Cloud surfing: many of us put our faith in storage systems like iCloud / Getty Images
After hackers leaked hundreds of intimate photos of celebrities, Rhodri Marsden suggests a few ways to make sure that private data stays that way (nude selfies or otherwise)

This week's theft and subsequent leak of nude photos of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others provoked heightened emotions in the motley bunch that comprise the online community. Curiosity, disgust, excitement and fury gave way to intrigue and then concern. With the initial theft assumed to be from "the cloud", we glanced at our phones, tablets and laptops with suspicion, wondering if the settings lurking therein could expose us – quite literally – to a similar fate. Even if snapping nude selfies isn't your thing, nearly all of us possess digital information that we'd rather other people didn't get hold of, whether it's our plans for world domination or our accounts for the last quarter. So, how can we protect ourselves?

1. Assume that your passwords are rubbish

The vast majority are; we're what, two decades or so into a digital revolution and we're still securing personal data with cryptographically laughable strings such as "123456" or "Arsenal1". If there's a recognisable word in there, make it unrecognisable. If it's 8 letters long, make it 12 letters long. If it has the number "69" in it, change it. If you use the same password on multiple sites, use a tiny amount of ingenuity to avoid doing so. It's really not difficult. If you think it is, use a password manager.

2. If you're a public figure, take extra care

Don't secure your online accounts with questions such as "What was the name of your first school?" if the answer is freely available on Wikipedia. You may as well use your own name as your password.

3. Learn to use your device

It probably didn't come with a manual – they barely ever do – but even if it had, you probably wouldn't have read it. Understand what data goes where. If an app offers you "convenience" or "peace of mind" or "seamless back-ups" or "worry-free operation", don't necessarily be reassured. Take a moment to think about where your stuff is ending up. If it's the cloud, its physical location may be in a data centre on the other side of the world. If your passwords are strong enough, that's probably fine, but at least be informed. We're being let down by technology because we don't understand it. Absorbing enough knowledge to make decisions is a good thing.

4. Don't be lazy

There's a thing called 2-Factor Authentication which offers an additional layer of security online. iCloud (the Apple service being blamed for the leak) offers it as an option. Google services do. Paypal does. Use them. Yes, it might conceivably add 10 seconds to your log-in time. Your convenience will be marginally affected, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not a big deal.

5. Ignore anyone who sternly tells you not to use the cloud

It's virtually impossible. All major email services use it. Incredibly useful back-up services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive use it. We're stuck with it. Make the most of its power by bearing in mind steps 1-4.

6. Ignore those who tell you not to take nude pictures of yourself

Don't deny your innermost feelings. Do what you blimmin' well like. Feel free to succumb to sexual thrill and experience excitement. It's fine. Just do so while bearing in mind steps 1-4.

7. Ignore anyone who tells you that it's your fault for being famous...

...or a woman, or for making a film that wasn't up to scratch, or for somehow managing to antagonise a bunch of tragic sociopaths who can only derive meaning from their lives by making the lives of others completely miserable. It's not you, it's them. Deny them their pathetic pleasures by bearing in mind steps 1-4.