Nothing is hack-proof. While we can never fully protect ourselves from hacking, any protection is better than none. So much of our lives have become digitalized; we are not only bonded to the silicon that comprises so many of our devices but also to the intangible fabric of cyberspace. Privacy is disappearing at an alarming rate. Vast amounts of our most sensitive information is up for grabs, passing through unprotected networks, and residing in the cloud.
We live in a world in which our whole life can be turned upside down with a few keystrokes, sending you very far down the rabbit hole. Taking steps to protect your digital assets is a crucial new responsibility to all who live in this fantastic yet frightening new era.
Choosing a Secure Device
Starting with the devices you use, there are many things to consider when choosing a computer or smartphone. One thing often neglected in the decision-making process is security. While weighing all the cool features and available colors, don’t forget to evaluate the security of the device.
The iOS is rather secure unless the user deliberately jailbreaks the phone, lifting all of the limitations imposed by Apple. While this gives users chaotic freedoms, it also leaves their phone extremely vulnerable to hacking and malware. Additionally, their personal information becomes more easily acquired.
Android has a dodgy reputation when it comes to security. The Android OS is markedly less secure than the iOS, but Android phones are significantly less expensive. This leaves it to the user to improve security themselves as much as possible given the limitations of the OS.
In any case, one of the best things you can do to keep your device secure is to limit the amount of apps that you download. One of the greatest threats posed to any OS comes from the increasingly sophisticated malware that plagues free apps.
Always Use a Private Search Engine
If privacy is a strong priority, search engines like DuckDuckGo, or StartPage, are both suitable choices. The largest search engines, Bing, Google, and Yahoo, are tracking your searches. They determine the kind of results you will get based off of your search history.
DuckDuckGo offers a strong search engine that doesn’t keep anything tying to you, and uses no cookies.
StartPage lets you use the power of Google’s search engine in complete discretion. It works by taking your searches and running it through Google, anonymously.
Get a Secure or Encrypted Email Account
One of your most vulnerable points is the email service you use. Gmail, while incredibly popular, and touting reasonable security, it is one of the worst choices for those who value their privacy. Users may be disappointed to discover that all of their messages through Gmail are opened and processed. Gmail scans for keywords in your messages that help compile targeted advertisements. So if that pair of shoes your friend was just telling you about shows up in an ad on the side of your screen, you can thank Gmail, and if you put it in your email, they’ll know.
When looking for a secure and private email service, Protonmail comes highly recommended. While you may only be looking for enough protection to not feel creeped out by targeted ads or have your information fall into the wrong hands, Microsoft’s Outlook doesn’t read its user’s mail to push advertisements, and it offers decent protection.
Protonmail, a Swiss based encrypted email service offers a level of protection that not even the FBI can touch. Whatever your reasons, if you need extreme level of privacy, Protonmail is an excellent choice. Its servers, and your information by extension, are based in Switzerland, a land whose reputation for keeping secrets is well deserved. Whether it’s the NSA, the FBI, or any other menacing acronym, when they come knocking, Protonmail has you covered because not even the staff at Protonmail can access your email. (Biggs)
Use a Secure Network
Finally, after securing your device, search engine, and your email, it is integral that you also secure your network. This is best achieved by having a secure network in the first place. When it comes to a secure network, nothing beats a VPN, or virtual private network. By using a VPN, your internet activity and communications are encrypted and secured.