If you’re using the Internet without being worried about how to protect your online privacy, I salute you. But take it from someone who knows a thing or two about privacy, Edward Snowden – you need to protect yourself when going online.
To an average person, this may sound paranoid, but every move you make on the web, whom you’re friends with on Facebook and so on is all monitored. This data is collected not just by the government, but also by companies, advertisers, and others.
Does that mean that you should leave the Internet for good and toss out your smartphone? No, it just means you (and we all) need to learn to better protect your online privacy
In a recent interview with The Intercept, Edward Snowden outlines five ways to protect yourself online.
Encrypt your phone calls
The first step to protecting yourself online, says Snowden, is to make sure your phone calls are encrypted. Snowden recommends using an app called Signal for this. Signal was developed by Open Whisper Systems and is available for both Android and iOS devices. Another good way to protect your online privacy when using a smartphone is to buy a Blackphone from Silent Circle.
Use a password manager
Imagine this scenario (not at all that unlikely): You signed in for a service somewhere five years ago. Since then, you have long stopped using it and have completely forgotten about it. However, it gets hacked and your password along with it. If you’ve been negligent and used the same password as your Gmail account, this is a big problem. It is a problem because the hackers may try your password on other popular websites. If you use the same password many places, eventually, they will be able to hack some of your accounts.
Fortunately, you can sleep more easily if you use a good password manager like LastPass or 1Password.
As much as today’s browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox are good for average users, the very fact that they follow your every move online can be a cause for worry. If you’re not keen on revealing this information around and want to remain anonymous, Snowden recommends installing and using Tor. Although its creators recently admitted it wasn’t 100% impenetrable, this is one of the most efficient ways to keep your online browsing anonymous.
Use a 2-factor authentication
Let’s say you were careless and someone manages to steal your password. If you have 2-factor authentication enabled, there’s not much they can do with it. If you have it on, 2-factor authentication will enable the provider to send you another means of authentication. This can be a text message, a code or something like that. Since whoever stole your password doesn’t have that, you’re safe.
Encrypt your hard disk
Even if you do all of the above, your online privacy is still not secure if your computer gets physically stolen. Since we all keep both personal and business-related information on our computers, it’s not a very pleasant prospect if someone steals your computer and gains access to it. This could put your address, kids’ names, where you work or maybe your social security number in unwanted hands. This is why installing a secure operating system like Linux is a good idea.
If you’re running a recent version of macOS, you’ll likely have disk encryption on by default, while on Windows 10 you can find it by typing “Encryption” in the Start Menu, selecting “Change Device Encryption Settings” and turning on “Manage BitLocker”.
That’s it. If you want to know more about how to protect your online privacy, go ahead and visit our Complete Guide to Online Privacy.