The recent outing of Facebook as having nefariously collected, stored, and sold the data of millions of people, both users, and non Facebook users, made me rethink my online security.
Here are 5 ways to increase your online security.
- Use a VPN.
A VPN, or virtual private network, re-routes your traffic through different servers, located all over the earth, to confuse anyone who may be attempting to track you online. It can also help limit ads and malicious websites. The one I am currently using is called CyberGhostVPN. AVG also has a VPN service. If you use Opera as your internet browser, they have a built in VPN which you can activate when you are browsing secure sites, i.e. banking, financial services. At the least, you should ALWAYS use a VPN when you are on an open network
2. Use a password service.
Many people, including myself, use the same password, or slight variation thereof, for many different accounts on many different websites. A password service, (I use LastPass) can not only save all your passwords for various websites, LastPass even offers auto-fill, on both PC and mobile devices. It can generate secure passwords using various parameters, such as upper and lower case letters, number, and special characters, which you can set. One drawback is, all your usernames and passwords and protected by only one password. So make it a good one, and keep it in a secure location.
3. Use a secure browser.
While these browsers may not be secure on their own, Brave, Hola (also a VPN and ad blocker), and Epic Privacy Browser, will work alongside your VPN of choice, increasing your ad-blocking and anti-tracking capabilities.
4. Use a non-tracking search engine.
Many search engines will track your every move online. This is how they can serve you targeted ads. They will store “cookies” in your browser, which can track and store you online movement. They can then sell this information to the highest bidder. A search engine, such as duckduckgo.com will not track and store your information.
5. Stay off of social media.
While is is a non-starter for many, a great way to keep your private information private, is to not put it out there in the first place. To many people post nearly every minute of their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and then turn around and get upset that the social media giants have all their information. While I no longer use Facebook, I have been taking a look and several interesting looking social media sites. To name a several, MeWe, Yours, Minds, and Steemit claim to be committed to customer privacy. MeWe seems to be the closest Facebook clone of the four.
Use secure, encrypted, email. My choices are Protonmail, and Tutanota.
Secure messenger services. While Telegram is built on encryption, and includes texting, file sharing, and touch to talk, it is not the easiest, most convenient to use. I prefer it over many others, but some people have a hard time adapting to it. Voxer is a very convenient touch to talk service, and also includes texting, and file sharing. And while it doesn’t come standard with encrypted messages, they recently added the option to open private, encrypted chats, with plans to include group chats in the future.
As with all things, you will sacrifice a little convenience for more security. But in the end, for me at least, its worth the peace of mind.