Thanks to the NSA Scandal with Edward Snowden, people are now more concerned with the privacy of their digital communications than every before. It was Snowden that made shockwaves worldwide when he blew the whistle and leaked the mega story “The NSA is Spying on YOU” earlier this year.
Well, there are two main camps really, those who shrugged it off as, “ah, no biggy”; and those who are now taking a long and hard look at how well their data is being protected.
Just in case you’re in the first group and are “just curious”, here are the 6 best ways to compute in privacy.
#1 – Password Privacy
The easiest way to get your data stolen is to use a weak password.
Most people are not aware that most “hackers” crack into systems using a technique called social engineering .
They don’t always crack into your account with sophisticated high powered computers; many times they just simply put two and two together and try a few different password combinations using information they have about you. This is why writing your password on a note under your keyboard is a bad idea.
Password Privacy Do’s:
- Keep it simple. Use a password that you can remember.
There’s no point in having a password that you can’t recall when you need it most. Keep it simple, don’t make it too hard.
- Use a song, part of a quote, a popular movie line, or phrase as a base.
For example, “We don’t need no stinking badges.” Can become WDNNSB if you use the first letter of each word. Add to this your favorite special characters and a few numbers like your birth year and now you have a strong password, ex: WDNNSB@1971!.
Password Privacy Don’ts:
- Use a password management software.
The whole point of a PRIVATE password is that only YOU have it, if you store it in some management system, guess what? Someone else has access to it too. Instead of taking this risk, just type them in clear text in a text document somewhere in a way that only YOU can understand or interpret. Example %myfavmovieline%@yearoftheMAN!
- Use the same password.
Instead figure out an identification system to add to your password on each site that you use. For example BOA_WDNNSB@1971! Or WDNNSB@1971!boa for your Bank of America account and WDNNSB@1971!wells or WF-WDNNSB@1971! For your Wells Fargo account.
Also don’t forget to alternate the text capitalization as this adds further complexity to your password. You can capitalize the first letter only, or the last letter only, or only the first two letters, whatever it is just remember to keep it consistent and easy for you to remember.
#2 – Search privacy
Unfortunately Google, Yahoo, and Bing have all admitted to storing and sharing your data with “others”. This can put you in a predicament when you just want to keep your private communications private.
Here are the top 8 search engines that do not store information such as when you search and what you’re searching:
If you still want to use Google but you don’t want them to know what YOU search then you should try this:
- Hide your IP address.
Use software tools like Easy-Hide-Ip and Quick Hide IP Platinum. This is needed because your IP address acts almost like your social security number online. With this info your ISP, people you email, and websites you visit can easily figure out specifically WHO you are.
- Make sure you’re not logged in to Google.
Try using Google Chrome in “incognito mode”.
Open Chrome, click the options/settings button and select New incognito window:
A new window will appear with a notification message:
- Go to encrypted.google.com
This will help prevent “others” from seeing what you search for Google such as your ISP, that is whoever is providing you an internet connection. Also, if you’re not logged in to Google then they won’t have an account to link to your searches.
*Remember, this helps dramatically but it’s still not a 100% private.
#3 – Email Privacy
Email privacy is now becoming increasingly more important as over and over again judges have held that emails are in fact PUBLIC information.
Although this may sound shocking it is the reality that we live in today. This effectively means that someone can obtain your email through nefarious means and then claim that is okay for them to have it because it’s public.
If you want your emails to be read only by the person that you send them to here are your options:
- Outlook email encryption 
- McAfee SaaS Email Encryption 
I’ll have more of these tips in part 2 of How to Compute in Privacy.
~ Darnell Jackson