Internet Anonymity a Distant Memory? Here’s How to Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
When it comes to technology, my colleagues think I am a bit of an alarmist. For example, I am hesitant to download any freemium applications on my phone or tablet; I always check the terms and conditions of any online service; and I even cover my laptop webcam with a piece of tape.
Am I paranoid? Perhaps.
A common credo I hear from my peers is that “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” This has always seemed like a bizarre line of reasoning to me. If we had nothing to fear, why would we lock our cars or put doors on our bedrooms? Why would we keep money in the bank or protect our social security numbers?
“Well that’s different,” my friends say. But is it? Locked doors and safe boxes are designed specifically for hiding our valuables from greedy hands; fences and blinds are meant to protect our privacy. There are plenty of things we like to hide, not because they are illegal or immoral, but because they are valuable or personal.
So what exactly am I trying to protect myself from? The government, advertisers, hackers… pretty much anyone I haven’t explicit approved to handle my information.
While personal information is sacred, business information is even more treasured. If a hacker can compromise a single employee, they can similarly affect your corporate network, your customers and, eventually, your bottom line.
Below are a few tips to take control of your personal and business data. Don’t worry, the whole process should only take you one hour.
Incognito Isn’t Enough – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
There seems to be some major misunderstanding about what incognito mode actually does. It does not obscure your identity online and is not a form of safe browsing. Instead, it prevents your browser from storing your internet history, cookies or cached images.
Why is this useful? Let’s say you wanted to shop for underwear online, but don’t want lingerie banner advertisements popping up in your browser the next day at work. Or perhaps you are searching for a romantic dinner spot for your hubby and don’t want the surprise ruined by Google autofill. Incognito mode is perfect for these situations, but that’s about it.
If you really want to stay anonymous online and obscure your online activities, you should download a Tor web browser. Tor conceals a user’s identity by routing and encrypting traffic through random communication channels, thereby making it nearly impossible to tell the originator of a traffic request.
Tor browsers are 100 percent legal, as is hiding your IP address or erasing your browser history.
Email Bulwark – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
Your email address is a master key to all your online profiles, which is why it is crucial to treat it with the upmost caution. If you use a popular email service like Gmail or Yahoo, be sure to turn on your two-factor authentication for improved security.
If you want to take things to the next level, ProtonMail is a secure email service with built-in end-to-end encryption. It has even called itself “the only email system the NSA can’t access.”
Improve Your Password Protection – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is often one of the most overlooked. Passwords and PINs are your first, and sometimes last, layer of security. So, do your best to come up with unique passphrases for all your accounts and devices. If you have trouble keep everything straight, use a password manager.
But sometimes, even the best passwords are bypassed which is why it behooves business to invest in cyber protections such as data breach insurance or cyber policy coverage. These are, in essence, a financial safety net for businesses victimized by cybercriminals.
Use an Encrypted Messaging Service – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
For those who don’t know, end-to-end encryption is a method of secure communication that uses various coded keys to ensure safe message delivery to the proper recipient.
Signal is a very popular, open source encrypted communications tool famously used by controversial leaker Edward Snowden. Similarly, Wicker safeguards your messages but deletes them after a set period to prevent snooping. Once you’ve downloaded these services, invite your friends to do the same.
Embrace Encrypted Storage – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
It’s easy to turn on built-in full-disk encryption for your Window or MacOS device. If you prefer working from the cloud, as many businesses do, be sure to use a service with forced end-to-end encryption.
Search Differently – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
Believe it or not, but your search engine provider knows a lot about you. Do yourself a favor and use DuckDuckGo to keep your online searches anonymous.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi – Encrypt Your Virtual Life in an Hour
Do you have any remote employees that work from free public Wi-Fi? Then your business might be in danger. Public Wi-Fi is not as safe as it seems because it allows hackers to join the same network and monitor information being sent to and from your computer.
If you must use public Wi-Fi, at least employ a virtual private network (VPN) to conceal your movements.
Each of these processes only takes a few minutes, so you have no excuse for not improving your online security today.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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