If you’re a regular reader of celebrity gossip websites and magazines, you’ll be familiar with the scourge of leaked photographs. Numerous people in the public eye have had intimate images of themselves stolen and shared widely online – and these are just the cases that make the news.
In the interests of full disclosure, Cover cannot condone the sending of explicit photos over the internet. The risk is always great, and the burden falls on the sender. However, we also understand that this is going to happen in the 21st Century.
If you are prepared to accept the risks inherent in sharing such images, the least you should do is protect yourself. Here are six pieces of advice, devised by people that understand such concerns, that will provide as much security as possible.
First thing’s first – ask yourself a simple question. How well do you know, and therefore trust, the person that you are sending these images to?
It’s one thing to share intimate pictures with a long-term partner. It’s quite another to send them to somebody you have been chatting to on Tinder or Grindr for 10 minutes and things have escalated. Remember how quickly jokes and memes circulate and go viral. Anybody using an app can forward a message with a simple tap of the button.
Even if these images are not widely circulated, they can be permanently stored on the recipient’s phone handset or computer hard drive. Unless you are certain that the images will not be used maliciously, keep them to yourself. The cyber lock and key of encrypted software, such as Cover, offers additional safety.
The term “revenge porn” has become so omnipresent that it has entered the dictionary. This is the practice of sharing explicit images of people without their consent. The name stems from the fact that is often a spurned partner that acts in such a way. Anybody sufficiently malicious can undertake this act of violation, though.
One way to avoid becoming a revenge porn statistic is to maintain plausible deniability. If you must send sensitive images over the internet, blur out your face so you cannot be easily identified. Equally, obscure on any distinctive marks, such as unique tattoos, that ensure you would be recognised.
Never assume that deleting a message you have sent and removing any images from your device eradicates all trace. For Android users, images are invariably backed up to Google Photos. iCloud offers the same service for Apple loyalists. Your messaging app of choice may also automatically back up images.
Deactivate these settings before taking explicit photographs, and certainly before sending the material to somebody else. You cannot be certain that the recipient has done the same, so there are no guarantees. At the very least, though, this will protect your cloud drive from hackers.
In addition, use a different password for cloud drives than you do anything else. If a hacker gains access to your email account, for example, they can access your cloud drives with the same data.
We also strongly recommend downloading Cover. This app will automatically scan your device for any explicit image, moving them to a password-protected folder within your handset. This prevents easy access for anybody else that may come across the images, whether by accident or design.
People use a variety of apps to share text messages, jokes, memes and photographs of all kinds. Apps change their security settings and policies regularly, as the recent uproar surrounding WhatsApp serves to remind us. You must know what measures an app is taking to protect your privacy.
At the time of writing, the following security measures are in place with the biggest, most popular apps on the marketplace.
Overall, if you insist on sharing personal photos, we recommend a specialist app like Confide or Dust. These apps are still not flawless. Used in conjunction with Cover, however, they offer the greatest level of privacy and security possible.
We discussed the importance of encrypting images above. Encrypted data ensures that nobody can access it without appropriate security steps. WhatsApp messages are encrypted by default. In theory, anybody that receives the message goes through two stages of identity authorisation before they can open it.
Cover automatically encrypts any image that is considered explicit within your handset. This means that if anybody else uses your phone, they will not be able to view the images without the appropriate password.
Finally, give serious consideration to signing up for a VPN service. A VPN connection masks your IP address, usually rerouting your internet connection through an overseas country. This secures you against hackers. What’s more, a VPN provides automatic encryption.
Think of a VPN as a privacy curtain around your internet use. These subscription services are often used by businesses to ensure sensitive data is not accessible outside the workplace without permission. Such a service can also be invaluable if you are planning to share sensitive images that are not intended for general perusal.
Again, please allow us to reiterate – sending any kind of explicit image is a risk, and not one to be taken lightly. If you are prepared to take the gamble, download Cover for an additional layer of privacy. This way, the images that you send will be stored in a private, encrypted and password-protected vault. This protects your privacy from prying eyes and malicious hackers.