Security and privacy are a lifestyle

What you hear the word lifestyle, are your first thoughts of champagne wishes and caviar dreams and a vision of yourself lounging next to the infinity pool of a glamorous house?

That’s one popular definition. But lifestyle also means those attitudes and habits that make up a big part of our daily lives.

It’s why your doctor at the annual physical asks if you wear a seatbelt, or if you smoke. If you have one habit that tends to bad health results, you’re likely to have others, and the doctor is trying to get a sense of your lifestyle, so that he can give advice help keep you going strong.

In a similar way, your lifestyle also reflects your privacy and security habits. The problem for us as humans is that in order to develop a habit, we first have to have awareness of the problem and the steps we are taking to protect ourselves.

For example, most adults know when to activate their internal privacy mode based on the situation. If I’m in a public place and want to share a secret with my best friend, I’ll automatically dial my voice down to a whisper so that the person next to us in line won’t hear me. I can see the potential threat of being overheard and I act appropriately. In the same way, I cover the keypad at the ATM so the overly curious person behind me can’t see my PIN. In the brick and mortar world we’ve been doing it so long that we do it without thinking.

Online, except for that nosy shoulder-surfer next to us, we can’t see the bad guys, so we don’t give them much mind AND – anyway – we think all those apps on our devices are taking care of the security. But as Pat Walshe, Data Protection Officer at Brave told us, “safeguarding privacy online requires not just products and services that help protect privacy by default, like the Brave browser, but it’s also important that people familiarize themselves with privacy settings of apps and services.”

In other words, security and its side-kick privacy aren't about installing an anti-malware program, Sticky Password, any old browser and then surfing with abandon.

Beyond the apps and programs we choose, online security and privacy need to be a process that we repeat and practice so that they are part of our security and privacy lifestyle. We need to learn how to use those apps securely and in ways that are conducive to privacy.

As Walshe went on to say, “people’s privacy can also rely on the actions of others. So, if an app asks for permission to ‘access your contacts’ it’s good to think about the implications for those in your ‘contacts’ – your choices can impact the privacy of others too.”

The special nature of privacy often involves other people (even if only passively), so we need to take extra care. For example, I want to post that pic my buddy took of me in the driveway sinking that amazing 35 foot shot (from behind the car!) to win the game of HORSE, BUT it also happens to show my neighbor in the background doing something goofy that he wouldn’t want his wife to know about. I have to take that into account … and not post it.

You’ll know that you are #PrivacyAware when you catch yourself making a metaphorical reflexive grab for the privacy seatbelt the next time you launch your smart device in your continuing mission to explore strange new worlds… actually, probably just seeking new sales, but you get the point.