Evaluating the Cybersecurity of Note-Taking Apps – In an increasingly digital age, many people are doing away with pen and paper and instead putting sensitive information they need to remember in their “Notes” app on their phone. This is no surprise to many as these programs can be helpful for everything from jotting down your grocery list to notating the essential components of a detailed work assignment. There is no doubt that these apps can be lifesavers. However, while they are useful, experts are starting to see that many of these tools lack essential security features that are necessary to keep your information confidential.
Hackers who have noticed the lack of security on these popular apps are doing their part to steal personal customer information for malicious use. If you enjoy note-taking apps, then you need to pay attention. Let’s talk about the vulnerabilities of this tech and what you can do to keep your information secure.
Note-Taking Apps And Their Issues
According to Infosecurity Magazine, 45.3% of American adults store sensitive information on note-taking apps. In essence, note-taking apps are digital notebooks. They are popular for personal computer or mobile device users that want to remember information that they used to write down manually, and they help us remember vital information. In a professional setting, more advanced note-taking apps like digital stick notes help project managers keep complex assignments in order, and they are great for brainstorming ideas to bring companies to the next level. Note-taking apps are popular on most devices and you can find many of them in any digital store.
While many note-taking apps have built-in security features that allow users to lock them and keep the information from prying eyes, many tech experts have found that even if the developers of this software understand the importance of confidentiality, they aren’t taking security as seriously as they should. In some cases, the apps do not have any protection at all, while others try but only require a mild password that can be easily guessed.
Even with a complex password, many hackers are often able to find their way in, so security experts recommend the option to encrypt the notes so they cannot be read even if stolen. However, it has been found that there are holes in this essential security as well for many app developers. Either there is not an option for encryption or users are not given clear instruction on how to enable the setting. If you are reading this, then chances are that you use note-taking apps and now understand the danger. Let’s talk about how you can protect yourself.
Just about any piece of information you put on a note-taking app can be used maliciously by hackers. It isn’t just financial records or social security numbers that they’re after. Even something as seemingly innocent as an email address can be used to send phishing emails. Stolen company records written within note-taking apps can be used for corporate espionage. Even writing your vacation plans on notes can alert criminals to when you will be out of town, which is never good news.
Needless to say, proper security is essential to prevent hackers from doing their worst, and if the apps don’t have the proper protections, you need to take matters into your own hands. For starters, when creating passwords for your note-taking apps, make them difficult to guess. They should include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. A common tactic is the brute-force attack, where hackers attempt a wave of username and passwords to try and guess correctly and gain access to your systems. Don’t make it easier for them by having a word in your password that is also written somewhere in your notes.
Although a proper password will be important no matter which app you use, you can also put yourself ahead of the curve by choosing an app that makes security a priority. One great option is Joplin, which has automatic data backup and encryption for every note you take. Another great choice is SilentNotes, which is also known for its great encryption process and the notes cannot be read without a password.
Mobile Device Security
Many people choose to use their mobile phones and tablets to take their notes, but if you do so, you must be cautious. A lot of people don’t secure their phones as well as they should, and if you fail to do so and you have one of the more poorly secured note-taking apps, you could have a recipe for disaster. Just like on the computer, your phone should have a password. For even more security, you should pair that password with a second line of security like a fingerprint or eye scan that cannot be duplicated.
While it is great to take your notes on the go, mobile users should be cautious about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi. This is because of another tactic that is popular with hackers, which is the man-in-the-middle attack. This is essentially a fake network in a public place that appears to be free to attract unsuspecting patrons. If you connect, you are essentially connecting to the hacker’s computer, which provides them free access to your device, and if you have an unsecured note-taking program, they will have all that data, and more. To avoid becoming a victim, always ask an employee for the correct network.
You should also be careful of the type of software you download onto your phone. If you are looking for a note-taking app, be sure to read the reviews and ensure that it is the real deal. Often, a hacker can set up a malicious website that appears to have promising software, but what you are really downloading are viruses and malware. Always do your research ahead of time to get the best products.
Now that you know a little more about the benefits and downsides of note-taking apps, you can be better prepared to jot down important information with confidence. Heed the tips listed above and the notes you take will remain secure.