5 easy and simple ways to protect your privacy online — how to prepare for the next big threat
If there’s one thing everyone wants to protect it’s their privacy and information online.
But while we think we know what we are doing, using filters, incognito browsers and deleting our history, you might not be protecting yourself as much as you think.
Leading privacy advocate and founder of MeWe.com Mark Weinstein knows more than most.
While millions of people are taking to ad blockers, that doesn’t solve the underlying and relentless tracking that we are all subject to.
Taking these simple actions can strongly enhance your privacy.
1. Surf the Internet with safe browsers
All browsers are not created equal.
For starters, look into your browser’s privacy settings and increase them where possible.
Also, be aware that certain browsers such as Google Chrome for example, tie back into the entire Google ecosystem to build a deeper footprint.
Personally, I recommend browsers such as the Tor browser, that wipe your tracks clean when you’re online.
The less history you have, the more freedom of choice and privacy you receive.
2. Be careful where you search
At Google, the searches you conduct are used to build a data history/packet of information about you, which is then used for many things, including the likelihood that it is shared or may be shared in the future with other companies, governments, etc.
Of course it feeds their data and targeted marketing efforts.
Alternatively, DuckDuckGo doesn’t keep your search history or create a data packet about you.
While newer European regulations are intended to protect us better from this data whale, in fact Google is fighting and attempting to subvert these regulations.
3. WhatsApp is not as private as you think
For hundreds of millions of people, WhatsApp is their go-to app for truly private, encrypted chat conversations.
Ah, if only WhatsApp was as private as they’ve promised.
First the good news — WhatsApp now has world-leading encryption, the very best currently available, and is quite unlikely to be hacked.
Now the reality check — get off WhatsApp!
What does this mean to you? It means that Facebook is tracking and storing data on who you are talking to, along with when you are talking to them, and where you are when you are posting.
They also use this data to target ads to you when you are on other sites.
Facebook’s new experiment with encrypted chat at Facebook Messenger suffers the same fate.
Where can you turn? I founded MeWe, and there’s also CyberDust. Both are much better at protecting your privacy, not tracking you, and both offer encrypted chat without algorithmic tracking/targeting/data packeting.
4. Use encrypted cloud storage
There are countless cloud storage providers out there, however what you want are ones that can’t see your information.
SpiderOak for example, encrypts your files on your device and then uploads them to its datacenter.
That means you’re sending an encrypted copy of your files that SpiderOak can’t decrypt in the first place.
Edward Snowden recommends SpiderOak by the way…
5. Social Networking is changing
Facebook has never hidden the fact that they believe in a vastly open world and open information sharing across and within borders.
Sadly that powerful vision always included continuous privacy infractions and content manipulation along with incessant targeted advertisement strategies.
Social media is undergoing a significant transformation with Pew Research now identifying millennials as the demographic most concerned about their online privacy.
New social network companies are at banging at the foot of Facebook’s mountain, offering better communication tech along with respect and privacy too.
What’s the next big threat to privacy?
Governments around the world are demanding backdoor access into apps and devices and this is a big threat to privacy globally and locally.
A lot is at risk here.
Backdoors are not just about surveillance; they also enable hackers to steal your data directly and steal data from companies, banks, etc.
The argument for giving governments such power in order to protect us against terrorism also naively assumes that the government or leaders will only use these doors for individual instances of national safety.
And there’s a big difference between giving a backdoor to Germany versus North Korea, and unfortunately governments are not always the good guys.
Weighing the pros and cons, I understand Tim Cook and Apple’s continuing insistence that while a back door may sound good in theory, in reality it doesn’t.
Hackers around the world will be attempting to crack the code on the back door.
This is an evolving conversation and let’s keep in mind that technology is constantly changing and there may come better ways to track and identify people who are dangerous without compromising the privacy protections of encryption.