How Celebrities Can Protect Their Privacy Online
This week, actress Scarlett Johannson joined the ranks of celebrities who’ve had their privacy violated by a hacker. Johannson’s attack was doubly embarrassing, as the hacker grabbed multiple cell phone photos of the A-List actress posing in the nude. Within hours of the photos hitting the Web, Johannson’s name was a trending topic on Twitter and the photos had made their way onto thousands of websites.
While Johansson has taken legal steps to have the photos removed, even involving the FBI to help her track down the hacker, this incident is a clear reminder that celebrities should be extra careful about protecting their privacy. But how can someone who lives in the spotlight truly protect their privacy? What steps can a hot Hollywood star take to keep his or her secrets from spilling out on the Web?
In this article, we offer a few common sense tips for how celebrities can protect their privacy online. And heck, the Internet has made us all into celebrities—these tips apply to you as well.
1. Don’t take nude pictures of yourself with your cell phone…duh.
This one should be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Before you commit anything to the technosphere, stop and think, “Would I want Grandma seeing this?” If you don’t take naked pictures of yourself with your cell phone, there’s no risk that hackers will then steal those naked pictures and post them online.
Of course, Hollywood celebrities aren’t the only people who’ve been stung by leaked naked photos. It seems that, as a culture, we are obsessed with snapping photos of ourselves naked. (Just ask disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner.)
Nevertheless, if you want to protect your privacy, it’s important to resist your exhibitionist impulses. At the very least, if you’re going to snap a nude photo of yourself, don’t keep it on your phone.
2. Use strong passwords.
Your password is the first line of defense against hackers, but too few people (celebrities included) take the proper time to come up with a truly unbreakable password. You should have powerful passwords on all of your online accounts. And it should go without saying, but you definitely need a password for your phone.
What makes a strong password? A combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that don’t include common words or phrases. Alternatively, one smart password technique involves coming up with an unusual multi-word phrase that only you can remember. For instance, “44 Chocolate Canyon Rainbow Parade.” It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s easy to remember and hard to crack with a brute force attack–a common method of hacking that uses automated programs to run thousands of password combinations per second. Use this tip to learn how celebrities can protect their privacy online.
3. Pick smart security questions and answers.
Most online services have a password reminder feature to help users who have forgotten their passwords regain access to their accounts. While this tool can be helpful for forgetful Internet users, it is also widely exploited by hackers, especially when it comes to celebrity victims.
Security questions often ask personal questions like “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What’s your first pet’s name?” While these might be private questions for some, for celebrities, the answers to these questions are often easily accessible through a quick Google search. In fact, a lot of this information is findable for most people thanks to people search databases that reveal family members, financials, home address, religious affiliations, etc. When you set-up password reminders, don’t use a clue that’s common or findable. Get random!
Most importantly, don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. That way, if someone does gain access to one of your accounts via the password reminder trick, they won’t have access to the rest of your accounts as well.
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and countless other social sharing tools, we’re living in a time when everybody is a celebrity to a certain extent and in the cutthroat world of the Internet, that makes “real” celebrities especially attractive targets.
So, while we can’t help out with the paparazzi, at the very least, we hope these tips can teach you how celebrities can protect their privacy online. Good luck! Oh, and can we get an autograph?