Having been in tech journalism for some time now, I’ll admit that even I am getting desensitized to the incessant releases of security bugs, malware, virus’, etc., that appear by the day, if not the hour.
One day such-and-such software is the best thing going as far as privacy and security, and then five minutes later it has the biggest security hole ever in tech history (or so the claims often go in the mainstream news).
Honestly, it can be tough some times for me to confidently recommend apps and software on my various blogs (darkandroid.info, or the ZOG Blog that you’re reading now) and on my own science and tech podcast–Sovryn Tech. News changes by the second, and something I emphatically endorse in the past that suddenly becomes a security and privacy issue can–frankly–make me look like a fool at times.
In the past year or so, in order to “combat” this state of affairs, I’ve come to one possible solution to this issue. I call it (and I’m sure I’m not the first one) “software minimalism”. The idea is simple: use as little software as possible for what you need to do with your various devices, from your PC to your mobile device.
The idea behind this is to have as few security holes as possible, and the less software you use, the less holes you have (of course, I do admit that one of your few software options of choice could have a significant bug, and no lesser amount of software use can account for that, I realize).
While you don’t want to fall into using the “tyranny of the default” (using software or options that are put upon you that wasn’t your choice), one of the easiest ways to achieve software minimalism is to use the software (web browsers, etc.) that automatically comes with the device. Again, certainly this could having you using some very disconcerting software (like anything made by Alphabet/Google)–and I’m not saying to do that–but I am saying to at least uninstall that software once you have your software of choice installed.
This also applies to web browsers and their add-ons and extensions. While companies like Mozilla and Alphabet are constantly trying to keep these as secure as possible, there is certainly plenty of concern to be had with them once they’re installed in your browser (consider how Pocket recently had the bug of allowing root access of your computer through the Firefox extension, and that is a pre-installed add-on, at that).
One could equally apply software minimalism to website and service accounts. The more accounts you have with more websites and online services, the more chances your data has of being leaked or stolen.
Another recent development is in the area of security software like antivirus software. The rate at which operating systems like Windows 10 and others are integrating with online services (consider Windows 10 and its attachment to Microsoft’s OneDrive)–along with many other pieces of software being built in-house–I feel that it is increasingly behooving the operating system developers to handle the security end of things. Let Apple worry about OSX. Let Canonical handle Ubuntu. And let Microsoft handle Windows 10. No other company can know the various operating systems as well as their creators–especially at the rate at which the OS’s update–so now I’m of the opinion to leave security to those companies. Don’t bother with third party.
Again, it’s all a very simple concept. Only install and use what you really need and want. Keep it simple and keep it clean. It’s less of a headache overall, it will give you better battery life if you’re using a laptop or mobile device, greater security, and who knows, maybe you’ll even get a lot more stuff done without all the distractions?
Give software minimalism a try.