Did you know that in many cases, anyone can do a simple web search of your name or phone number and find your home address, family members’ names, and other personal information—for free? Most people are either oblivious to this, or they know but simply don’t care. For those who do care, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information.
Your smartphone goes everywhere with you, and contains all of your most sensitive information. With every digital purchase or online account set-up, your personal information is being gathered and shared—often sold. It will soon be on countless websites for any identity thief, ex-lover, stalker, or any random person who might be curious about who you are and where you live.
So, what can you do to prevent this? The five smartphone apps described in this article help you to secure your data and provide an important layer of privacy for your life. Going completely off the digital grid isn’t a quick or cheap process, but it can be done with some effort.
The first basic step is to stop willingly putting your information out there. This can be done largely by changing your social media and online shopping habits. Assuming your personal information is already exposed, there are manual steps and third-party tools to ensure that it’s removed from public space. Then, keep it from getting back out there by using aliases, disinformation, and anonymous purchases—all through legal methods.
Some people say “I have nothing to hide” as if to say they’ve done nothing wrong. While that may be true, those people also surely appreciate their rights to personal security and privacy. As illustrated in The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference, if you truly have nothing to hide, would you send me your email username and password? Don’t needlessly have your personal information shared for public access and put yourself at risk.
It isn’t reasonable for law enforcement, military, and government personnel to expect private companies or government agencies to protect your identity and information. Consider what former Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated about that company’s stance on your privacy: “A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”