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Keeping Your Photos Safe From Hacking & Extortion

Posted by on May 21, 2013

The digital age has given people convenient ways to store and share their photographs with loved ones all around the world. But with online photo storage comes new risks as show by the seemingly endless scandals circling politicians and celebrities from hacked photos. But the powerful and famous aren’t the only ones that fall victim to online attacks and as recent news shows, everyone should secure their photographs from potential attack. Private photos have become a prime hacking target for everyone from snooping journalists and disgruntled workers to extortionists and blackmailers.

Unfinished paintings by George W. Bush.

Photo courtesy of Salon.com

Recently, hacked Bush family emails revealed a collection of paintings by George W. Bush, showing just what the former president had been doing with his time since occupying the White House. While this is one of the lighter sides of recent hacking news, it just goes to show that standard email photo storage isn’t safe or secure for anyone, not even former presidents.

George W. and George H.W. Bush

Photo courtesy of LATimes.com

A growing concern is the increase of the crime known as “sextortion”, in which predators hack into private email accounts in order to extort victims through any sensitive photographs or videos. In April, two men were sentenced in California for threating professional poker players with extortion through photographs stolen from the players’ email accounts. That same month, another man was accused of the attempted extortion of 14 different women through supposedly compromising photos retrieved from their hacked emails. And in Palestine, women face a new threat in the form of online blackmail. Many Palestinian women are discouraged from even posting or hosting photographs online, knowing that people could easily access their email accounts to retrieve photos, which have been successful tools for blackmail in the hands of hackers.

Yahoo was hacked in 2012

Photo courtesy of CSMonitor.com

From everyday parents that want to keep pictures of their children offline, to users in volatile regions of the world that have to worry about the daily threat of blackmail, safely storing private photographs has become a new standard in basic personal online security. There are countless online photo storage companies to choose from that offer supposedly “secure” services, but simply having a password (even if it’s encrypted), isn’t a guarantee against having your private photos turned public. The only way to ensure that your private photos stay private, is to opt for a fully anonymous storage and sharing service like SpiderOak.

Protecting Your Photos

Through SpiderOak, users can conveniently store their photos online without having to worry about attacks or monitoring. This truly private storage and sync service is 100% anonymous, meaning that no one, not even the company’s own employees, can access the plaintext data uploaded to its servers.

Here’s how to safely leverage SpiderOak’s private cloud storage system to safely protect your photographs:

Step 1: Download SpiderOak through the website and install the application.

Step 2: When the application launches, clicked the ‘Advanced’ button and then find the ‘Category’ box in the left window pane.

To select ‘Pictures’ simply check the box or – to select specific folders under the Picture category – click on the word ‘Pictures’. This will bring up the computer folder where you saved your photos. Next, find and select the digital evidence of your college exploits, awkward yearbook pics, and any other photos you want to keep private and click Save.

Step 3: If you want to secure more than 2 GBs of those all important pictures, you can click on the ‘Buy More Space’ button and choose the plan and pricing level that’s right for you. Unless you’re a small business or a professional photographer, chances are that the lowest level plan ($10 per month for 100 GBs) will fit your storage needs.

Step 4: After the upload is finished, your photos will be fully private and secure on SpiderOak’s server, anonymously stored forever. And you’ll be able to finally relax, knowing that the only proof of that terrible Halloween costume from last year is truly for your eyes only.

Syncing Your Photos With SpiderOak

For professional photographers on the go and social media shutterbugs, a convenient option for keeping your photos with you wherever you might go is to take advantage of syncing with SpiderOak. This service’s Sync function keeps a user’s synchronized folders up to date and in real-time across a wide range of devices. Here’s how:

Step 1: Find and select the Sync tab. If this is your first time syncing with SpiderOak you won’t see any syncs listed yet. Next, find and click the ‘New’ button. This will open up the Sync Wizard, which will guide you through the rest of the syncing process.

Step 2: Choose a name for the Sync and be sure to make it unique as you can keep multiple Syncs going at once with SpiderOak. This means that you can keep your business documents, financial files, and whatever else you like syncing and up to date across your devices while your photos seamlessly upload to SpiderOak’s anonymous storage system.

Step 3: Select the photo folders your want to keep current and in sync across your computers and click ‘Save’.

Now your photos will benefit from privacy, accessibility and complete anonymity anyone but yourself. For professional photographers, this revolutionizes the industry, in which the threat of hacked photographs could ruin careers, while Instagram addicts can keep their most treasure memories safe and current across all their devices through syncing with SpiderOak. And for most online users, this anonymous and fully secure storage system means the return of true privacy in an age of rampant hacking and potential extortion.

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