Web and Mobile Security: Keeping your PRivate data, private

The recent crimes involving the theft of private and personal photos of several celebrities from their Cell Phones has brought personal device security back into the spotlight. In this climate of security challenges and risks, we do our best to keep you informed on how to stay protected.

These were crimes, and don't fall into calling them just a hack, or theft, these were flat out sex crimes. They were perpetrated by an individual who utilized a flaw in the "Find My iPhone" software, using a brute hack tool to crack the password of several celebrities and steal private, compromising images of them, to be put onto the internet. Violations like these are a clear reminder of how careful and diligent we all need to be about security of our data. And before I get into how to protect yourself, please note, WE ARE NOT BLAMING THE VICTIMS. These were flat out sex crimes, total violations of privacy. In our eyes these security breeches and thefts are akin to sexual assault. When identified and caught, this person needs to be prosecuted as a sex offender in our books. That said, there were a couple of things that can be done to protect YOUR data and media from being at maximum risk. 

Use the security features of your phone

Though the intrusion in these celeb photos was done through iCloud, iCloud itself is actually very secure when used properly. In most cases their phones had no passcodes or TouchID activated. If you are an iPhone user, make sure you are using your TouchID, and Passcode lock.


Multi-Factor Authentication

Use 2 Step of greater authentication on your Email and any other app that you send personal data through. The additional layer of security can help in a major way. All major email providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo offer 2 step verification 


Encryption Apps

iPhone and Android users have a variety of encryption apps available to help them hide data on their phone. These have varying levels of success, but Vaulty happens to be one of the better ones.


Internet & mobile security is a major issue, and we all need to be diligent. As TIME writer Justin Worland puts it "The only way to completely protect yourself on the internet is to stay off it. But if you want to continue living in the 21st century, use two-step verification. Apple’s iCloud is just one of many services where you can set your account so that it asks you two personalized questions before you can access it. This makes it much, much harder for hackers to get where you don’t want them."

We all deserve the personal freedom to take personal and private photos, and share that media with that special someone. But in today's climate of security, we all need to be diligent to protect them against the prying eyes of potential thieves and predators.

How to make Facebook Suck Less

Facebook sucks. It lets your friends spam you with annoying app invites, tells all your contacts when you’re online so they can harass you, and bugs you about your old coworkers' birthdays even though you haven’t seen them in three years. Facebook is a class over-sharer.

The good news is there’s a way to get Facebook to shut quit being a gossiping Gertrude. The bad news is, well, there isn’t any... As a matter of fact, all of these things might get you to love Facebook again; it's really an invaluable utility for most of us, and one that can be enlightening, funny, and interesting. But before it can be those things, you have to turn off all the things that make you hate it. Luckily, that's just a click of a few buttons away, so let’s get started.

(Cr)App invites

Invitations to install apps or join games are the number one most frustrating feature of Facebook. Depending on how addicted your friends have become to the time-sucking titles on the site, you could be bombarded with invites on a daily basis, and most apps make it way too easy to spam an entire friends list with annoying alerts. It’s time to put an end to this nightmare.

Open your Settings screen on the Facebook Web client and click on the “Blocking” tab on the left sidebar. Under the heading “Block App Invites,” type in the name or names of anyone on your friends list who needs their app invite privileges revoked. You may also laugh maniacally while doing this, though that is entirely optional.

You can use this same page to block specific apps from contacting you entirely (goodbye forever, Mafia Wars!), and even prevent your friends from sending you event invitations, though those are typically far less frequent than the app invites we all know and loathe.

Happy birthday to no one!

It’s your birthday? That’s great! Nobody cares. OK, OK that’s not true. There are probably a few people on everyone’s friends list who actually care about that person growing one year old, but those they likely already knew about the special day without being reminded of it. Unfortunately, the majority of Facebook users seeing each birthday alert probably couldn’t care less, and for those people, it’s easy to silence the unnecessary birthday cheer.

Once in the Settings menu, click on the “Notifications” tab. Next to “Birthdays,” click the Edit button and then click “Off.” Now go blow out your candles.

While on the Notifications page, you can also silence any annoying group notifications you might be getting, change how often Facebook sends you emails, and silence the cringeworthy alert sound that has undoubtedly blasted your ears a time or two… or two thousand.

Kill the chit-chat

The chat feature on Facebook is fantastically convenient, but it’s also an open invitation for your most annoying acquaintances to pop in for a quick word. There’s nothing worse than seeing that message pop up and knowing that the other person knows you’re ignoring them. Avoid these awkward moments with a simple tweak.

In the main chat list on the right side of the page, click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner and select “Advanced Settings.” Now you have the option of either turning chat off completely, turning it on for just a few friends, or only blocking specific users from seeing that you’re online. Whichever option you choose, you can now feel safe logging onto Facebook without fear of facing an uncomfortable chat request.

Or... just kill the read receipt

If you don't want to go through the hassle of entering names or groups of people who you don't want to chat with, you could at least turn off the read receipt so they don't know you saw their message. Well Facebook provides no in-app way to do this (surprise!) but there are a number of extensions you caneasily install that get rid of that horrid "Seen" prompt altogether.

Unfollow is your friend

You hopefully know this by now, but: You can always unfollow someone. If the political updates, look-at-me calls for attention, or Vaguebooking ever gets too much for you, all you have to do is find the little drop-down icon in the right-hand corner of someone's status update, click "I don't like this post",

unfollow 1.PNG

Facebook will ask you some questions about why you did this. Follow the prompts and you are all done..

(FYI, it will also ask, in this series of questions, if you want to tell the person you unfollow why you did so. I suggest you not do that!)

The impossible dream: A true News Feed

We all know that the News Feed is Facebook's playground, that what we see is very determined by the social network. If you didn't know that, then I'm sorry to spoil the illusion for you. But it's all very formulaic, so to switch things up, you have a few options. Option one is killing the thing entirely; here's an extension that shows you your Facebook, without the News Feed. For anyone who feels like the News Feed is annoying or distracting them from actually using Facebook, it's a great solution.

There's also option two, which lets you view Facebook not by what it determines to be the most interesting things for you on the News Feed, but by the most recent. You're not seeing a true chronological representation of the News Feed, but it's as close as you'll ever get.


Sick of being tagged in random updates or horrible photos? This one is (relatively) easy. Head to your privacy settings, then "Timeline and Tagging." When it asks if you want to review posts your tagged in before they show up, make sure that is "on."

The last straw

If all of this isn't enough for you, if Facebook is still driving you crazy, then try an extension like SocialFixer. This tool lets you customize Facebook (in your browser, that is) to the Nth degree; you can even change the color scheme if you want. But it has options that also let you get rid of Timeline and bring back your old profile.