Not many people take online privacy and security seriously. It’s not an exciting topic, and people that are not tech-savvy often end up confused.
For this reason, we have decided to create an introductory article for all those that haven’t heard of 2-factor authentification, Tor, VPN, and similar technologies. The online surveillance has become widespread and if you believe you don’t have anything to hide — please read on, you may think otherwise by the end of this article. Now we are going to go through the basic steps for improving your security online.
Enable 2-factor Authentification
Two-factor authentification is another layer of security on top of the standard username/password layer. Besides requiring to input your password, it requires you to enter a code that is sent to your smartphone. These codes are usually valid only for a couple of seconds, adding extra security to your online accounts.
In order to hack your account, the crooks would now need not only your password but also access to your phone. In some cases, this code can be generated from an app installed on your phone or even by a small hardware device — but most online services rely on messaging to your phone number.
Use a Password Manager
Our team was recently talking about security and we have a general feeling that people use weak passwords. The only reasons for this are they are easy to remember and convenient to type in.
Using a password manager should be the next step for all of you looking to increase the security of your account. Use a different password for each service you use, and always generate long and complicated passwords. By adding an extra number, dot or similar sign to your password you extend the brute force hacking time by days. And the more time and resources it takes to hack it, the less likely crooks will go that way.
Use a VPN Service
VPN is something many forget about. To put it plainly, your computer/smartphone have a unique ID (the IP address). And when you browse the web, everyone knows what you do and where are you located because IP address can be tracked to your physical address.
Everyone from the government, Internet provider, and hackers can track everything you do online, and ultimately track it to your physical address. Using a VPN helps keep your privacy in check.
You simply connect to a VPN server and then this VPN service masks your location. Without a VPN, your location and an IP address are public. But with VPN, you still have an IP address and the location, it’s just changed. It can come from servers across the world, showing that you are in China, for example.
Besides that, your data is encrypted, making it harder to steal your info. VPNs are also a great way to go around the censorship in certain countries. Since certain websites are blocked based on your location, VPN can make it look like you are coming from another country and grant you access to these services. This is especially important for foreigners that often cannot access their social media in restricted countries, essentially getting them cut off from the communication channels used at home.
You must know that any activity on networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Google are tracked and will always be traced back to you. This is not only the nature of these products, but they’re all bound to the US law. Use these networks wisely. Post whatever you want, but keep your private conversations private by using a VPN connection & a service that doesn’t give away your data. (more about that further down in this article)
All of these things can be also achieved by using the Tor browser. Tor is a browser focused on anonymity and decentralization. Since Tor uses many different participants in the network to keep everything anonymous, each action takes extra time. This is why it is not really great for daily use. Instead, use Tor for anything that needs an extra layer of security.
Cover Your Cameras
This may seem like a bit paranoid, but we point phone camera at our face every time we check our messages. In addition, there is another camera in the back that records our surroundings. The same goes for our laptops.
Cameras can be turned on from the distance using special software, without any signs that it is recording.
As for the microphone, there is an app called Micro Snitch which tracks the use of the microphone and alerts the user when an app tries to access it without your consent. The conversations you want to lead in “private” are not really that if you have two phones, a laptop and Amazon Alexa in the room.
And even tho the majority of us does not have anything to hide, it is important to be aware of these things.
We hope that this article was simple enough to understand. This article is here only to provide you with the basics of privacy protection. If you want to dive deeper, the internet is full of great resources. Naturally, there is always more we can do to stay safe, but this is a great way to start.