Jackie Ferrentino for NPR
Before I became a reporter at NPR, I worked for a few years at tech companies.
One of the companies was in the marketing technology business — the industry that’s devoted in part to tracking people and merging their information, so they can be advertised to more effectively.
That tracking happens in multiple senses: Physical tracking, because we carry our phones everywhere we go. And virtual tracking, of all the places we go online.
The more I understood how my information was being collected, shared and sold, the more I wanted to protect my privacy. But it’s still hard to know which of my efforts are actually effective and which are a waste of time.
So I reached out to experts in digital security and privacy to find out what they do to protect their stuff – and what they recommend most to us regular folks.
Here’s what they told me.
1. To protect your accounts, practice good security hygiene.
There are some steps that make sense for almost all of us, says Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Those include using strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and downloading the latest security updates.
She and other experts make a distinction between privacy and security when it comes to your data. Security generally refers to protecting against someone trying to access your stuff — like stealing your credit card number or hacking your accounts. Privacy is more often used to talk about keeping your movements from being tracked for purposes of advertising or surveillance.
It turns out that the steps to protect your security are more clear-cut than those for privacy — but we’ll come back to that.
Use strong passwords or passphrases for your accounts. Longer than a