Security and ‘Being Watched’

Most of us like to share using texts, phone calls and pictures with our friends and family. We use the smart phones, mail, email and social media. What most of us are concerned with is ‘others’ watching us when we haven’t given our permission. It is like if someone comes up to you in a store and looks over your shoulder while you are showing pics of your kids to a friend. You would both look at that ‘other’ person and comment… ‘excuse me?!?’  Private conversation here! or Who asked you?

That is why security and being aware that you are being watched is important especially in light of all the truth coming out about the NSA, CIA, DHS or any other alphabet group you can name about snooping on people here in the united States of America. So I was just reading this blog post by Eliot Estep and really wanted to share his “7 Powerful Ways to Maintain Your Privacy and Integrity Online“.  He has some great ideas and steps you can take immediately to insure a ‘better internet’ privacy.

Here are his tips for privacy – they are a great start.

‘1. Use for all your searches. Known as “the world’s most private search engine”, StartPage will allow you to search anonymously and securely through Google.’  I have used this for the past several years and love it…. BTW the Startpage people are coming out with their own email provider… Startmail sometime this Fall!

‘2. Consider using an Anonymizer such as Tor to protect your identity. Tor prevents anyone from learning your location, browsing habits, and is an extremely effective tool against network surveillance and traffic analysis. … To get started quickly, please download the Tor Browser Bundle. Using this software wisely and effectively will likely require changing your browsing habits, so be aware of this.’  Also look into VPN (Virtual Private Networks).

‘3. Consider using a private and secure social network like Pidder. ‘  It’s an alternative to Facebook.  You could also create your own blog/website and have it be private password protected.

‘4. Use a firewall and a secure wireless connection. Protecting your inbound and outbound network traffic is essential. There are many free software options available for this. I cannot guarantee the integrity of these programs, but I personally recommend Little Snitch for Mac users. It appears that Outpost may be a good alternative for Windows.’ Also use a an anti-spam/spyware/malware software on your computer. I like to use Malwarebytes Pro not the free version the realtime version along with my anti-virus software. Buy it once per computer for a lifetime. Not a lot to pay for that kind of help.

‘5. Delete your cookies regularly and log out of Facebook when you are not actively using it.’ Clean or setup your computer to drop the cookies when you close out of your browser. You still have to go in once a month and clean the temp files out. It also helps your speed on your computer too!  Signing out of Facebook pages, tabs or out of Skype and other social media is very important as Eliot says in his post ‘Facebook collects all your browsing data and then sells it to third parties, including passing it onto intelligence agencies.’ Most all of the major social medias and connection programs do this so don’t give them the chance!

‘6. Cover up or disconnect your webcam when you are not using it. Did you know that your webcam can be secretly activated without you being aware of it? Hackers and intelligence agencies have the ability to do this, so effective countermeasures must be taken here.’  Ok especially important if your webcam/computer is in the bedroom folks! Remember it isn’t only the intelligence agencies but the hackers as well.  Eliot says ‘The same thing can be done on cellphone cameras/microphones, so be aware of that too. The only way your phone cannot be used to track/record you is if the battery is taken out, which is another reason why many new smartphones come with non-removable batteries these days.’  Make sure your next phone you can disable it…word up to all you iphone users!

‘7. Learn to use secure email services like HushMail or encrypted email.’  Don’t use the services of  Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, those services are not secure and already are compromised. This is important not only for personal but also for business. I’ve used hushmail and it is very easy. The draw back is you have to use it regularly otherwise you lose your email address after 3 weeks of non-use. ‘Or learn how to use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), which is a way to send encrypted email and files that only a trusted third party can open and view.’ as suggested by Eliot in the post.  Read up on PGP where messages can only be decrypted by using your special private key file and the sender’s public key. Eliot suggests to read this tutorial or watch this video to get started. Also check on YouTube.

8. Keep passwords separate and change them often. This is my addition to the list. Do use the same password for all your logins to banking, websites, shopping, and social media.  Make it harder for the intelligence and hackers out there. It isn’t too hard.  Make up a an easy way for you to remember.  See my previous post on passwords.  Also if you ‘have’ to use the same password at least make a change to a add a designator for each instance like xxxxxai for auto insurance vs fbpwxxxxx for your Facebook password. You can come up with a pattern that makes it easy for you to remember.

No matter what, privacy is important! You may need to make adjustments in your online habits but it is for the better. Let me know if you have anything to add to the list! We can post it for others and it will help to keep us all informed.