10 simple things you can do to strengthen your online privacy

June 13, 2013 Comments Off on 10 simple things you can do to strengthen your online privacy

It’s been a very disheartening couple of weeks for people concerned with protecting personal information. From the US Supreme Court’s ruling about routine DNA collection to the ongoing revelations about the NSA Prism program, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such massive data collection. And while the amount of surveillance – from governments, corporations, and even nosy individuals – is likely to increase, there are a few basic things you can do to help safeguard your data from others.

  1. Reduce your activity on social networks. Did you know that banks routinely check out your FaceBook profile? And now the IRS has joined the party.
  2. Encrypt important files. TrueCrypt is an excellent choice for this essential task.
  3. Use a secure search engine. Google is very clear about how it stores your search history. If this bothers you, take a look at DuckDuckGo and ixquick.
  4. Use a more secure browser. Chrome is a good choice, but there are additional offerings out there. You can expect this market to heat up in the wake of all these snooping disclosures.
  5. Clear your browser cookies regularly. Many web sites inspect these cookies to get a much better idea of your browsing history.
  6. Use TOR or a VPN. These options both offer greatly improved communication security. TOR is easy to set up and use, too.
  7. Create multiple email addresses. There’s no reason to route everything through a single address. Instead, consider setting up different accounts at various providers.
  8. Put your phone in airplane mode when you’re not using it. Your phone constantly transmits details about your location back to your service provider. If you’re not actively using it, why broadcast that information?
  9. Pay cash. Do you really need to charge that burger?
  10. Be stingy with what you share. It may sound anachronistic in this age of updating FaceBook with every trivial aspect of life, but consider simply entering less data about yourself online. For example, there’s no reason for you to provide an e-commerce site with your home, work, and mobile phone numbers.

I’ll be adding more tips to the list, so if this topic interests you be sure to check back here from time to time or follow me on Twitter at @RD_Schneider.

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