Meanwhile, Twitter wants to simplify the sign-in process by allowing users to use their phone number as their identifier across multiple apps. They see this as a replacement for usernames and passwords because only you have access to your phone.
Although different in nature, these developments underscore the importance of online identity management in today’s society. Now that so much of our lives are tied up in a broadband connection, how do we balance openness and privacy? What about issues of convenience and security?
In this post, we aim to give you a snapshot of the online-privacy landscape, and give you some tips as you navigate the information superhighway.
My first tip in this area would be to check your Facebook privacy settings. Whether you love it or hate it, Facebook has become a necessary evil for people spanning multiple generations. One of the big gripes people have with Facebook is its constantly evolving privacy controls.
If you click the little lock icon in the top-right-hand corner of your Facebook feed, you’ll see a friendly dinosaur offering to give you a privacy checkup. He’ll walk you through the basics, including who can see what you post and who can see what your friends post. This will give you more control over your timeline.
Although Twitter is generally thought of as a public platform, it offers the ability to protect your tweets. This cannot be applied on an individual-tweet basis, so it’s all or nothing. If you choose to protect your tweets, you’ll have to approve each new follower.
There are several recent apps that have attempted to bring a measure of privacy back to an increasingly connected world. Snapchat is the first of several apps to have jumped on the short-lived messaging bandwagon. You can send your contacts messages that expire after a limited amount of time.
Also in the fray is Secret. Secret allows you to connect with other users you know. After that, you post secrets that are only sent to people you’re connected with. The person on the receiving end will not know who sent it, only that it was someone in their contact list.
The other piece of the Internet identity equation is protecting the security of your accounts. With passwords, too often we have two or three we remember and use for everything. The problem is if one site gets hacked, you’re up the creek without a paddle.
To help with this situation, try using a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. These browser extensions allow you to create one master password (hopefully strong). After that, the extensions will generate strong random passwords. Signing into a site is as simple as clicking the item in your list.
Another approach to solving the password problem is to pick a site to use as your central hub to authenticate on other sites. You can use your Facebook or Google credentials to quickly sign in to other sites across the web. The obvious drawback to this approach is if someone gains access to either of these accounts, they also have access to any account where you’ve used Facebook or Google to sign in.
This problem can be solved by turning on two-step authentication, especially for sensitive accounts. Once this is turned on in your account settings, you’ll receive a text message or code when you put in the password.
Although it can be a bit of a pain to enter the code every time, you also have the option of trusting a computer you regularly use. This allows you to sign in without the second step in the process. Just be sure not to check this box on a shared computer in a public space.
Another important thing to consider regarding your digital life is what happens when you pass away. If you die, what happens to your Facebook and Google accounts? Who will gain control of your level 57 Paladin in World of Warcraft? Services like DeadMan.io allow users to alert recipients of their choosing if they appear inactive for a certain amount of time. If the user doesn’t respond to a message generated by the service, it will send out the user’s account information to their friends or family members.
Do you have any tips for managing the privacy and security of your accounts? Share them with us in the comments section.
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.