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What Squid Game teaches us about online privacy

November 2021 by Mozilla

Squid Game, one of the latest Netflix productions, has been the subject of a media frenzy that no one has been able to escape. In this Korean TV series, 456 highly indebted gamblers put their lives at risk by playing children’s games in an attempt to win the ultimate payout of ₩45.6 billion (about €33 million). Although it sounds crazy, all gamblers voluntarily participate in these deadly games – as voluntarily as one may given their severe financial problems. However, we observe that they are not responding to an open call for participation but are personally targeted and invited to participate in the competition by an outsider who is fully aware of their distress, although their financial and professional situations should actually be confidential.

Squid Game is obviously fictional. And although conspiracy theories may be more popular than ever, we don’t mean to suggest that similar things are indeed happening in the real world. But the show serves as an urgent reminder that our personal data may easily fall into the wrong hands or be used in a way we don’t expect, even get us in trouble.

What happens to our data may not be entirely in our own hands – but there are certainly a few things you can do to mitigate the risk, especially online:

• Think twice before you share personal information. This applies to what you post online, what information you share with web services, as well as whether you allow apps to access your contacts, camera, microphone, online activities, or location data. Don’t share your bank info, address, even email address unless you understand why a website or service requests it and you truly trust it.

• Protect your accounts. Even if you’re incredibly careful, your accounts can be affected by a data breach. Make sure that all of your accounts are protected by a unique, safe password, so that they’re hard to hack and a repeatedly used password doesn’t allow hackers access to multiple accounts. If 2-factor authentication is available, enable it for an extra layer of security. Also, sign up for a service like Firefox Monitor to check if you’ve been affected by a known breach in the past (and you need to change passwords) and sign up for notifications that will alert you if you’re ever affected by one in the future.

One last tip: If you ever come across a seemingly too-good-to-be-true deal –online or offline–, make sure you understand the full consequences and potential risks before you sign up for anything. This applies even more if the person or service knows more about you than they should.

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