Sunday, April 28, 2024

Simple Steps To Protect Your On-Line Privacy

By Tim Gamble

The Bad News: Everybody wants your data - the government, corporations, nosy neighbors, social justice warriors, hackers, scammers, and other bad guys. If you are transmitting electronically, your data is available to anyone with the resources and skills to get it. You will never be able to perfectly and completely hide your data.  

The Good News: There are things you can do to make it more difficult for others to get your data. You'll never get 100% protection, but you can get to 95% protection. Here are some useful steps to help you get there:

1) Password protect ALL your devices. This includes your smart phone, your tablet, your laptop, and your desktop, both at work and at home. Sure, passwords can be annoying to use, but devices can get lost or stolen. Use passwords (or facial recognition or thumbprints or whatever). 

2) Keep your operating system and other software up-to-date. Software updates often include security patches to protect against the latest threats. Don't do the updates, and you won't be protected.

3) Secure your browser. Suggestions: turn off third-party cookies, configure for only HTTPS, turn on the Do Not Track setting, use the Privacy Badger extension for Firefox, Chrome, or Opera browsers, use private browsing mode, and keep your browser updated. How to do these things is different for each browser, so if you don't know how just look it up on the web. Instructions for each browser are easy to find. (My favorite privacy browser is Brave.)

4) Use a privacy-respecting search engine. Examples include DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Brave, and Startpage. SwissCows is another good one, and is a family-friendly option that automatically blocks most adult sites. Do not use Google, Bing, or Yahoo. 

5) Don't overshare on social media. This really is the #1 threat to your privacy, and you do it to yourself. Be aware of what you post and how others may use it. Talk to your family members about what to share and not share on social media. Consider what information may be available in the background of your photos (your street address on your mailbox or front door? Your car's license plate? Expensive items in your home?) And for goodness sake, don't check in at every restaurant and other business you visit, thereby making yourself super easy to track (and letting folks know when you are not at home).

6) Be wary of using public Wi-Fi. Anyone could be watching that internet traffic. If you do, avoid using it to send private information such as credit card numbers, and consider using a VPN.

7) Be wary of possible scams. Never give personal or financial information, pin numbers or passwords to any website that you aren't certain is legitimate. Be especially cautious of links in unsolicited emails and text messages (I never click links in text messages or emails, even if I know the company, instead I go to their websites manually.)
Unhumans: The Secret History of Communist Revolutions (and How to Crush Them) is now available for pre-order on Amazon with a "lowest price" guarantee. Donald Trump, Jr. is talking it up on X, and it has been featured on a number of podcasts and video channels. From the Amazon write-up: "If you don’t understand communist revolutions, you aren’t ready for what’s coming."  Unhumans exposes the communist playbook and lays out the tactics of what it takes to fight back and win, using real-world examples.

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