Switching Off 1 Phone Setting Could Help Protect Your Safety

At this point, most of us have happily dumped our entire lives into the cloud — we have our pictures, credit information, and so much more floating around in the digital atmosphere — and, for the most part, it makes our lives better. We can instantly access anything we need — and that’s great — but that means other people, including those with nefarious intentions, can also potentially get ahold of our personal info.

Using smart, complex passwords to safeguard our accounts and choosing secure sites to do our banking and shopping is important, but what else do we need to be doing to keep our data from falling into the wrong hands?

That’s what we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — wanted to find out on our most recent episode, so we chatted with Alysa Hutnik, a privacy lawyer with Kelley, Drye & Warren LLP in Washington, D.C. And, boy, did we discover how much we need her help, as we aren’t doing nearly enough to protect our digital selves.

But we were also surprised to learn that making one small adjustment on our smartphones could keep us safer physically too.

“By default, a lot of people leave their location tracking on or choose to always — not just when you’re using the app — but always choose to allow your location to be collected,” Hutnik told us. “And if you think about our patterns — we come back to the same place at night most nights — to our home. We go to the same places for work. We have the familiar patterns. Your location is really personal.”

Just think about how many apps have access to your location, and then ask yourself how many of them really need that information.

You have the choice to not share your location all the time or really be intentional about when you are sharing location,” Hutnik said. “You might need it because you want to find out how far the airport is from your hotel — totally fine — but if you don’t need to share your location, don’t.”

So, if you’re craving a croissant and you’re in a city you’ve never visited before, it makes sense to give an app access to your location so it can guide you to the nearest bakery, but otherwise, it’s a good idea to turn off or say no to location sharing.

Hutnik also noted that it’s a good idea not to share photos of yourself or others in real time with the location tagged — or even untagged. For instance, sharing a photo of yourself while you’re on vacation can alert others that you’re not at home, and this can act as an invitation for a robbery. Or, if you’re traveling, especially if you’re doing solo travel, and you’re posting about the location you’re visiting, others could easily find you at or near that spot.

By being more intentional about what you share, when you share it, and with whom, you can keep your personal info — and your person — safer online and offline.

During this episode of “Am I Doing It Wrong?” Hutnik also gave us super easy tips for beefing up (and diversifying) our passwords, told us why we might want to be a little more discerning about accepting cookies, how to make ourselves a little less vulnerable to scams and much more.

After you’ve had a listen to the full episode above or wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe to “Am I Doing It Wrong?” so you don’t miss a single episode, including our investigations of the ins and outs of tipping, how to score the best deals on airline tickets, how to apologize or vanquish your credit card debt, how to find love online or overcome anxiety, online shopping, tips for taking care of your teeth, pooping like a pro, secrets to booking and staying in a hotel, how to deal with an angry person, and more.

Need some help with something you’ve been doing wrong? Email us at AmIDoingItWrong@HuffPost.com, and we might investigate the topic in an upcoming episode.

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