I’d like to share with you online privacy advice from the book The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online by Violet Blue.
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Book Review & Summary
This book contains online privacy advice aimed at females, but it’s relevant to males as well. It’s for mature readers, given the frequent mentions of sexual topics and profanity. It’s a bit dated since it was first published in 2014, but even taking that into account, it’s not as informative or helpful as other online privacy books I’ve read.
Blue, an investigative journalist, describes the book as
… a guide to making sure you don’t share too much. You’ll learn how to look good to potential employers (or potential dates) and safeguard your privacy from sleazy marketers, unethical megacorporations, scammers, stalkers, bull**** artists, and anyone who wants to silence women online.
She explains that,
The sad fact is that women have more reasons to be concerned about online privacy than men do, because women are at greater risk for physical violence and are directly targeted more often than men. … Women are more likely than men to be singled out online for stalking, harassment, invasions of privacy, and threats of physical violence.
Sadly, she speaks from personal experience:
I was cyberstalked, threatened, abused, and harassed online by two creeps (a man and a woman who met each other while attacking me) for over a year.
Here are my notes from each chapter.
Use different email addresses for different online accounts. Set them to forward to the address(s) you check.
View your social media profiles as someone else, then adjust the privacy settings.
Put tape, sticky notes, or stickers over all cameras (phone, laptop, tablet, Kindle, etc.).
Never scan or photograph your ID and send it to anyone online. You’re not legally required to show it. If you must send it to someone, black out your photo and ID number.
You Got Hacked
If you have a website, enable WHOIS privacy.
Don’t link apps to social media accounts. If someone cracks one app or account, they could get access to others. Think carefully before allowing apps to access your Google and Apple accounts.
If you need data recovered from a hard drive, use a reputable company like DriveSavers. Expect to pay $1,500 or more.
Drown unwanted online content about you by producing more positive content about yourself.
ReputationDefender is the biggest business doing reputation cleanup.
Consider using privacy companies such as Abine, which remove your private information from people-search websites.
What to do if you suspect identity theft
- Freeze all compromised accounts.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit.
- Order your credit reports and note anything that is incorrect.
- Create an Identity Theft Report with the FTC.
- Use your credit reports and Identity Theft Report to fix your credit reports and get information about the thief.
- Call appropriate authorities (IRS: 1.800.908.4490; Social Security Administration: 1.800.269.0271).
- Alert businesses involved in fraudulent charges.
If your device is lost or stolen, change your passwords for the accounts that can be accessed from that device.
Before you pass a phone on, wipe or reset it. Wipe or remove the SD card. Remove the SIM card.
How to Share
Before you permanently stop using a site, delete your account; don’t just disable it.
Before you pass a device on, check the device manufacturer’s website for steps to permanently delete its data.
Dating and Sexytime
Privacy browser plugins and extensions
- Adblock Plus: Blocks ads and tracking for most advertisers.
- AVG PrivacyFix: Manages all social media privacy settings.
- Blur: Blocks tracking, password management, disposable email addresses, and much more.
- BugMeNot: Bypasses the sign-in on websites that require your info to simply read a page.
- Cocoon: Blocks tracking, offers disposable email addresses.
- Disconnect: Blocks Facebook tracking.
- Do Not Track
- DuckDuckGo: A non-tracking search engine.
- Ghostery: Alerts you to bugs, tracking, and ad networks on sites you visit but can be overwhelming and controversially resells anonymized user metrics.
- HTTPS Everywhere: Enables encryption automatically on sites that support it.
Try one-time use, disposable credit cards.
Consider a Masked Card. Blur allows you to create unique, disposable credit cards in specific amounts. They work like prepaid gift cards.
Set up a mailing address that’s different from your home address to minimize risk of identity theft, stalking, etc. Rent a mailbox at your local post office or somewhere like a UPS Store.
Consider a free VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number. You can forward it as necessary. Skype is inexpensive, and Google Voice is free. Another option is a disposable masking phone number service like Burner, which lets you create a temporary phone number.
Mailvelope is a browser extension that allows secure email.
Keep online messaging secure with Off-the-Record (OTR) messaging.
To limit tracking by Facebook and similar sites, use them in a separate browser, or use browser extensions that block Facebook’s cookies.
I Hate Passwords
Refuse to provide your passwords to anyone who asks for them, unless you know it’s against the law not to. It’s illegal for employers to ask for your personal passwords.
If you found this summary helpful, then read the book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online by Violet Blue.
What You Should Do
Here are the top tips I’ve selected from this book.
- View your social media profiles as someone else, then adjust the privacy settings.
- Put tape, sticky notes, or stickers over all cameras (phone, laptop, tablet, Kindle, etc.).
- Use a password manager like 1Password, LastPass, KeePass. See my post on LastPass.
- Don’t link apps and sites to social media accounts. If someone cracks one app or account, they could get access to others. Think carefully before allowing apps to access your Google and Apple accounts.
- If you suspect identity theft, follow the steps described above.
- If your device is lost or stolen, change your passwords for the accounts that can be accessed from that device.
- Enable the anti-theft features in your device, or consider third-party anti-theft apps from Lookout, Kaspersky, McAfee, AVG, Where’s My Droid, and Prey.
- Before you permanently stop using a site, delete your account; don’t just disable it.
- Before you pass a device on, check the device manufacturer’s website for steps to permanently delete its data.
- Before you pass a phone on, wipe or reset it. Wipe or remove the SD card. Remove the SIM card.
- Install one or more privacy browser extensions. See those listed above, and also consider Privacy Badger.
- To limit tracking by Facebook and similar sites, use them in a separate browser, or use browser extensions that block Facebook’s cookies.
- To minimize risk of identity theft, stalking, etc., consider setting up a mailing address that’s different from your home address. You can rent a mailbox at your local post office or somewhere like a UPS Store.