Are you using a digital device? Android or iPhone? Is it secure? Does it ensure your privacy? With the increased use of devices, concerns and doubts have also increased. We must know how we can avoid getting in trouble due to these devices. Therefore, it is important to know what features these devices offer for our protection.

Everyone has their own mobile phones and therefore prefers their own levels of privacy. Since the use has increased, more personal information is stored on the smartphones. From contact details, passwords and emails as well as credit card details. Although it is an easy to use your mobile for various services including online payments, it has raised many security concerns and recorded millions of hacking, malicious and theft stories. Every day many news reports narrate huge theft stories or how people are being blackmailed. It has been a great attention for hackers, they manipulate your personal information for a significant amount of money.

online privacy guide stats
Most concerning things about online usage according to Internet users

 

Since security concerns have increased on a very high rate globally, government agencies have been very active in observing internet activity of their citizens to control any terrorist activities. National security is every country’s priority, therefore each government designs more advanced rules to maintain high levels of security. This includes monitoring internet activity or allowing specific content to be delivered to its populations. That means, surveillance in public places is being stored and can be used by the government.

In recent years, iPhone is being considered a more secure system than an Android. Firstly it has a strong analysis before it allows applications to enter into the application store. Secondly, end-to-end encryption helps protect your data from being monitored by unwanted parties. It enables only the sender and receiver to know about the data exchanged, even companies cannot access it. But, since hackers may hack an end point that is one of the devices, company’s servers or internet system.

Guide to online Privacy protection
Actions were taken by Online users in the US to be more secure online as of May 2018

Secure Your Devices (mobile phones/tablets)

All devices come with their in-built security functions, but still with advancement in technologies loopholes may question a device’s security level. These few steps can also enhance your security on your mobile phones.

  • You Must Turn Off Fingerprint Phone Unlock

Fingerprint ID and face ID are on hype these days. No stranger can open your mobile phone without you. But what if someone attacks you and forces you to open your phone with just a fingerprint or face ID? It will be an easy attack. Also, researches are now showing, hackers can use fake fingerprints to hack your mobile.

According to legal rules, federal agents have the right to force you to unlock your mobile phone with your fingerprints, while they don’t have the right to force you to use the password to unlock it. Better change your security locks to passwords and pins.

  • Mobile Browser Security

The most common browser everyone is using are Chrome and Firefox. There are many other companies that are offering more secure internet browsing. People also use private browsers, but they cannot be considered completely secure. A secure browser must erase your information as soon as you close the tabs, erase the history of your internet activity and delete passwords as well.

Also note your applications. Because before an application installs, it needs to get few permissions from the user to access your phone’s features or data including your camera, contacts and photos as well. You don’t know how they use that information. Firefox extensions can be used on mobile like uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere and Self-Destructing Cookies.

  • Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Setting up a strong password can also be a helpful step. Most phones have a four digit password option. Use custom numeric codes to make your mobile more secure. Android offers many options for locking your mobile i.e. swipe, password and pin. The most recommended option is password, since swipe or pattern are very easy to be identified. Make sure your password is strong, don’t keep a number that can guessed very easily like your date of birth etc.

  • Set Up 2F Authentication on Apps

Making an extra effort to make your mobile more secure, is always recommendable. This enables you to make multi-steps after entering password to login to the given account. There are different options for this. You can get a code via text message or email. It is harder for people to their devices or online passwords.

two-factor authentication
Share of Online users in the US who use two-factor authentication

Using a PC/Laptop? These Recommendations Will be Really Helpful

How can you use a computer to ensure security?

Since every system has prioritized to maintain secure systems because the more secure a system is the more loyal customers it will have. They are also in constant struggle resolve security concerns, therefore there are constant update. Making sure your mobile is up to date can significantly reduce attacks. Using ad-blockers are also very helpful as they prevent installing tracking cookies and suspicious content that may enter through mobile.

Encrypt Your Local Files, Folders, and Drives

Also make sure your computer is fully encrypted, Windows and Mac have easy encryption options. And don’t upload your encryption keys to the cloud. It can be manipulated.

Data brokers are websites that crawl your web and record your personal information, and post on online platforms. Your personal information can be traded for millions. However, there are few websites that can help you delete your online information that is available to these companies.

Encryption tools are used to encode data that makes the unblock with certain key as it gets harder to access. Such tools are used to protect data such as email address and passwords.

  • 128-bit encryption is used to encode data on a routinely basis and in some places 256-bit encryption is used to manage protection for sensitive data.
  • Ciphers perform encryption with mathematics. The common ciphers used today are OpenVPN like AES.

Secure Your Text Messages

After you have made your devices secure it is important to secure your SMS and calls. According to most laws, your SMS and calls can be wiretapped to get detailed information about you like your personality, your circle etc. There are few apps that can help you limit this also. But, emails couldn’t be made secure yet.

Some applications can help you encrypting your messages. You can also customize these applications to encrypt some specific contacts.

Facebook and WhatsApp use some major protocols to protect your messages and are considered safe, that means Facebook and WhatsApp cannot access your messages. But still, backing up on cloud services can ruin your privacy. Backups on cloud can be accessed through search warrants and it can be accessed whom you are communicating with and at what time.

Apple’s messages are also made secure with end-to-end encryption. But since the other party is encryption level is not confirmed, it may be questioned. Backups on iCloud can also be enforced to being used during investigation. An encrypted local backup on your iPhone and IPad can help restore your data in case if it breaks.

Anonymize Your Internet

You can also use alternatives to Google:

Google offers a large range of web-based services. But, in the internet world, it is like taking free stuff with the cost of giving your information. Google also may take your information and store.

