The pandemic has increased the time and activities we perform online. This makes the internet more dangerous than ever before. But you can guarantee your privacy and security with the right tools.
If you adopt five simple tools to protect your privacy, you have nothing to fear from the world’s digital wrongdoers. However, if privacy and security are a concern for you, investing some time, energy, and even money must be in the cards. Increasing your expertise will translate into peace of mind.
So you like to browse around the web. There are sites with content you like, stores that offer merchandise you want to buy, and useful services. This is not a new thing by any means, but the pandemic has made online activities, commercial and otherwise, explode like never before. So now it’s much more common to buy your stuff on Amazon, to name the most obvious example (this propelled Jeff Bezos to become a trillionaire, and during the current health crisis, Amazon has hired several new employers that outnumber the population in many of the world’s smallest countries).
The digital lifestyle means that you have to use your credit card numbers. But you want to remain safe. You want all your personal and financial information to remain out of the hands of the black hats, and you don’t want to get hacked so that your digital life is an advantage and not a hindrance.
The good news is that keeping your life and your information safe and out of the reach of the bad guys is easier now than ever before if you pay attention to a few important details.
The irony is that security problems are exploding. About 21% of the world’s online users have had their social media or email accounts hacked or taken over by others without their knowledge or consent. That’s about a fifth of the world’s users. A smaller fraction of eleven percent has had their SSN, credit card numbers, or banking information stolen.
So the relevant question is: how do you keep your privacy secure in the brave new online world? Security is an area in which there is never a final solution to anything. But today, you will find, here, five privacy tools that will help you have a digital life that will be immune from the wrongdoers of the world. If you follow the suggestions in this article, you’ll find that you can browse around the world to your heart’s content without the fear of being hacked. Let’s start.
It’s all about the browser now. The kind reader could be amongst those early internet users who had several protocols to choose from, such as FTP, Usenet, etc. Of course, those tools are still around, but being on the internet means being on the world wide web in this day and age. And for that, you need a browser.
Browsers are your windows into the web. If you want to buy something, start an online transaction, see again that favorite movie on Netflix, or a myriad of other things, the trip starts by launching your browser. It’s as simple as that. We know that you know that. And bad guys know that as well. We refer to ad fraudsters and internet scammers whose malarky is all about your browsing activity.
And that is why using a browser with good privacy features is critical for your security. You probably like Google Chrome. You should! It’s great! It has all these awesome features that provide us with such a pleasant and frictionless browsing experience! But Google Chrome has no privacy features at all, which is why it’s not the browser you should use for serious business that needs security.
Firefox is almost every bit as good as Chrome, if maybe a bit bulkier, but it has privacy features. Firefox is a very well-established piece of software, and it’s available in almost every platform and OS a man knows. And it will allow you to configure your privacy settings in such a way as to ensure that your online security is bulletproof.
Brave is a newer browser than Firefox that also includes amazing security features. Brave’s specialty is to guard you against fake advertisements, click-baits, and tracking. It even has other add-ons that increase its security, such as uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere, and Cookie Autodelete. You can also use private search engines in tandem with the browser to increase your safety in the next section.
Pirate search engines
Google, Yahoo, and Bing are great search engines for sure. They are fast, powerful, and instrumental. But, unfortunately, they are also not your friend.
Their business model is to keep track of and history of your internet activities so that they can turn you into the perfect recipient that their advertisers need. In this, as in everything else on the internet, always remember that when something is seemingly free, you are the product.
The good news is that Google and its commercial competitors are not a natural fact. The world includes private search engines that do not keep records of your activity or your histories, like Bing or Google. These options include Searx, Qwant, Metager, DuckDuckGo, and StartPage. Try them. Get used to them. They will help you stay safe.
Malware and ad blockers
Online advertising is not only a pain in the ass. It can also be dangerous. Malvertising is, indeed, one of the most severe dangers online when it comes to online security. The term applies to fake ads that attack a computer with malware and other digital threats.
In 2016 alone, Google took down almost a million ads fraught with malware. But, unfortunately, 112 million more “trick to click” ads were there as well (these are the ones that install a virus or a trojan in a user’s device) and about 80 million ads were deceitful, misleading, or shocking to users.
Ads are the weapon of choice for ad fraudsters. Why? Because internet ads answer a device’s browsing history. The history is collected, reviewed, and sent to third parties that know how to mine it and make it useful. Then the information becomes the tool that allows them to create fake ads targeted specifically to you. So they can look quite legit. They’re not. That’s why an effective security strategy in all your devices should include ad blockers as another way to bulletproof your digital activities.
You can use a VPN to block advertising. TrackStop is a good option that comes to mind and blocks malicious ads and similar threats so that they don’t hack your private data. And there is ad-blocking hardware too. Toys like eBlocker or Raspberry Pi with Pi-Hole included can improve your network security greatly.
Use a secure router
Having a VPN router at home will do a couple of beneficial tricks for you. First, your VPN-protected devices will be immune to surveillance and spying because VPNs not only hide your IP but also encrypt all the information coming and going. Second, it will also protect you from ad fraud and other malicious online attacks.
If you have no idea about getting started with this option, you can start with ASUSWRT, a VPN-enabled router with default ASUS firmware that supports VPNs like OpenVPN and L2TP.
Use a good VPN
A good VPN goes a long way in protecting your privacy. It hides your IP; it encrypts all your data. Granted, it slows things down a little, but if security is a priority for you, it’s well worth it.
Just keep in mind that you have to pay for protection if you really want protection from your VPN. Yes, there are plenty of free VPNs on the web, and you don’t want them. Their business is to collect your data and sell it. So, if you want to be safe, you need to do a bit of research, find a good commercial VPN, subscribe, and pay your monthly fee.
Securing your online experience is important. And it’s possible. Yes, there are some problems to solve and you need to make some digital lifestyle choices that will help you. But every problem has a solution, and in a world in which privacy breaches are becoming rampant, there is no need for you to become a victim.
All you need to do is keep in mind all the suggestions in this article and take them seriously. Adopting even one of the options we suggest here will go a long way in giving you peace of mind.
And if you are serious about this, investing something of your time, energy, and even money is something you need to consider. However, if you take a few simple steps as we indicate, you will find that swimming in a digital ocean filled with sharks, you still will not need to fear them.