You.2 - Send in the Clones to Protect Your Online Privacy
Updated: Feb 10
I stand by my previous post. "Cyber" or "online security" is an oxymoron. Anyone and anything can be penetrated online, but there are plenty of things you can do to make life much harder for those looking to do harm.
My friend Bob and I commented on a favorite evasive tactic we deploy in an effort to safeguard our identities and our data. Bob calls his lesser system a "garbage catcher." I refer to my backup computer as a "sacrificial lamb." Both serve the same purpose - absorb malware and other security breaches so we don't have to.
All the banking, tax preparation, and other tasks involving sensitive information are done on our better, more secure computers. Public file sharing (such as torrent files), beta testing open source software, and other high risk computer use is all done on the beater system neither Bob nor I care about.
The same security tactic can be applied to other aspects of your digital life. Creating a "sacrificial lamb" of an email account is one of my favorite, tried and true strategies for managing online accounts and profiles and thwarting spammers.
Here's how it works:
Create a new email address with your preferred service (I like Gmail, but Yahoo! and others are also great spam receptacles). Have fun with it. Go for an email address along the lines of "NoSpamForDan@gmail.com." Also, use a fake name, birthday, home/work address, phone number (virtual "burner" numbers are great for this, but that's another post for another day), etc. Whatever info is required to create that account, make sure it's bogus.
Now that you've got your own virtual Billy Carter up and running, take it out for a spin in the spammiest corners of the internet. Blurt out your junk email address to that store clerk who insists on getting your personal info so you can open a rewards account.
Feels good doesn't it, saying "sure thing, total stranger! My email is "firstname.lastname@example.org," instead of sheepishly uttering your important work or personal address.
If you're tired of creating accounts for websites you rarely visit, or when you're trying to sign up for a service you don't intend to use twice, now you've got the perfect decoy. Create an online profile that screams "I'm annoyed I have to create a profile to access this nonsense!" Those people have no good reason to ask for your DOB or other personal information. Now, you've won back control of your own privacy and entered a username of "email@example.com."
***Unless a site or service is saving your credit card, bank account, or other actually sensitive information, you don't have a good reason to care about the security of that online profile. In fact, the more you trash it with ridiculous, fake info, the better. That means NOT reusing a password you use on another account. It doesn't matter if the password to "firstname.lastname@example.org" is easy to guess.
"Breach is our destiny" should be the slogan for some of these sites that ask for personal data. Especially the small businesses. Not "if," but "when" they suffer a security breach, you'll be able to rest assured the only password the thieves got belonged to "email@example.com."
Don't fight these devils by yourself. Clone your own personal army of data pawns that will take a bullet to protect your better virtual self, and make online safety and privacy a reality.