Your biggest online security mistakes (and how to avoid them)

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Don't let online hackers get into your home...directory. Photo: Scott Schiller/CC
Don't let online hackers get into your home ... directory. Photo: Scott Schiller/Flickr CC Flickr

We all make compromises daily when it comes to online security. Everybody wants to be safe and secure when making purchases online, but practically none of us do everything necessary to keep our data secure.

“People, myself included, are basically lazy,” web developer Joe Tortuga told Cult of Mac, “and ease of use is inversely related to security. If it’s too difficult, then people just won’t do it.”

With all the recent hacks into private as well as corporate data — like the credit card grab from Home Depot and the hack into Sony’s files, there’s no better time to learn some of the things we all can do to protect ourselves. We spoke to some online security experts to get their advice.

Keep OS X Yosemite from sending Spotlight data to Apple

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Spotlight is sending your searches back to Apple Photo: Apple
Spotlight is sending your search information back to Apple. Photo: Apple

OS X Yosemite has changed the way your Mac deals with your privacy. On the one hand, Apple has decided to enable hard drive encryption by default, despite the FBI requests not to.

On the other hand, every time you type in Spotlight, your location and local search terms are sent to Apple, and, according to developer Landon Fuller, other third parties like Microsoft.

Fuller’s created a website, Fix Mac OS X Yosemite, where he’s posted up a way to stop Yosemite from sending such private data out. He’s also been contributing to a developer project on GitHub to find out and fix other ways that OS X phones home.

iOS 8 privacy upgrade means Apple can’t unlock your phone for cops

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iOS 8 is Apple's most privacy-conscious mobile OS yet.
iOS 8 is Apple's most privacy-conscious mobile OS yet.

Updated security measures in iOS 8 make it impossible for Apple to give your data to the cops — even if the company wanted to.

Previously Apple could access a significant amount of data on any iOS device, which it would do if law enforcement approached the company with a seized device and a valid search warrant. Apple’s stronger encryption and updated privacy policy now mean it can no longer pull data from devices that have the latest version of the mobile OS installed.

“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode,” Apple notes on its website. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Tim Cook says Apple tries to not collect data: ‘You’re not our product’

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timcookcharlierose

The second part of Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose is scheduled to air tonight on PBS, and as a teaser the show has released a short video of the CEO explaining that Apple’s stance on user privacy and company transparency is basically to never become like Google.

“You are not our product,” says Cook. “I think everyone has to ask, ‘How do companies make their money?’ Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried and you should really understand what’s happening with that data.”

Watch the three-minute clip below:

Simple hack shows Secret posts aren’t as anonymous as they seem

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secret_app_screenshot

The idea behind Secret is that you can share anything to your social circle with the comfort of total anonymity. Users’ identities are kept hidden, and that’s what’s supposed to make the app enjoyable or whatever.

As it turns out, it’s not that hard to see who someone actually is on Secret. The catch is that you need their email address.