Browsing is the most common activity on mobile phones, but here’s how people may get involved in your browsing. Ad networks may track your activity as you hop from one site to another to know about your interests. Your internet provider can also log pages you visit and hackers will try to target you, mainly for a monitory benefit.

online privacy
Which of these measures do you take with regard to the online privacy?

You can be easily tracked by Google AdSense, YouTube or any other service owned by Google.  Using Private Search Engines that are privacy-friendly can help you avoid this. They don’t gather information about you. The following suggestions ca be among good option:

  1. DuckDuckGo
  2. Search Encrypt
  3. Start Page

Don’t leave your mobile unattended, they have higher chances to get hacked since you cannot control who may use it. Also don’t keep sensitive information like your passwords in cloud services.

Use the Tor browser with a VPN

The Onion Router is an open network. It is a free software. You can use Tor Browser with Tor disabled can be good for protecting you. It helps by protecting you against browser fingerprinting, browser’s default (protected) settings play their role. It also blends in and with other Tor browser users should be utilized along with a good VPN service to ensure maximum protection.

Block ads, malware, adware, trackers, phishing

As highlighted earlier, advertisement companies are on top of the list to monitor your activity. More than 900,000 ads contain malware, most of which can install dangerous software and virus onto your device. Ads popping on your screen are the easiest hooks to steal your data and activity on the internet. The following few suggestions can help you protect against the block ads, malware, adware etc.

  • Add Some Browser Add-ons

The recommended Firefox browser add-ons include uBlock Origin, uMatrix, CanvasBlocker and Privacy Badger. One point to note is that all add-ons don’t work for all browsers.

  • Use a VPN

By using a VPN you can not only encrypt the data through secure tunnels but also with its exclusive feature you can integrate advertisement/tracking filter. Popular VPNs have ad-blocking built in their applications including ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Private Internet Access.

How VPN Works

Also Read: What is VPN? A Beginner’s Guide

  • Plug an eBlocker

It’s a small box that is plugged in router and offers blanket protection without any additional installation of software. Online privacy can be enhanced by adding a VPN.

Use a Safe VPN

VPN is a Virtual Private Network that uses encryption technologies and creates tunnels between the sender and the receiver. There are many VPNs available with different features to suit a client’s specific needs. Some effective protocols a VPN uses includes IP security, Layer 2 Tunneling (L2TP) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). You can use a reliable VPN to secure your devices and protect your privacy. VPNs are designed to be easy to use for the customers. They also enable you to access content that has been blocked by geo-graphic restrictions. Since there are so many VPNs in the market, choosing the best ones may be hard. They may also vary in their functionality for Android and Mac OS versions as well as their payment bundles.

VPN set up across the world is very expensive. Free VPNs may seem a relaxing option but they may not be secure enough. Instead of making your experience secure, they may manipulate you by recording your activity and sell it to third parties. Some VPNs may also steal your bandwidth or hijack your browser or may leak your IP addresses. Some VPNs may allow only a small amount as a sample to check it fits your requirement. Later, they charge their user.

Therefore, choosing a budget friendly VPN that suits your activity is always preferable. Install a VPN with an ad-blocker and make sure it offers leak protection, and clears your logs.

Also Read: Best VPN for Windows

Secure Your Router

Internet routers have different configuring settings. There are many ways you can make sure your internet connection is also secure. You can change router login and password. Set passwords with WPA2 encryption rather than WEP; it is easy to be attacked by hackers. Also disable the WPS. Pins are easier to be broken rather setting a password is a better way to protect your router.

VPN Enabled RouterInternet Service Provider can monitor as well as record everything you do. There may be chances of selling this to strangers. Installing a VPN will be good help to secure your routers.

Secure Your Email

Email is the widely used means to communicate across all mediums. We share picture, personal information, important documents. But we aren’t sure about how much secure it will be. Email accounts are the easiest to be hacked and  can be accessed by agencies anytime. There are few steps that are essential to take to make sure your email is safe.

  • Use a Strong Password

Compose it of mixed letters and numbers, do not use a common and complete word. Combination of punctuation’s, symbols and lower and capital letters will make a strong password. Many sites have the option of questions, choose difficult questions.

  • Use a Secure Email Service

A secure email service should have strong encryption like Secure Socket Layers (SSL). A web-address with ‘https’ is more secure than ‘http’. Google is using advanced services, that make them secure. There should be end-to-end email encryption, enabling only the receiver to decrypt the relevant email. A PGP encryption is a secure way to secure your emails. It is not easy to use and requires participation from both.

  • Email Encryption

It is a difficult procedure, but if you are a tech person, you should encrypt you’re your emails.

Secure (or delete) your social media

Secure Your Social Media96% people don’t trust social media to protect their privacy. Although, the advancement in latest mobile features including face recognition, tracking and monitoring, seem to enhance your security but in fact they are a threat to your privacy.

The simplest solution is to delete your social media accounts specially those that may harm your privacy. In case you really need them, then you must follow the following steps to maintain your privacy:

  • De-indexing your social media accounts so they don’t appear in search engines like Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Delete your photos, locations, and private information.
  • Using stricter privacy settings can also enhance your privacy.

Allena Dominus

Started the career as a Product Manager, I now reveal the ins and outs of the digital world, online privacy, IoTs, and the trends shaping the technology industry and much more.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. “Federal agents have the right to force you to unlock your mobile phone with your fingerprints, while they don’t have the right to force you to use a password to unlock it.” – Wow, first time hearing such thing, that’s insane right? I agree with your VPN service suggestions, I use NordVPN myself, and as far as I heard it from my friends, everyone is quite happy using it, just like me.

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