
ted talks on privacy and security

What You Should Do

Here are a few lessons I recommend that you learn from these TED Talks.

  1. Use encrypted communication tools to protect your privacy (e.g., Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, WhatsApp, Signal, Wire).
  2. Support encryption and other privacy technologies for everyone.
  3. Consider whether free services (store discounts, etc.) are worth the privacy you’re giving up.
  4. When apps request permissions, deny the permissions they don’t truly need.
  5. Research the security and privacy of IoT (Internet of Things) devices before you buy them. After you buy them, lock them down.
  6. Research the security and privacy of any medical devices you (or your family members) use, especially implanted ones.
  7. Consider waiting to adopt new technologies until they’ve matured, to avoid security and privacy breaches that often come with new technologies.
  8. Research the security and privacy of electronic toys before you buy them. After you buy them, lock them down.
  9. Read terms of service (or see what others say about) before you agree to them.
  10. Question the infrastructure and people you encounter online. Don’t blindly trust them.
  11. If you’ve seen any good TED Talks about digital security or privacy, please leave a comment!

2 thoughts on “Best Lessons From 6 TED Talks On Privacy And Cybersecurity”

  1. It’s scary to know that hackers can so easily steal your data online through items in your home that you wouldn’t even think of, such as children’s electronic toys and new technologies. My wife and I are moving to be closer to our grandchildren and the thought of having such an innocent looking toy listening in on our little angles terrifies us. We’d be heartbroken if anything happened to them! We’ll be sure to keep these tips, tricks, and facts in mind as we search for someone to analyze our current state of cybersecurity. Thanks so much for sharing; I feel safer already online!

    Reply
    • Ethan, you’re right that there are many digital dangers that people aren’t aware of. That’s part of my mission; raising awareness. Of course, being aware of threats isn’t worth much if you can’t protect yourself from them. That’s why another part of my mission is teaching people to defend themselves (and their loved ones) online. I’m glad you found this post helpful, and I hope you’ll follow Defending Digital to keep learning!

      Reply

Leave a Comment