Protecting the Mind in our Hand

We need to stop fighting against the truth that our smartphones have become an extension of us — and I’m not just talking about how a great deal of us always have one either in our hand or on our body.

More and more, they are where we choose to store our memories, our ideas, our hopes. Our passwords for the myriad of websites go into our phones. The photos and videos of our loved ones are not only stored, but captured, with our phones. Communications with those closest to us are not only expressed via our phones, but are stored and searchable there as well. The questions we have, the things we desire, the future we dream of and craft brick by mental brick, exist in our phones. You may not like that thought, but it is true.

We all harbor a lot of fears; some expressed (I hate spiders!), to others not so (I don’t want to die alone — yikes, sorry). But perhaps one of the great modern fears is that those we love and care about know what it is we do on our phones — and I’m not even talking about anything truly dreadful. Search histories can be downright embarrassing — “how to know if a girl likes me” to “how to know if a mole is cancerous” are innocent enough on the whole, but we certainly don’t want those around us to know that we’re thinking such things. Furthermore, our camera rolls contain thousands of photos that we don’t want others to witness — from possibly tasteless memes, dumb screenshots, or dozens of cringeworthy selfies.

So what are we to do with not only this realization, but acceptance? With our brains, we (so far) are able to rest easy knowing that no one else can hear what we are thinking or can rifle through our memories (some struggle with doing this themselves). Wouldn’t it be great if we could rest easy with that same knowledge about our phones?

Doing so is actually easier than one might imagine, but it does require a bit of planning and purpose to your actions.

1) Biometric Authentication — fancy way to say that you need to set up either fingerprint or facial recognition as your default way to access your phone. This prevents anyone from shoulder-surfing your passcode.

2) Complex Passcode(word) — sometimes your finger is wet, you’re wearing a mask, or your toddler has tried to get into your phone, and you have to type in your passcode to enable access to your device. Make sure that the passcode isn’t something easy to glean or figure out — 6 numbers or more, or better yet a phrase that’s easy to remember but not figure out.

3) Email Security — I know, e-mail is gross, but outside of your phone, your e-mail address is the keeper of the truth of who you are. Can’t get into your account? Need to verify who you are? As bad as it sounds, a quick verification email is how things operate. The same goes for fall-back access to your phone. Ensure your e-mail password is shared with no one, and isn’t reused anywhere else on the internet.

4) Trust No One — this one may be harder for some people to accept, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with trying to hide anything from those you love or even feeling like you have something to hide. Maybe you’re okay with the thought of giving unfiltered access to someone else to see everything thought that crosses your brain, but chances are, that’s a bridge too far if you stop to think about it — the same goes for your phone: no one else should have access to it. This goes for your children too. Kids may get restless while you’re trying to get stuff done, but you should never sacrifice your privacy to keep them content. No one else cares about your thoughts and treasures as
significantly as you do. Keep your phone to yourself.

We no longer are just contained within ourselves. We are expanding. The cyborgs of science fiction are actually here today — just not quite how we imagined. We are one with technology whether we’re comfortable with that idea or not — it’s best to embrace this truth, and then act like it is the truth. Protect your brain, not just with a helmet on your head, but with digital security in mind.



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Nickk Shepard

Looking to share thoughts and strategies on living a more secure and private life in today’s digital world.