Take the 3-step Privacy Plan Diet

Losing your grip on personal privacy is easy these days.

The internet is never more than an arm’s length away, and the stores are chocked full of tempting, bite-sized apps.

We all know that privacy is important, but indulgence is fun!

The Privacy Plan DietOn the other hand, abstinence is drudgery, watchfulness is dull, and doing the Right Thing is a chore.

So, can you maintain your privacy in 2014 without intolerable compromise and inconvenience? We think it’s time to find out.

The answer will be different for each person so we’ve come up with a plan to help you come to your own personal conclusion – The Privacy Plan Diet!

The Diet is a three-step, 30-day challenge. Follow the three simple steps for 30 days and then at the end of it decide for yourself how much you can bear (and please come back to Naked Security and tell us).

The steps are simple but they won’t always be easy. They will add some hassle to your life and remove some convenience but they will also boost your privacy and protect you from data leakage and unnecessary criminal attention.

And since we couldn’t think of a better day to start than Data Privacy Day that means it’s 30 days starting today!

Ready? Here goes…

1. Turn off geolocation, and leave it off.

The diet starts easily enough, just pick up your phone, tablet or laptop and turn off geolocation.

It may seem like a little thing but we can’t think of a more abused and misused feature than your phone’s ability to use GPS and Wi-Fi data to work out where you are.

Whether you’re a Twitter user, a soldier in a war zone or a fugitive from the law geolocation can carry serious unintended consequences even when it’s used on purpose.

Alongside the honest-to-goodness banana skins, users also have to be careful to avoid being tripped up by a steady supply of less-than-honest app writers. Geolocation data has been silently hoovered up and sent home by phone software as diverse as flashlights and mobile apps for kids.

And I haven’t even mentioned software bugs.

2. Turn off Wi-Fi. Turn it on when you need it.

To trim the next few privacy pounds dieters need to turn off Wi-Fi on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. You can still use Wi-Fi but you have to switch it on when you need it and turn it off again when you don’t.

Smartphones with Wi-Fi enabled search constantly for networks to join. Without you lifting a finger your phone will couple promiscuously with any access points it thinks it recognises, legitimate or otherwise.

As it searches for networks to join, your phone will offer up the names of Wi-Fi networks you’ve used previously. Many Wi-Fi networks are named after the places where they’re located, so that your phone’s electronic greeting can read like a history of where you’ve been.

Alongside the networks it’s joined your phone will also broadcast its MAC address almost constantly. Commercial organisations have begun to show serious interest in that little unique ID because it can be used just like a cookie to track and profile your movement in the real world.

3. Log out when you have finished

Number three is the toughest, but it wouldn’t be a diet worth doing if it were easy, would it?

Dieters on the Privacy Plan should log out of any system they’ve finished with. Stopped using your laptop? Log out. Checked your bank balance? Log out. Done updating your Facebook status? Log out.

Logging out is important because if you don’t log out of whatever you’re doing you haven’t really left.

Everything you’ve used but haven’t logged out of is an open back door that leaves your privacy at the mercy of Clickjacking attempts, Cross-Site Referral Forgery attacks, social media tracking beacons and people just sitting at your keyboard when you’re not there.

If you’ve got a few calories left to burn then try our ‘zero sugar’ version of rule #3 and turn on your web browser’s option to clear your history every time you close it or browse using its Private or Incognito mode.

If you want to know why it’s important to start looking after your privacy today then read our Report from the future: Data Privacy in 2044.

See you back here in 30 days!