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Security & privacy

The big privacy mistake you’re making on your phone right now

There are many rules when it comes to protecting yourself online. One of the most important is to have strong, unique passwords for every one of your online accounts.

If you don’t know how to come up with strong passwords, we can help. Tap or click here for 5 new rules to create the best passwords.

But even those who follow the most sound privacy protection advice can make mistakes every now and then. There’s one thing many people are doing that put them at risk. If you’re doing this, stop immediately.

Take note: Do not store sensitive data here

Most smartphones come with a handy note-taking app pre-installed. These are perfect for keeping track of things you need to pick up at the grocery store and honey-do lists but you never want to store sensitive information on them. You might be shocked to know how many people are doing just that.

A recent survey of 1,029 American adults by DuckDuckGo revealed nearly half of them have saved at least one piece of sensitive data in a note-taking app.

RELATED: 7 online security basics you really need to stop ignoring

Here are some of the things those surveyed admitted to storing:

  • Usernames
  • Passwords
  • Credit/debit card information
  • Social Security numbers
  • Security or PIN codes

You might be wondering why it’s so dangerous to store this type of information in a notes app. Well, consider the fact that these types of apps are not encrypted by default.

That means everything stored on your note app is vulnerable to hackers. If they break into your phone, they can steal all of your saved notes. Even worse, if the note-taking app has a sync function that is also not encrypted by default, hackers could steal the data by spying on your network.

Most people don’t know these apps are not encrypted by default, as explained in the following chart:


As you can see, less than 35% of those surveyed knew note apps do not encrypt notes by default.

You may also like: Facebook knows everything about you. Here’s what you can do about it

How to protect your sensitive data

Since many note-taking apps are not encrypted, your best move is to not save sensitive information on them.

Imagine the damage a cybercriminal could do by getting ahold of your Social Security number and banking information. Not good.

Just use notes apps for things like simple reminders. For example, you need to pick up bread on your way home from work or you’re having lunch with an old friend at your favorite restaurant Thursday. Never store your credit card numbers or passwords on them.

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