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Secure Your Internet Privacy With This Guide

Secure Your Internet Privacy With This Guide

There’s a lot of talk these days about internet privacy and online security. With over two billion people accessing the internet on a regular basis, it’s about time you started protecting yourself! So, I figured I’d put together a little guide to some of the most popular security precautions and privacy measures available to you online. In this easy-to-follow guide I’ll show you how to make your internet life more secure, starting right now.

Two-Factor Authentication

What it is: Two-factor authentication is available with a large number of popular sites and services. In a nutshell, it’s a simple feature that prompts you for a password and then a short security code that is sent to your phone. Here’s an example: If you’re logging into your Gmail account you’d need to type in your username and password—then you’d be logged in. With two-factor authentication, you’d need to wait for Google to send you a text message with a short code, and then type that in before you could access your account on a new machine.

Here’s a guide on how to setup two-factor authentication for Facebook. Here’s one for Twitter.

Time to set up: About 15 minutes

Additional info: I know what you’re thinking: “This is way more annoying than it should be!” Truth be told, after you’ve set up your device and configured two-factor authentication with the online services you use, it takes just an extra 15-20 seconds to login and everything else works in the background.

Security rating: Two-factor authentication is incredibly secure because it requires at least two devices to get into your account (your phone and your laptop). It’s obviously still possible for someone to get into your account, but it’s less likely due to the extra security layer. Passwords follow us all over the internet and everyone can benefit from the extra security available by implementing two-factor authentication on your web accounts.

Encrypt Your Email

What it is: This is easy to do and understand. Encrypting your email is nothing more than turning your emails into gibberish code that can only be deciphered with a key. You can then send this coded email to your recipient, who can only read it if they have the same key.

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If you’re a Gmail user, Mailvelope is the best way to encrypt your emails. It’s a Chrome and Firefox extension that is quick and easy to set up.

Time to set up: About 5 minutes

Additional info: Something you should know about email encryption is that it doesn’t work unless you and your recipient both have the encryption software. That’s because when you send someone an encrypted email, they can’t read it unless they’re able to decrypt it with the key at their end.

In general, it’s not worth the hassle to encrypt your email unless you’re sending sensitive information. If you need to send someone a social security number, bank account details or credit card information, you’ll want to encrypt those emails.

Security rating: Email encryption is, for the most part, a safe and secure way to communicate. This will not keep you safe from government/NSA snooping, but it will protect you from people hacking and reading your email.

For non-web-based email encryption you should look into the Enigmail Project.

Set Up A Password Manager

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM0fzHxMASQ

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What it is: A password manager does pretty much what you’d think it would do: manage your passwords. Basically, it locks all of your website passwords behind a single master password that only you know. This is awesome because it means you only have to remember a single password.

Time to set up: 30 minutes

Additional info: There are a good number of password managers available online. Personally, I recommend LastPass, which can be a bit confusing to new users but it works well. Signing up for a password is only half that battle. You’ll then have to go back into all of your accounts and set new passwords, which can be time consuming. Also, it’s important to note that if you use multiple computers, you’ll need to install the password manager on all your systems. It would be terrible to end up locking yourself out of all of those online services and accounts you use.

Security rating: Password managers like LastPass are very secure but still require strong passwords. The good news is that you can make your account passwords as strong as you’d like without having to remember them all. If you’re willing to go through the setup, I highly recommend you start using a password manager.

Hide Your Browsing Activity

What it is: If you haven’t heard about everything going on with the NSA watching our every move online, you’re living under a rock! But it’s not just the NSA you have to worry about. Advertisers and even your ISP are watching what you do online. Hiding your browsing activity ensures that no one else can see what you’re doing online. There’s an easy to install browser extension called Disconnect that works relatively well.

Time to set up: 5 minutes

Security rating: Browser extensions are good but they don’t mask everything, so if you want true security you should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

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Encrypt Your Online Conversation

What it is: Much like you’d want to encrypt sensitive data within emails, it’s also a good idea to encrypt your chat conversations, especially when sharing sensitive information with friends online. Thanks to an encryption feature called “Off-the-Record Messaging” you can rest assured knowing your chat conversations are secure.

Time to set up: About 1 minute.

Additional info: If you’re a Windows user you’ll want to use the chat applet called Pidgin. If you’re a Mac OSX user you’ll want to use Adium. If you’re not currently using these services you should consider starting now. Basically, these allow you to IM all your friends across all the various chat networks in one place.

“Off-the-Record Messaging” is built into Adium. Turning it on takes just a few mouse clicks.

    Pidgin users will want to follow this easy guide to setup enable encrypted chatting.

    Security rating: To actually have an encrypted chat conversation the person your chatting with will also need Adium or Pidgin installed, but that’s not terribly difficult to have someone do. In general, off-the-record chatting is super secure and is very difficult to crack.

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    Encrypt And Secure Your Backups

    What it is: These days we’re storing a lot of information in the cloud, and if you’rie using services like Dropbox, ZipCloud, or CrashPlan, you’ll want to make sure that your personal data is private and secure.

    Time to set up: About 15 minutes.

    Additional info: Encryption for these services is relatively easy to set up. If you’re using CrashPlan this can be done automatically for you. If you’re using a service like Dropbox you should use a service like SafeMonk, which encrypts your files before you upload them. If you’re like me and don’t have a ton of data that you need to encrypt (I have some medical, financial, and insurance files) you can use TrueCrypt. The downside to TrueCrypt is that once you’ve encrypted your files, you’re not able to access them from other computers.

    Security rating: In general, you’ll be very secure with these forms of backup security, but you could also switch from unsecured cloud hosting services, like Dropbox, to companies like Tresorit and SpiderOak. If you’re storing a lot of sensitive information in the cloud you may want to consider switching to one of these more secure services.

    Conclusion

    Spend a few extra hours protecting yourself online. After the initial legwork, your information will be substantially more secure. It’s well worth the effort, so invest the time and protect yourself before it’s too late.

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    Published on September 20, 2018

    11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

    11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

    In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

    Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

    In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

    Minimizing Tabs

    Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

    Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

    Incognito Mode

    Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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    1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
    2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
    3. Download extension New Incognito Window

    This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

    Save Webpages as PDF Files

    Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

    Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

    Open Recently-closed Tabs

    Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

    One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

    The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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    Solve Mathematical Problems

    Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

    For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

    Play Media Files

    Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

    In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

    Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

    With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

    Stay Focus(e)d

    Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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    Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

    With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

    This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

    Grammarly for Editing

    Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

    You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

    Loom

    There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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    There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

    With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

    Chrome Calendar Extension

    No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

    Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

    Final Thoughts

    Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

    Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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