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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 25, 2020

    10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

    10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

    When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

    VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

    How to Choose a VPN

    • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
    • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
    • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
    • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
    • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

    Why You Should Trust Us

    Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

    Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

    1. NordVPN

    The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

    Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

    NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

    In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

    NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

    Buy this VPN.

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    2. ExpressVPN

    ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

    Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

    Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

    Buy this VPN.

    3. Surf Shark

    With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

    Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

    The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

    Buy this VPN.

    4. CyberGhost

    Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

    The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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    What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

    Buy this VPN.

    5. IPVanish

    IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

    IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

    Buy this VPN.

    6. Private Internet Access

    Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

    One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

    In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

    These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

    Buy this VPN.

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    7. Hotspot Shield

    Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

    Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

    Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

    Buy this VPN.

    8. TunnelBear

    As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

    The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

    Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

    Buy this VPN.

    9. Norton

    Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

    As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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    Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

    Buy this VPN.

    10. StrongVPN

    The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

    StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

    As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

    Buy this VPN.

    Bottom Line

    Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

    With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

    We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

    Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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