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Learning to practice effective cybersecurity habits is more involved than ticking off a quick checklist—install this app on your phone, install this plugin on your laptop, and boom, your information is encrypted!
In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While it’s impossible to be completely safe online, you can always be safer.
Here are a few safe tips to help keep you safe online:
- Use a more secure alternative than Google
When you use Google products, you’re not the customer—you are the product.” Google watches everything you do using their services, keeps all your data, and monetizes it through advertising.
- Don’t leave a digital breadcrumb trail
If you want to keep your information private, don’t put it online unless you have to. This one seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of people are cavalier about the stuff they text, email, and record digitally. Besides your data being collected and tracked, the receiver of any communication you send can distribute those communications however they please.
- Change to a secure messaging system
The most popular encrypted messaging app is Signal. But please be aware that the only way to get end-to-end encryption is if both parties in communication use encrypted services. So if you are using Signal, it serves as a perfectly fine messaging system. But if you want totally encrypted messages, then both sender & receiver my be using the same app.
- Surf the web safely
Use a search engine that doesn’t track you, like DuckDuckGo. And the Tor browser protects your anonymity by bouncing your communications through a distributed network of Tor servers around the world, and encrypting that traffic so that it can’t be traced back to your computer. Simply using the ‘private browsing’ feature of your browser won’t cut it. That feature only hides your activities from other users of the same computer, not others outside of your home network.
- If you go to a protest, leave your phone at home
Depending on the nature of the protest, demonstrators’ phones might be surveilled by local police with stingray tracking devices, or even the FBI. US federal agencies have regularly monitored protest movements since the Black Lives Matter disruptions.
Even attending large events like a Mardi Gras or 4th of July parade could get you watched and tracked. And if you get arrested and your phone is confiscated, then your personal data will be taken by the authorities…. You don’t want that.
- Get serious about your passwords
OK, do we really need to continue discussing this???
- Be very careful about what you post on social media
The information you’re providing about yourself on social media profiles could become a liability. Your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube could become a form of self-incrimination, even if you haven’t committed a crime. Government and business’ persistent monitoring and targeting of people on social media platforms has been called the new stop-and-frisk, which warrants caution about even jokingly posting some comments online.
- Why worry if you have nothing to hide?
Some people still assume that if they’re a law-abiding citizen, they have nothing to hide and therefore don’t need encryption. But history suggests that’s naive. The more people adopt privacy practices, the safer everyone is. It’s partly a future-proofing strategy.
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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