The reason privacy and security can be so difficult for average Mac, iPhone, and iPad users is the same reason that using a complex password is difficult. Humans are like water and we tend to flow downhill. It’s natural to do what is easiest. Complex passwords are difficult to remember so that’s why password, and 123456, and qwerty, and abc123, and monkey are among the most common passwords and the worst to use.
Real privacy and security requires us to use our devices– Mac, iPhone, iPad or whatever else is connected to the internet or subject to theft or unauthorized usage– with care and consideration. Why can’t we just sit down and use whatever we want to use without worrying about thieves, hackers, criminals, neighbors and co-workers, or government spooks wandering through our files?
Such consideration is similar to putting on a seat belt. Things happen. It’s best to be prepared. Most computer users are not prepared for breaches into privacy and security, let alone a catastrophic failure without a backup plan. Earlier this year, David Nield wrote an interesting article on tracking.
How to Avoid Being Tracked on Your Laptop, Phone, or Fitness Tracker
Truth is truth. If those devices are connected online, someone is tracking you. That is an axiom of online life. Pull the plug, lock the doors, turn out the lights. But if you’re online someone is trying to get into your device, and someone is tracking you. The best you can hope for is that whoever is doing the tracking doesn’t know that who they are tracking is you.
Today we’re all being tracked by more gadgets than ever before, and in ways that might not be immediately obvious; but it is possible to put restrictions on the data that your laptop, your smartphone, and even your fitness tracker can collect about you—in particular, where you are and what you’re doing with your device
Color me skeptical, but good luck with that.
The problem should be obvious, but we’ve been ignoring the obvious for many years. Privacy and security is made up of too many moving parts and we simple users simply cannot manage all the pieces, even when employing a firewall, running Little Snitch, using a VPN, and adding ad blockers to every browser.
Even Apple tracks Mac, iPhone, and iPad customers. The difference between Apple and those who live off legitimate breaches of privacy and security– Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al, I’m looking at you– is that Apple does do much to monetize what it tracks. Apple makes money the old fashioned way. By selling something to you.
Mostly. But not completely.
Apple gets a few billion dollars a year from Google to make Google’s search engine the default on Safari. Applications on your Mac phone home to their developers, crash tracking websites, advertisers, analytics trackers, and much more and unless you’re using Little Snitch you would never know.
Though less than others, Apple is part of the tracker community and complicit because it allows such tracking and does not provide customers and users with more robust mechanisms to reduce or prevent such tracking.
When it gets down to nitty gritty, the only safe computer is one that is turned off. If you turn on a Mac and it connects to the internet, you’re subject to trackers and both privacy and security are in the process of being compromised.
All the steps Nield outlines are similar to those I’ve promoted for years and implementing them can reduce trackers and excursions into your privacy and security while online, but for most of Apple’s customers, even those items are too much to ask.
Just like a complex password.