No doubt, you have heard about the recent high-profile photo leaks by an entity called 4Chan — maybe you even accidentally saw a nude photo of Kate Upton, or others which were leaked?
This is chilling because it happens to non-famous folks, too. It may have happened to you already, but like so many others this news does not reach one immediately. The question is, how can one be infallibly safe against having private pics indiscriminately passed around the Web to strangers?
It may be helpful to take it from three familiar angles, based upon media coverage of these breaches of celebrity photos. Before we do that, maybe we should dwell for a moment upon the most obvious precaution that anyone can take.
You expose an image of yourself (in whatever pose, clothed or not) at your own peril — you cannot assume it is possible to keep the image private unless you produce or ‘expose’ the image without help from outside.
Back when people used cameras loaded with film rolls, those rolls had to be dropped off at a lab, maybe even a small one inside the supermarket. Young clerks would see and access all your images.
So, too, in the present day whenever we use an online image service or a mobile camera that has auto-sync settings turned on. But even though images might be kept on private devices, if the device itself is running apps or programs and online, then any content is vulnerable.
If you wouldn’t go to a public strip joint and show your stuff, you probably shouldn’t store any image of yourself you don’t want public on a networked (online) device or computer.
The main danger in social networks is what may happen after you upload embarrassing photos without carefully adjusting the privacy settings. Still, why upload embarrassing photos at all?
Keep in mind that others may take those photos of you, then share them on Facebook indiscriminately — maybe not even tagging you properly or at all so that you can spot and report the images.
TIP: Whenever possible, use some sort of ‘two-factor’ or double-stage authentication to protect your social network accounts.
This could involve both password and a security question and/or a visual clue. It is rather expensive and complicated for any online network or service to properly verify each of millions of users logging in every day, such that these extra steps may not be standard.
You may need to step in and voluntarily sign-up for extra security measures for your logins. Again, this may be a drag for you, but, at least you stay safe from having personal content dragged around online.
The main thing to remember for security’s sake is to always choose unique logins and passwords for each account or online service you use. It may seem laborious, however, it is simply necessary.
If those devices are subscribing to cloud services (which, yes, are handy because you don’t have to download photos by hand) then you’ll want to read below carefully.
iCloud and Dropbox
If your mobile devices and computers and laptops are all availing the ‘cloud’ services offered by Apple, Google or Dropbox or others, then you will definitely want to familiarise with their sync features and settings.
TIP: To stop uploading photos you take with your mobile immediately, you’ll need to disable the cloud service on each device you’re using.
This auto sync or ‘instant upload’ or ‘my photos’ will suck the images off your mobile phone or tablet, or share images stored on your computer with the cloud servers.
For example, the recent iCloud attack: Apple has a convincing explanation that the celebrities targeted had their own login codes stolen — the accounts were not cracked into, in other words, but simply entered.
TIP: With iCloud and the images you take on Apple devices, you’ll want to disable the ‘My Photo Stream’ settings so your photo reel is not shared online immediately.
You don’t want nude or embarrassing photos of you hitting the Internet streets? First, just take every security measure possible (which includes foiling phish attacks by always logging into the site directly to check for anything notified by email).
Secondly, why not just keep all private moments stored in your own head, the best hard drive ever invented, and let memory’s cloud suffice? Basically, the moral of this story is that with today’s image-taking equipment, and the overall convergence of online technologies, you must be prepared for any image to go public. Accept it, act accordingly, and you’ll be safer.