Killing Eve: A cautionary tale on privacy

Brad Poole
2018 Winter TCA Tour - Day 9
How many of us could relate to this scene in the popular BBC series Killing Eve? (Source: Getty)

Villanelle: “What’s your pin?” Eve Polastri: “1...2...3…4”

How many of us could relate to this scene in the popular BBC series Killing Eve? Whether it’s 1,2,3,4, a date of birth, or an easily guessable passphrase – our cavalier attitude to passwords is well-documented.

The fact that an MI6 officer (albeit a fictitious one) had such an easily hackable password rings a little too close to home. Recent research from HideMyAss revealed that for 78 per cent of Brits, a password is the only form of protection on their devices.

For employers, this should serve as a wake-up call.

Of course, in this particular situation, no one can blame Eve for handing over her password to the deadly Villanelle – given that she was being threatened with a knife at the time. But what happened next could have easily been prevented.

Her phone contained all the location information to a safe-house where an important witness was being held – safe to say he came to a sticky end.

While the majority of us are not in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a highly trained assassin, this casual attitude to privacy should serve as a cautionary tale for everyone.

Passwords can be cracked, so by not applying privacy options, we are unconsciously handing over our digital identities and life histories. In fact, 80 per cent of people believe that their online history could be accessed without them knowing.

The average Brit may not have important witness protection information stored on their phone, but just think of everything someone could learn about you and your business if they had access to your device – and what they could do with that information.

So whether you’re running MI6, or simply want to ensure that your staff are acting as responsible guardians of your data.

Here are some privacy tips that are just as simple (but a lot more effective protection) than 1,2,3,4.

Just browsing

When browsing the internet, there are various levels of privacy you can apply to your online habits.

If you are spending time on social media platforms like Facebook, on retail sites like Amazon, or exploring who knows what on YouTube, you are leaving traces of yourself all over the internet. Marketers will gather this and sell it to other people like retailers – or even the government.

You can at least turn on the basic protection that is already available on your web browser. For example, you can enable the anonymous or incognito mode. Or, if you want some extra security, you can use a secure virtual private network (VPN) or an untraceable browser.

Coffee shop rules

Using free wifi is a tough one, because who doesn’t love the coffee shop community with its rows of lattes and laptops?

Unfortunately, industrious cybercriminals perch themselves on these open connections and constantly scan for vulnerabilities in every connected device. We recommend that you use a VPN to mask your identity and hide your IP address. This protects your location from being identified, tracked, and will make sure you’re not being followed.

Personal space

You should also be wary when using online services that require you to enter personal information.

If you are at home, you are probably okay. But if you are using public wifi, you need to encrypt your connection to protect your essential information like credit card details, email information, personal identity data, and passwords.

Killing Eve might be fictitious, but the cyber threat is real.