Women are at disproportionate risk for online harassment, stalking, revenge porn, and social media hacks. But few have known how to respond, let alone prevent it from happening — until now. In her new book, "The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy," CBS tech journalist Violet Blue lays out the common mistakes and corporate flaws that leave women open to exploitation, then walks readers through everything from getting revenge porn removed to creating a stalker-safe dating profile.
"Many women are shocked to realize that their home address, phone number and private photos are either public, or can be accessed with a few dollars or keystrokes," says Blue. " After having to learn about it the hard way myself, I wanted to show women the simple changes that can prevent it from happening. As companies share more of our information, we're facing a privacy apocalypse.”
Blue knows of what she speaks. Not only has she faced online harassment herself, the award-winning journalist recently broke the story about database breaches at photo-sharing site Snapchat, and has spoken and written extensively about the connections between hacking, cybercrime and sex. She's been a columnist for outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle and Oprah's O magazine, and currently covers security and tech for CBS's ZDNet.
Because corporate privacy protocols are largely written by men, Blue says, there are often unintentional holes that can leave women particularly vulnerable. Blue offers simple tests — including searching for a name, address and recent photos — that let women gauge their risk levels. Only then, she says, can they take steps to prevent it.
"While researching this book, I came across story after story about women who had email accounts hacked by ex-boyfriends, or gave away information on a dating profile that allowed them to be found in real life, or unintentionally shared something on a social media site that affected job prospects," Blue says. “All were avoidable. Unfortunately, most of us don't think about it until it's too late. Women can — and should — make the internet wear a condom."
"The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy" is currently available on Amazon, Shopify and iTunes as an eBook. The book includes direct links and instructions to help readers get their private information removed from websites.
"Every day we're seeing stories about women who have been stalked or harassed because of information that was openly available online," says Blue. "The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy" gives simple steps that can help protect you, whether you're a student, business person, mother or journalist.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the knowledge in this book was learned the hard way," says Blue. "But I hope that by getting this out there, other women can find out what information they’re unwittingly sharing, and how to protect themselves."