In the age of revenge porn and identity theft, you can’t be too careful. That’s why anyone going through a divorce should be mindful of these cybersecurity tips for divorcees.
When you marry someone, your lives intertwine. In modern times, that also includes your tech. Cybersecurity often evokes images of shadowy hackers cracking into big-business mainframes, but this isn’t the whole picture. Cybersecurity spending is projected to exceed $1 trillion between 2017 and 2021, protecting against the tiniest domestic threats along with the major incidents. A lot of divorcing couples don’t think to prioritize cybersecurity on their personal devices and accounts, but it’s actually quite important. Cybersecurity during or after a divorce process could save you two a headache or even save your life.
Less amicable splits have been subject in the past to spyware, GPS tracking devices, and other tech options that would allow an ex-partner to glean private information about their target without their knowledge. Sometimes this has actually been found legal, like in the case of a divorced woman who spoke with NPR. She had suspicions her abusive ex-husband was stalking her, but couldn’t prove it. While taking her car for maintenance work, a small GPS tracker device was found in one of the car’s tire wells. It had been there for weeks. Even though the woman felt in danger, no charges could be pressed against the husband because the car was still jointly owned by the couple on paper. Technically, he had a right to track it.
It doesn’t need to be an abusive or hostile situation for you to worry about your cybersecurity. Expenses, stress, confusion, and unhealthy curiosity can fuel issues with tech between you and your ex-partner. Remember that divorces in the U.S. can be expensive, ranging in cost from $15,000 to around $42,500 on average. Even that bit of financial stress can be a straining factor between yourself and your ex-partner if your bank accounts are still linked online.
Tips for you to follow for your own safety:
- Unsync your tech. This especially goes if you have Apple products. iPhones, iPads, and Macs can all sync to each other pretty easily in a single household, but keeping them synced after separation can compromise you and your ex’s privacy.
- If you feel it’s necessary, turn location tracking off on apps. Applications like Snapchat can show an accurate map of exactly where your phone is located. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable with this feature, you have the option to turn it off in the app settings.
- Change your passwords. All your important passwords should be changed. Your email, your banking, your social media, etc. Make them something your ex probably wouldn’t guess.
- Don’t be tempted to snoop on your ex. It invades their privacy and could lead to negative emotions and actions on your part. In fact, some snooping is even illegal. Going into your ex’s email, for example, could land you with a fine or up to a year in prison per the Computer Misuse Act of 1990.
In a nutshell, prioritize your privacy and security — and your ex-partner’s. While divorce is a difficult time, you both deserve respect and autonomy.