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11 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

11 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

Protecting your privacy online is harder now than ever. Whether it is “Big Brother” or “Big Data,” it seems everyone wants to collect as much data as possible on every human on Earth. We are all being tracked all the time. For some, this may seem like an inevitable fact of digital life. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself online and at the very least become much less of a target for cyber criminals and marauding bands of internet marketers.

1. Lock down your social media.

Most people signup for a Facebook account and just start using it. When someone invites them to play a game or join a group, they just click the button to give those apps authorization to access and use their account information, their list of friends, etc. This data is later used by companies to create network graphs of all of the relationships a person has with others.

Our suggestions:

  • Use privacy controls in your Facebook settings.
  • Pay close attention to which “apps” you give permission to use your information.
  • Read through the many settings and options. It is worth taking 10 minutes to read each one on Facebook.
  • Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIN and others all have privacy and security settings. Take advantage of them.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.22 AM

    2. Use a secure browser.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft has consistently shown that it is a favorite target of hackers. Use an alternative browser to Internet Explorer. Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome are all better choices. Whichever browser you are using, also look into its security menu, extensions and privacy (in Safari) and set the security choices you are comfortable with.

    Our suggestions:

    • Block pop-up windows by default.
    • Warn when visiting fraudulent websites.
    • Block cookies and website data from third parties and advertisers.
    • “Do Not Track” should be selected.

    Remember, this will NOT protect you from all of the techniques that are used to track you with a web browser, but it is MUCH better than letting even the sloppiest of advertisers and companies track your every move.

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    3. Protect the data on your mobile phone.

    If you want full protection, choose an iPhone from Apple. 99% of all mobile malware is on the Android platform. 92% of all Android phones are susceptible to known attacks. The Apps marketplaces for Android are wide open and filled with malware, spyware and viruses. Apple has been criticized for being very strict in their review and quality control of Apps that are allowed to be installed on an iPhone, but this has created the safest mobile environment that exists.

    Additionally, Apple just announced even more privacy features in iOS 8 due out this fall. This includes a security tool that stops Apps from tracking your GPS location unless you are actively using the App. Their iMessages App is extremely secure. Even the NSA doesn’t like it. Also, they have deployed the first, highly reliable, and very secure biometric thumbprint scanner. This last week they also announced they would allow developers to start implementing using your thumbprint for authentication of various secure logins and more.

    4. Be cautious of the word “FREE” in software, apps, and services.

    Like your momma told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. People have clamored to get their hands on many “free” online tools and services without asking a simple question, “If this is ‘free,’ how do they pay for all the people and computers that make this service work?” The answer is that they are most likely selling YOU. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to easily tell which apps are tracking everything you do on your mobile device or computer. The best advice is to delete apps you don’t really use regularly and ALWAYS read the warnings that ask for your permission to let the software do something.

    Recently, Google and Facebook both added features to let them use your microphone and camera on your computer or mobile device. While they could use your mic and camera for only legitimate reasons, consider turning off their access when you don’t absolutely need those apps to have it. For example, you can easily allows/disallow access to your “Location Services” on an iPhone or iPad, quickly turning it on for the Maps app when you need directions.

    Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.15 AM

      5. Develop a password strategy.

      Passwords have become a pain in the butt for many people. Forgetting a password when you need to get into something is a serious inconvenience, especially when so many different password policies exist. One simple solution is to come up with a PHRASE instead of a word or character string. Instead of “Bobby1989” try using “Bobby was born in 1989!” These will often be easier to remember and much harder to crack. Note that it even uses a special character “!”, upper case letters, lower case letters and numbers.

      An additional strategy is to develop some system for using a slightly different variation of your main password on every site you use it on. For example, you could use the same phrase, “Bobby was born in 1989!” on Hotmail.com and count the number of characters in the website domain name (7) and choose the first and last letters of the name (HL) and append that to your phrase “Bobby was born in 1989!7HL” On Chase.com that would be “Bobby was born in 1989!5CE”.

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      An attacker would need to gain access to several of your different passwords to figure out what additional pattern you use to change it from site to site.

      A tool to check the strength of your passwords is at: http://www.passwordmeter.com

      6. Change your IP address with a tool like ICLOAK™ Stik.

      ICLOAK Stik is a USB device that renders your web browsing sessions invisible to everyone on the Internet. The same device also automatically spoofs your Machine Address Code (MAC) of the computer you are using ICLOAK on so that it doesn’t broadcast this identifier to every website you visit. You can learn more at https://icloak.org

      7. Use a VPN service to connect to the Internet.

      A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can encrypt all of your web traffic from your computer to the destination site making it very unlikely for anyone to intercept your information as it will all be encrypted as soon as it leaves your browser. There are many VPN services available at a nominal cost to use them.

      8. Learn about and use Crypto Currency, like Bitcoin.

      Although Bitcoin is still a young technology, it has the potential to really allow individuals to make anonymous purchases online. Every time you use a credit card, there is a digital footprint made by that transaction. With crypto-currencies, they can be used anonymously.

      Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.02 AM

        9. Encrypt your email and files that you send across the Internet with GnuPG.

        GnuPG is the GNU project’s complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard. You can find more information including free software tools here: https://www.gnupg.org/related_software/frontends.html

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        10. Pay in cash more often.

        We have all become accustomed to the convenience of paying with plastic. However, this is becoming more and more dangerous as card thieves have discovered ingenious ways to get and use your cards. Alternatively, use the features provided by some major banks that will issue temporary, unique Credit Card numbers for a single online transaction. At Chase they are called Single Use Accounts.

        You can learn more here:

        Chase Bank

        https://www.chase.com/commercial-bank/treasury-management/single-use-accounts

        Bank of America

        https://www.bankofamerica.com/privacy/accounts-cards/shopsafe.go

        Citi

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        https://www.citibank.com/us/cards/gen-content/messages/van/index.htm

        11. Keep your antivirus software updated.

        The Internet’s viruses are similar to real viruses in that they are always changing and adapting. The best thing that you can do to prevent an attack on your computer is to keep your antivirus software updated. There are several free antivirus solutions available; however, the one I have found most recommended by IT pro’s like Eric B. Delisle is the antivirus solution produced by Kaspersky Labs. You can find more about them at: http://usa.kaspersky.com

         

        As a final note, there are passionate people working every day to guard against ever encroaching government and business interests into our personal lives. However, their jobs are made harder by ordinary people who are just too lazy to bother doing even the simplest things to keep themselves safe. Don’t be an easy victim of anyone who would ignore your right to your own data and your own privacy by ignoring these great tips. Instead, commit to giving yourself 30 minutes each day for a week to implement some of these suggestions and at the end of one week, you will be infinitely safer.

        It is a known fact that by simply placing a FAKE “This property is protected by a monitored alarm system” sticker on your window or one of those Brinks signs in your yard, that the average, neighborhood burglar will simply skip your house and go to your neighbor who didn’t bother to do something so simple as put a sticker on their window.

        You have been warned. Good luck.

        Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on August 16, 2019

        10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

        10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

        The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

        Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

        Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

        In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

        1. Cal Calendar

          Cal Calendar has recently appeared on the market of mobile applications (Android, iOS). It is the brainchild of the development team of Any.do that features impressive functionality and well-thought-out design.

          The application comes with many great features, including support for Exchange and Google Calendar, widgets, voice recording, and many more.

          Cal Calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

          Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

          What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

          Cal Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

          Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

          Available for iOS and Android

          2. Google Calendar

            Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

            Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

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            Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

            The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

            Available for iOS and Android

            3. Jorte Calendar

              Jorte Calendar is one of the most popular calendar applications in the Google Play store.

              The program features a wide range of configuration options, with many design alternatives. You can adjust display mode to your needs and view calendar entries sorted by month, week, or day (by hours). It is convenient for quickly picking the desired date, using task bars, and setting reminders.

              Apart from its ordinary information storing function, this application can be a special cloud service, Jorte Cloud, allowing you to synchronize calendars, schedules, and task lists on multiple devices. The application also supports data importing from Google Calendar.

              For those paying attention to the program design, there is also Jorte Store, where you can buy styles and icons to personalize the calendar. This feature makes Jorte is one of the brightest calendar applications.

              A basic version of the app is free of charge, so if you do not want to spend money on a calendar application, it is a good option.

              Available for iOS and Android

              4. Business Calendar

                Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

                The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

                You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

                The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

                Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

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                Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

                Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

                A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

                Available for Android

                5. aCalendar

                  aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

                  Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

                  Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

                  When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

                  Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

                  The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

                  The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

                  Available for Android

                  6. DigiCal Calendar

                    DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                    With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

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                    Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                    The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                    Available for Android

                    7. SolCalendar

                      SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

                      The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                      Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                      Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                      Available for Android

                      8. Calendar

                        Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

                        A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

                        Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

                        Available for Desktop, iOS and Android

                        9. Today Calendar

                          Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

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                          The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                          If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                          Available for Android

                          10. Calendar Widget: Month

                            Sometimes people do not need a heap of calendar applications. They would prefer to have one efficient calendar widget.

                            Calendar Widget: Month perfectly fills this niche and meets all the needs of a modern user. It has some features of an ordinary calendar, but the real great thing about this software is that it has 80 or more themes in its library.

                            The design of the application is great; the themes are perfectly tuned. There are options for almost any theme of your smartphone. The only drawback is the fact that the widget memory is not too large, and you should be ready for it.

                            This simple calendar widget was created in the image and semblance of widgets from Yahoo. The widget window displays one calendar month with the ability to go to the previous and move to the next one.

                            If you need a simple and affordable calendar to plan your tasks and affairs for one month, this widget is ideal for you. Calendar Widget: Month is so simple that it does not even have Google Calendar support.

                            At the moment, it does not have the function of connecting any third-party calendars and services. Developers allow the possibility of introducing support for Google service as an addition to the widget, if users request to have this opportunity.

                            Available for Android

                            Our Verdict

                            Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                            Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                            Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                            The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

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                            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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