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Simple Steps to Consider for Privacy

(article originally appeared on February 28, 2019)

Roseville, Calif. – In the age of artificial intelligence, the Internet and surveillance of all kinds, the challenges to retaining some level of privacy can seem daunting. However, there are some basic steps you can take to limit data collection and tracking by implementing a few layers of security and privacy.

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Surprisingly, and much out of necessity, Internet users in repressive countries often a have a far better grasp of security and privacy practices than their U.S. counterparts.

5 Tips for Privacy and Security

1- VPN: Virtual Private Networks

A critical component for all users, a VPN done right encrypts your traffic and reroutes it through a network of servers to limit companies and ISP’s ability to track you.

Consider choosing a VPN that retains no logs, has a proven track record and doesn’t require any personal info for logging in.

Price: Inexpensive
Setup: Easy
Value: Encrypts data over the Internet adding an essential layer of privacy
Connect from countries and cities around the globe

Cons: Many government sites and large corporations don’t appreciate your privacy and actively work to block access coming from VPN’s.
Regular sites you visit may prompt with 2-factor authentication as they can no longer easily identify you.

The privacy gains far outstrip the minor inconveniences.

2- Alternative Web Browsers

The most popular web browsers are built by companies who are in the business of profiting from collecting, sharing or selling your data and habits. Consider these alternatives.

Firefox: Always ranking near the top, Firefox is super fast and works as well, if not better than any browser on the market. It’s free and widely considered more secure.

Brave: As far as browsers go, it’s a relative newcomer on the scene with a focus on privacy. Built in Shields Up component helps block ads, traffic trackers, 3rd party cookies, scripts while forcing encrypted connections. A solid choice.

TOR: Not the most convenient, but helps encrypt, reroute and doesn’t keep a history of your activities.

3- Search Engines

The granddaddy of personal data collection. Well known companies collecting vast swaths of your personal info for an assortment of uses.

Consider an Alternative: DuckDuckGo. What’s not to love about a policy of not tracking or collecting any personal information when you search.

Pros: One of the easiest methods to limit personal data collection.

Cons: While not as comprehensive as other search behemoths, you may find it works perfectly for the majority of your search needs.

4- SuperCookies You Can’t Delete

Many people believe deleting your browsing cookies protects and hides their browsing history. It doesn’t always do much. SuperCookies, aren’t really cookies, but are employed at the ISP level and tied to your machine ID. You can’t delete them and ISP’s that employ them can easily track ALL your online activities. A solid VPN can obliterate their ability to do so.

5- Encrypt Your Data

This used to be a much more complex process. Over time, utilities have greatly improved and encryption utilities often ship with newer hard drives. Other downloadable encryption programs can help guide you through the process. On phones, the process can be as easy as a few clicks.

If your computer or phone is stolen or compromised, it’s data is inaccessible to the perpetrator. Always be sure to backup your data and test your ability to restore.

TIP: Clone your entire system regularly and store encrypted backups in a safe deposit box.

Your Privacy

Your privacy is under constant siege. When it comes to personal data, many corporations and other entities have a long tradition of questionable practices. They often rely, depend and profit on our ignorance or willingness to trade privacy for convenience. A few simple steps you can employ in your digital life, can slow or prohibit part of that process.

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