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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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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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