I should have written this post nearly 2 months ago. Unless you live in an internet depraved country, you must have heard of ‘PRISM’ or ‘NSA’. We have already lost that war, all we can do is lick or wounds. Its our fault too. We became more and more willing to choose convenience over privacy, while companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo (which have become part of our daily life) encouraged it.
Now picture this, anyone with access to the databases of these companies can paint a complete picture of a person based on their online footprint. Private emails sent between you and your wife or your girlfriend are all available for the viewing pleasure of some government or corporate agent.
And if you think PRISM is the only thing out there spying on you, you are wrong. Snowden also revealed the existence of programs such as XKEYSCORE and TEMPORA that were part of a global surveillance program conducted by not only the US but also its allies that includes the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These countries are spying on India and other nations like China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, France, Brazil, Japan, Germany and Afghanistan using data gleaned online.
And because of this spying game you need to be all the more careful. Even though it’s already late, there are some things you can do to protect your privacy and your data online. You might be also interested to know how internet works before getting to know the ways to protect your privacy online.
So, here are five small tips to keep yourself and your data protected online:-
1. SIGN OUT!
I can’t emphasize this enough. I don’t mind repeating this all over again. But unfortunately Google will penalize me for over stuffing of keywords 😛
Whenever you search the web while you are signed in you are unknowingly letting websites and search engines know your search pattern.
Picture this, you are planning to build a custom desktop computer. You google for computer parts while you are signed in. You click on online shopping links for checking out its prices. The next day, say, you visit some blog or news website. Obviously, the blog or website will display the ads. But, it will show you ads relevant to your current buying interest, i.e. computer parts.
Coincidence? I don’t think so! So, again, Sign out! And search.
Password is the most important component of your online life. No matter how many times we have read, that we need multiple, strong and secure passwords, we don’t keep them. We don’t even care, until our account is hacked.
3. Two-Step Verification
An important add-on to your password. If you have this option, enable it. This is certainly one of the safest and easiest methods of logging in anywhere. Two-Step verification is a pain, I know that, but you will be thanking yourself that you enabled it, the day your account have been compromised.
4. Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is very tempting. Why pay when you can get it for free? The thing is, don’t use public Wi-Fi networks to access private and secure data so that you would not have fall into wrong hands. If you do use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). But that’s not guaranteed to protect your privacy online.
Leaving passwords in Google docs or Skydrive is not a smart idea. Don’t leave sensitive data just lying around. If you do want to upload private data, use encryption utilities like true-crypt to encrypt your info before uploading the data.
I have done my part, warn you and give you five small tips to protect your privacy online. Now it’s up to you to implement it. By the way, the best place to store sensitive data is in your head, which no one can hack into. Share this, not for me, but for your friends. There is no harm in letting them knowing it, is there?