Ever since the 2015 revelations that Canada’s electronic spy agency has been intercepting and analyzing data on up to 15 million file downloads daily as part of a global surveillance program, Canadians have been much more aware of their data and privacy online. More recently, some users have become apprehensive of Huaweii’s popularity in the North American country; the cell phone giant has invested a total of $500 million in research and development, has research facilities in Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver, is providing high-speed internet to remote areas of the country, and employs about 1,100 people in Canada proper.
This has Canadians worried about who is seeing their data— and when. One of the recent tactics used by private users is the act of covering their laptops cams when not using them. This strategy grew in popularity back in 2015, when both FBI Director James Comey and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted to actively taping their computers in attempts to prevent them from being accessed by unsavory entities vying for access to your personal information. But does sticking a post-it note on your laptop really protect you from internet hackers?
Yes and no. While in theory the technique does, in fact, prevent anyone from infiltrating into your computer’s camera and seeing or recording video, it does little to protect in your overall internet privacy. Motivated hackers can still access and record you via your laptop’s built in microphone. They still have access to any and all files you might have saved onto your computer. And these days virtually everyone has multiple, high definition cameras which accompany them every day in their pockets. Our phones are constantly with us, being opened and used for up to hours daily. Hackers can also snake their way into our mobile devices, receiving oftentimes even more sensitive information than what’s available on our computers.
So what can Canadians do to keep themselves and their data protected in an age where technology—and our data— constantly surrounds us? Well, there are a couple of things. Putting tape over your laptop camera, while minorly effective at preventing unwanted video recording, can render the accessory completely useless. Experts suggest having a detachable webcam device, which rests on top or to the side of your computer and which can be unplugged once you are done using it. Preventative measures, such as two-step authentication and regular password changes, can protect you from phishing attacks.
The biggest action a private user can really take, however, is to have a trustworthy security software installed on all of your devices. Only professional coding has the ability to hack low to mid-level hackers by setting up encryption, firewalls and locked access on your data. Modern-day software specializes in specific parts of data security, such as loss-protection and mobile security.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to consider how much your data privacy matters to you, and how much time, energy and money you’re willing to spend to protect it. Unfortunately in an age of internet and social media, where digital advertising revenue reigns supreme, it’s very likely you already have a pretty large digital footprint (although there are some ways to remove it). If the hassle of taping your computer gives you a sense of privacy and security, by all means stick away; just remember to get some solid software installed to back it up.