It’s no surprise that security is a concern in the IT world and there authentication and passwords play a major role. While IT professionals can hardly be accused of being conspiracy theorists, security and worry are always on the mind. This is warranted. Smartphones are now ever-present and since everyone’s connected, then people have a lot of personal data online that hackers can gain access to if we’re not careful. There are some developing trends in stealing personal data that’s just coming to the forefront which everyone should at least have at the back of their mind.
The one seemingly far-fetched theory is that fingerprints could be stolen from photos of your hands. On the face of it, it seems a stretch. Fingerprints are pretty detailed. But so are modern cameras. While conditions would have to be perfect, with the camera focusing on the fingers in ideal lighting and distance, it remains a possibility. Fingerprints can’t be changed like passwords, so having them copied is a real worry. Two years ago, the German Defense Minister had her fingerprints recreated from publicly available photos. While the hacker, Jan Krissler, intended only a demonstration of the limits of fingerprint security and it not being necessarily superior to passwords, it is possible other hackers may not be so civic minded.
A less far-fetched theory (unfortunately) is the practice of doxing. Doxing is when someone’s personal, real-life information is exposed online by others. Phone numbers and addresses are sometimes easy to find online and they can be a real pain if released to a large group. All it takes is one person to share this information on Twitter or Reddit and threatening phone calls and mail will come pouring in. Doxing is usually done as a response to online arguments and depending on the topic being argued, there is no shortage of trolls who will call up and harass.
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Mobile apps collect data. This is known and generally accepted in the cases of some apps. But is everyone aware of what apps are collecting in terms of the data they store? Recently the app Meitu was popular. This app is a photo editor that makes selfies seem cartoon-like. But this app also collects data such as your location, IP address and IMEI number. Not really the expected data you’d want your photo editor to collect. While the company has said they only use the data to improve the app, the fact remains that your data such as authentication and passwords may be collected without knowledge of this happening.
So, two factor authentication and password managers are essential as well as only downloading well-reviewed apps. Furthermore, users should consider adding disinformation when asked unless they actually need to give real information so if they are hacked the hacker only has useless info. Deleting accounts that are no longer needed is also wise. Skipping arguments online may also be a good idea, both for personal sanity and to avoid being doxed. And finally, find photos online of your hands or fingers and remove them. Just in case there are usable fingerprint that could be copied.