I’m sure we’re all aware of the importance of digital privacy and security, but I’m willing to bet many of us also know we’re not doing enough to protect ourselves online. Let’s change that.
There’s plenty of advice and guidance out there to help you protect yourself and your data online. It may seem overwhelming but doing something is better than nothing. Identify your biggest concern and focus on that to begin with, then build from there.
As a primer, you may want to read W. Ian O’Byrne’s clear explanation of the differences between privacy and security. Then let’s dig in to some recommendations and resources that will help you take action.
Encrypt your communications. Using messaging apps that encrypt your data means messages sent cannot be read by anyone but the intended recipient.
Block ads and trackers in your browser. Install a browser add-on that stops advertisers and third-party services from secretly tracking where you go on the web.
Use a password manager. Creating strong, unique passwords is tough if you’re relying on your memory to serve them up when needed. The result is that we become lazy and once we’ve got something that’s reasonably secure we reuse it for multiple accounts. I know I’ve been guilty of that. But now I’m using a password manager I have one master password to remember that gives me access to strong, unique passwords to all my accounts.
Use two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your accounts. With 2FA turned on, any attempt to log in to your accounts from a new device requires a verification code (usually sent via text message) on top of your password.
Encrypt your devices. If someone has physical access to your device it doesn’t need to mean that they also have access to all the data on it. Encrypting your devices means the data saved on them is scrambled and cannot be read without a key to decipher it.
Use secure connections to websites. We’ve all been taught to make sure that when we’re shopping online the checkout is secure. Using the plug-in HTTPS Everywhere you can make all of your browsing more secure.
Avoid unsecured WiFi networks. Turn off the ability for your devices to automatically connect to available WiFi networks. Make a choice and only connect to networks you trust.
The resources linked below provide further explanation and practical guides to help you take action on the privacy and security recommendations covered in this post:
- Take the time to review and ensure your digital hygiene – W. Ian O’Byrne
- A Healthy Internet is Secure and Private – Mozilla
- The 8-day Data Detox – Mozilla/Tactical Technology Collective
- Security Planner – CitizenLab
- How to Set Up Your Devices for Privacy Protection – DuckDuckGo
And finally, I’ll leave you with this advice from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Seven Steps to Digital Security:
Set security policies that are reasonable for your lifestyle, for the risks you face, and for the implementation steps you and your colleagues will take. A perfect security policy on paper won’t work if it’s too difficult to follow day-to-day.