Salt Your Data!

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It is never wise to give anyone or anything on the Internet more information than they need. That is specially true when signup up to websites and services run by large multi-national corporations. "Salting" your data with false and misleading information is far wiser than handing out your personal information willy nilly.

written by 윤채경 (Yoon Chae-kyung)  2021-03-31 - last edited 2021-03-31. © CC BY


"Salting Your Data - #SolutionsWatch" by The Corbett Report.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike International.

"Salting" is a cryptographic term that refers to random data added to one-way functions for hashing data before it is stored. That term doesn't technically apply if you are asked to fill out your name, birth date, phone number and other information on some website and you fill in your name and a lot of random strings in the rest of the input fields. The concepts are vaguely similar and it is somewhat fitting to call that "Salting Your Data" like James Corbett from The Corbett Report does in the above video.

Sharing personal information on the Internet is never a good idea. You never know how the data will be stored, shared and inevitably abused. That includes personal pictures and video you do not explicitly create for a wide audience.

There are cases where you may want to sign up to a website using your real name. It may be that you have friends using a website and you want them to be able to find you by searching for your actual name. It is understandable that you might want to do that, even though it is unwise. What should you do when you sign up to such a website and it asks for a whole lot of additional information such as your phone number, your birth date the city you are from, what school you went to and other personal information? You should "salt" their database with lots of random information with no basis in reality! And don't be lazy, don't re-use the same information. Bigger technology companies can easily tie two instances of "Some Fake School In Some Fake Town" together even if they are on the opposite ends of the Internet. Random data means new fresh new gibberish data every time you have to enter some data.

One last little tip: Don't forget to salt the data in any image files, video files or audio files you want to share on the Internet. Photos taken by smartphones are full of incriminating photo metadata. You can use exiv2 to strip that away before you share your photos online. It will help, but it won't make you completely safe.. Facebook now has technology that allows them to identify two pictures taken with the same smartphone by looking at tiny artifacts created by tiny scratches on a cameras lens. It may be time to start salting your pictures with a GMIC or GIMP filter before you upload them anywhere on the Internet.


You can learn more about James Corbett, who produced the above video, by visiting corbettreport.com.

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