Safer internet day was a widespread campaign that saw tech giants come together to sensitize the public about online security and privacy rights. It is an annual global event set aside to promote the safe, responsible, and positive use of digital technology.
In that spirit, today we are going to share with you, some tips on how to take online security and privacy matters into your own hands. That way whether you are an activists protesting against an autocratic regime or just a law-abiding citizen concerned about the government putting their noses where it doesn’t belong. These tips will go a long way towards ensuring your online privacy and security.
Ø Always use Encrypted-messaging apps
When it comes to messaging apps, the biggest threats are from their servers being hacked and the man-in-the-middle attacks. Well, it would be a lie to say there is a foolproof way to keep them at bay, but it would be foolish to sit there like a duck waiting to be slaughtered.
Make things extra hard for them by using encrypted messaging apps like Signal, which has full end-to-end encryption that scrambles your messages in a manner any would be interceptor cannot decrypt. Signal is the best end-to-end encrypted messaging apps. Others apps include Telegram, WhatsApp.
Ø Encrypt your emails
A government agency can get a search warrant from the courts and scan all your emails stored on a server. A smart hacker can obtain your login credentials and read all your emails.
To make their work harder and better secure yourself, use an encrypting tool like the PGP that encrypts all your emails with a key, which only you have possession.
Ø Encrypt all Devices
That means your all smartphones, tablets, and computers. And please don’t fool yourself, it doesn’t matter how strong your password is, even someone with basic IT skills can take your hard drive and plug it into another computer and extract your files.
To fully protect data on your computer you need the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE), which will encrypt everything stored on your hard drive and it won’t matter who has taken the drive, only you got the key to access it.
You can also use third-party encryption software like the Symantec Endpoint Encryption for a full hard disk encryption, but all latest version of computer Oss have the FED feature inbuilt. On Windows, you got the BitLocker while on MacOS you go to the FileVault. Mobile devices too have it; iOS 8 and later version and Android Lollipop and later version come with full-disk encryption activated by default.
Ø Encrypt your Browser
Online security can be a bit trick. Thus, you have to be extra careful. When browsing, always ensure you are on sites with URLs starting with ‘https’ (the ‘s’ means ‘secure’). Sites whose URLs start with HTTP transmits data that are not encrypted and thus easy to eavesdrop.
You can install HTTPS Everywhere extension on most mainstream browsers to get an additional layer of security that encrypt your traffic even on HTTP-types of unsecured sites. However, HTTPS is not enough to conceal everything. Still, someone can eavesdrop on the sites and URLs you are visiting.
A foolproof way to be secured is by using the TOR browser, it encrypts the entire traffic and channels it through multiple computers, and making it impossible for a would-be hacker to extract any information from you.
Ø Encrypt your internet traffic
As an additional layer of security, you should also encrypt your internet traffic. I mean everything coming in and out of your device should be encrypted, and you can do this by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN works by encrypting all internet traffic in and out of your devices and forwards all that traffic through a secure server that could be located in a different geographical location from you.
That makes it difficult for someone to monitor your activities. Some of the best free VPNs include Psiphon, which was designed for people living under an autocratic regime with a lot of censorship. You can also install a hardware from TOR, the Anonabox, a VPN router that secures your internet traffic and frees your devices from the extra processing power needed to run the encryption and decryption function of a VPN software.
Ø Encrypt your Files on the Cloud
A lot of people have unfounded trust in the cloud. Your cloud is only as secure as the servers of your cloud service provider. That said, you should be proactive in securing your files stored in the cloud, and it is as easy as only uploading password-protected zip files into the cloud.
Yes, the process of unzipping and zipping your files each time you want to access them can be frustrating, but it will be worth it when your cloud service provider server gets hacked or spied on. Alternatively, you can always use third party cloud encryption tools like the Boxcryptor, which can secure the popular cloud storage service like Dropbox and Google Drive. There are also secure cloud storage services like the SpiderOak One that has inbuilt encryption.
These are some of the security layers you can use to protect your online security and privacy. Please note, encryption is not the silver bullet to fix all your security problems. Nonetheless, you must practice due diligence while online; keep your software, operating system, and antivirus updated. Have a strong password for your offline and online accounts, and do not use the same password on more than one account.