6 ways to protect your privacy in the age of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has slowly but steadily permeated nearly every aspect of our digital lives, opening us up to one of the most potent privacy issues since the rise of social media.

But how can we deal with this new threat? How can you maintain your privacy in the age of powerful AI algorithms that are making it easier for people and businesses to breach privacy safeguards? Here are six ways to protect your privacy in the age of AI.

1. Don’t share sensitive data with AI chatbots

Image of a threat actor hooking a folder named personal data from a laptop
Image Credit: Net Vector/Shutterstock

It can be tempting to do it all through your favorite chatbot. Do you need a written email? Need to plan a trip? Need a password hint? How about researching a health issue? Many people are now heavily dependent on AI chatbots like ChatGPT to handle tasks like these, but should you?

While AI chatbots can make your life easier by taking those tasks out of your hands, they expose you to serious privacy and security concerns. For example, if you ask ChatGPT for password hints, chat with him about your health or relationship issues, or perhaps use him regularly to draft confidential documents for work, your account is already a gold mine of sensitive information that can be used by threat actors against you.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI, which own the most popular AI chatbots on the market, probably won’t use your conversations maliciously. But hackers don’t have the same discretion. AI chatbot profiles, like your ChatGPT account, are a prime target for hackers who understand the type of information your account might contain. Don’t be a victim. Do not share your personal or sensitive information with AI chatbots.

2. Be careful what you share online

sending photos from smartphone to laptop

Be very aware of what you share on the internet. The entire AI industry is built on data: my data, your data, everyone’s data. The text you write on forums, the images you share on social media, the videos and voice notes you share – all of these things are gold for scrapers looking for data to train their AI models. Even worse, due to the relatively lax laws covering access to data for training AI models, almost anything is fair game. Besides the fact that your data may be on a remote server halfway around the world and being used to train an AI system, there are also serious security and reputation issues.

So, you shared a video of you singing all over the internet: What could possibly go wrong? Today’s AI algorithms are frighteningly powerful. They can create highly realistic manipulations of your videos, images and audios. Sharing a little too much personal information or visual content online increases the risk of your identity being used in harmful ways.

3. Be more intentional about your online activities

worry about red flags online

AI algorithms can easily aggregate and analyze content, even private content that you’d rather not be shared openly, to form an opinion about yourself. This can create a hole in your privacy, affecting your career opportunities, relationships, and overall online presence. If your online activities are negative in any way, AI tools can detect it, perpetuate the biases, and amplify the negative information.

Of course, people still largely depend on tools like Google to search for people. However, AI chatbots are gradually becoming a preferred alternative. Soon, they could become an important way to look up people. Why is it relevant? The data collected about your online activities today is what AI algorithms will use to tell people about you tomorrow.

4. Remain as anonymous as possible

man in a hoodie using a laptop

If you’ve never embraced online anonymity, there’s never been a better time to join the trend. Previously, your privacy concerns were likely social media apps selling your data, or perhaps your smartphone apps spying on you. Now things have become more sophisticated and not in a good way. Powerful AI systems can build a frighteningly accurate profile of you from the little scraps of data you leave behind.

Companies don’t necessarily have to buy your data from the services you use. With the right trigger, AI tools can sniff out your fingerprints and use them to construct valid representations of your personality. Fighting this is not easy. However, you can start by making identification difficult by staying as anonymous as possible. Whenever possible, use anonymous web browsers, subscribe to a VPN, switch usernames between online services, use anonymous search engines, and try throwaway emails – use every possible way to stay anonymous online.

5. Use more secure passwords

    Image of login window on laptop and hacker behind laptop

The gospel of stronger passwords is one we’ve been hearing for years. However, some “strong” passwords aren’t that strong anymore in the face of powerful AI tools.

The arrival of AI-powered password crackers makes cracking some so-called strong passwords much easier. Take PassGAN, for example, an AI model for cracking passwords, trained on millions of real passwords pulled from leaked databases. The difference in speed and effectiveness may not be significant right now, but it’s proof of what AI has to offer. In addition to PassGAN, other AI-powered password cracking tools now employ social engineering techniques to create password best guesses.

Moral of the story? You need to create much more secure passwords. You need to know how to create a password that is easy to remember but hard to crack. If you’re ready, you can choose 20-character passwords; why not?

6. Read privacy policies more often

keeping your information private

Yes, that’s a boring thing to do. There’s nothing exciting about going through all the lengthy privacy policies on websites. However, if you intend to use a web service and plan to share data of any kind with them, you should spend some time reading their privacy policies to understand how your data will be handled. If you find the terms or policies unfavourable, look for ways to opt-out of the website using your details.

This includes chatbots. Every reputable service has a privacy policy that tells you what happens with your information. This is how you can find out exactly what ChatGPT does with your data…

Proactively safeguard your privacy

As the rapid growth of AI continues, it brings with it an inevitable increase in challenges to our security and privacy. This makes it very important to take proactive steps to protect our personal information and to use artificial intelligence tools responsibly in ways that do not expose us to serious hacking threats.

#ways #protect #privacy #age
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