Three Hundred and Seventy-Two Simple Ways to Protect Your Digital Life

chatman-372simplewaystoprotectyourdigitallife
CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY PETER DAZELEY / GETTY

1. The single most effective way to protect yourself is to change your passwords. All of them. All the time. Commit to changing your passwords so often that you won’t ever actually do it.

2. Download and install an app that encrypts all your electronic messages. The next day, when you forget your password for that app and are unable to decrypt your e-mails, become so frustrated that you accidentally spill coffee on your computer and destroy it. Purchase a new computer, putting you in debt and thereby making your private banking information less attractive to would-be hackers.

3. Invest in a smartphone case made from pressed black peppercorns. This way, if someone steals your phone, he might have a sneezing fit and drop it into a sewer before he can access your files.

4. Changing your passwords every two hours may seem exhausting, but trust me—it is way more inconvenient than it sounds.

5. The best way to safeguard your identity: continuously reinvent yourself until your identity is fluid. The less your identity can be pinned down, the harder it will be to steal it. Be everything and nothing at once. Anything is possible. Nothing is real. Change your passwords.

6. The next time you drop your phone in the toilet, slowly back out of the bathroom. Do not stop moving. Continue striding backward across the land until you find yourself in a new country, one without Wi-Fi, and begin a new life.

7. Develop a secret language that only you can speak and only God can understand. Don’t teach ANYONE the language. Give the language a name, something like “Guptagatese.” One way to make the language feel richer is to imagine the planet it came from (Guptagatia) and what the creatures who dwell there are like (curious, sexy, turquoise). Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the Guptagatesian people until the language becomes more alive inside you than your native tongue. From now on, anything you wish to remain private can be typed in your creepy new language!

8. Before you read the next tip, change all your passwords real quick.

9. Put a little piece of tape over the hole in your soul that keeps you physiologically dependent on refreshing your social-media accounts every four minutes.

10. Encrypt your innermost feelings. If no one can tell what you care about, no one can ever really hurt you. If you don’t believe me, ask my father. He will stare back at you with eyes as cold as a trout. But don’t be fooled. He is probably studying you carefully, trying to guess your password.

11. If you are naïve enough to insist that your password be the name of your dog, at least change your dog’s name to include numerals and punctuation—and your dog’s name must be case-sensitive. She should only respond when you orally capitalize certain letters as you call her. For example: “Come here, dG6$fT)£%T8! Hey, where are you going, old girl? Don’t you like me anymore, dG6$fT)£%T8?!”

12. Put a little piece of tape over the paranoid part of your brain that is deluding you into believing that anybody would ever want to peek into your tedious, whiny e-mails.

13. Make sure that your digital trail is unappealing to prying eyes. Throw hackers off the scent by making the subject heading of all of your e-mails “Peep these pics of my Aunt Blanche’s foot disease—YUCK.”

Tip No. 14 has been tip-jacked by tech bandits who will strip it and sell its ones and zeros for cyber scrap on the black binary market.

15. – 372. If you can manage to change your passwords twice before you get to the end of this sentence, you’re off to a decent start, but, frankly, you are still not safe. The only way to guarantee that you won’t be compromised is to heed the remaining tips, which you can access for free by going to our Web site and typing in your Social Security number.

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