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15 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now

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By: Fiest Kazama

August 17, 2015

15 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now - CybraryThis a short post about what you can do to protect your privacy in today's world. Though nothing is 100% safe and as long as people are using technology, their privacy can be threatened. Yet, without technology - life's just no good. 1. Stop Using GOOGLE and FACEBOOKThey are collecting mountains of data on you, selling it to advertisers and loaning it to government agencies. Seriously, limit or stop all use of these services. Instead of using Google search I’d suggest checking out, a free software project that doesn’t profile or track its users search queries. 2. Use FIREFOXThere’s not much choice between browsers, but Firefox is the most open in the main gang. It is open source, which is a plus, and it's not owned by a giant corp that’s part of the PRISM surveillance program like Apple (Safari) and Google (Chrome). 3. Get a Few Browser EXTENSIONSThere are various ways you're tracked on the internet, including the browser version you use, your OS, the fonts on your system, your browsing patterns, as well as things like JavaScript and other plugins. Here are a few Firefox extensions that will, hopefully, mitigate some of that:
  • NOSCRIPT. This is a free and open source extension that blocks JavaScript, fonts and other plugins from loading automatically. As the name indicates, there are no scripts allowed by default and you can change settings on a page by page basis.
  • Ghostery. Free but proprietary. Wikipedia describes it as enabling “its users to easily detect and control web bugs which are objects embedded in a web page, invisible to the user, that allow the collection of data on the user’s browsing habits.” This means it stops the various servers owned by large corps such as Google, Facebook, Twitter from automatically tracking when you visit a website with their embedded code in it.
  • HTTPS Everywhere. From Wikipedia “HTTPS Everywhere is a free web browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, a collaboration by The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Its purpose is to automatically make websites use the more secure HTTPS connection instead of HTTP.”
  • AdBlock Plus. This is another free and open source extension similar to Ghostery, but aimed at automatically blocking ads. Apart from being useful to stop annoying intrusions, it blocks ad servers from tracking you.
 4. Remove your INTERNAL WiFi CARD and Replace it with a REMOVABLE ONEThis simply allows you to have physical control over when you want to be connected to the Internet. If your system is compromised, even if it appears that your computer is not connected, it could still be sending packets. Being able to pull the plug at a moments notice is valuable. 5. Install a Software FIREWALLThis will simply allow you to decide what connects in and out of your system. There are a ton out there, so have a look for yourself. One thing to note is if you torrent a firewall app, there’s a chance it could compromise your entire system. It’s probably best to be legit here. You'll be amazed at the amount of apps which constantly try to "phone home" to their servers. 6. Don't install RANDOM SoftwareThis item is linked to a point in the above section about torrenting software. I’m not going to tell you what to do in regards to torrenting, but be aware when you’re downloading and installing random software, there’s a chance it’s either completely backdoored or contains some level of spyware. If you don’t NEED it, go without. 7. Use OFF-THE-RECORD(OTR) Chat EncryptionFind out whether the chat apps you use have OTR compatibility, and if so turn it on. This enables end to end encryption between you and to whomever you’re talking, so passive snooping cannot take place. 8. Turn OFF Your Computer When Not in UseWhen you’re not using your computer, turn it off completely (and remove that new external WiFi card). Aside from being better for security (in terms of getting passwords from RAM), you can guarantee no apps will secretly be "phoning home." 9. Learn About PGP/GPG for Email and Use itPGP (pretty good privacy) for email allows you to send and receive encrypted emails. You need to generate your own public key signature and share it with your friends. The catch is that they need to do the same (which can be frustrating). Be aware that your email content is the only thing encrypted, and anyone looking in will still be able to see other meta data. 10. Get a PASSWORD ManagerPassword managers are great for generating and storing long complicated passwords so you don’t have to memorize them all. The idea is that you can generate a brand new password for every single service or account you use, compartmentalizing any risk, so if one of those services is breached, everything else you use isn’t automatically too. Make sure that you have a strong, memorable master password. 11. Encrypt Important FILESIf your system is ever lost, compromised or stolen, it’ll be more likely that your files will remain untouched if they're encrypted. Same goes for sending important files over the Internet. Think about sending them as encrypted files. Also, look into full disk encryption for your computer. There are plenty of tutorials online to suit your particular set up. 12. COVER Your WebcamThis used to be the reserve of hyper paranoid individuals, but the Snowden revelations (and others) have shown that there are many operations secretly recording peoples webcam feeds. Yes, even ordinary people like you with "nothing to hide." 13. Remove your Laptops Internal MICROPHONEThis may seem a little paranoid, but if you don’t ever use it, you may as well get rid of it. There is still a chance that your microphone is being listened in on. It’s another way of mitigating the data that can be collected on you. You can always plug in headphones with a built-in mic when you need one. 14. Try BITMESSAGEIf you're working on sensitive material, you might consider using the Tor browser bundle. It automatically obfuscates your IP address and provides a decent level of protection. There are some theories that it may have been broken, but they haven’t been proven (yet), so be aware. 15. Use MULTIHOP VPNA VPN or virtual private network encrypts your network data through a server (or servers) and makes web requests on your behalf. This means when you visit websites, your IP address will appear as wherever the VPN’s server is making the request from. They’re good for stopping automatic ISP snooping, but they are not a magic bullet. Remember you are placing your trust in the VPN service and some may not deserve it. Bonus Point: Stop Using your PHONESeriously. This is not something most people would be willing to do but if you really care about your privacy, you should ditch the phone (aka George Orwell’s worst nightmare). Think about it, this thing tracks your location in realtime, your movement habits, it knows who you are in contact with, it knows the exact relationship with each person and what you say to them. It knows what apps you use, what you browse for, how you browse, what you buy, what you don’t buy, what people in your life look like and their location (with photos and geo tagging).I mean for god sake that’s insane. Phones are much less configurable than computers so you have even less control of your data. If you’re not willing to do that, then at least remove the battery from your phone (if you can), when you’re not using it. Thanks and be safe! 
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