Like most teens, I love my phone — it’s better than any boyfriend, that’s for sure. I use it for everything I do. Listening to my own personal soundtrack gets me through the day. Updating my Snapchat story reminds my classmates that I do actually have a life. I reach my parents with just one speed-dial call. I connect with my cousins from across the world with a tap of a button.
So yeah, I like to think my phone and I have a great thing going. But like any relationship, my phone and I have some issues.
Your phone collects data constantly. It’s like a river, always flowing with information. But it can also leak data — including my location, photos and texts. On the one hand, I put this kind of stuff online all the time. Whenever I post pictures on my Instagram, I try to tag my location. In this case, I’m intentionally putting it out there.
But what if I were to say your phone can do that without your even knowing?
Now, you might be thinking, “It’s not like I have anything to hide on my phone. I’m an open book.”
Alright. Try this.
Set up a roundtable and gather a group of people. Have everyone take out their phones. Now, hand your phone to the person on your right.
Now your head might be racing. “Why isn’t my phone password protected? Did I listen to any dumb music lately? Oh my God, no one is allowed to look at any of the selfies I have on my phone. There is a reason those never got posted anywhere.” Or wait, is that just me?
Imagine these people around the table getting full access to your phone. What could they find?
So, before anyone freaks out, there’s a preemptive measure we can all use to avoid any bad situations. I present to you (with thanks and credit to the Electronic Frontier Foundation): threat modeling.
The idea behind threat modeling is to make sure that what you want to be protected, stays protected. All it takes is putting in some extra thinking. Simple enough.
Ask yourself five questions:
1. What do you want to protect?
2. Who do you want to protect it from?
3. How likely is it that you will need to protect it?
4. How bad are the consequences if you fail?
5. How much trouble are you willing to go through in order to try to prevent those?