We are living in an era where we store personal and private information digitally on our smartphones, laptops and on “the cloud”. Malicious entities, and even government entities are always looking for ways to get to that information. You need to take extra steps to ensure your life stays private. Here are some measures you can take to help ensure that:
Use encryption everywhere
Encrypt data on your computer’s hard drive by using file encryption programs, such as Truecrypt. Modern operating systems these days come with built-in filesystem encryption, however, you will most likely need to enable it manually. Use a secure passwords to unlock the file system and be sure to lock the file system whenever you’re not using it. Be careful not to forget the password because these passwords are unrecoverable due to obvious security reasons.
Use different passwords everywhere
Do not use the same password for each website you log into. It is a very bad idea to use the same Facebook password as your online banking password. You can use password management programs, such as 1Password, to securely keep track of your passwords.
Use 2-Factor Authentication if available
2-Factor authentication requires a two-step process (hence its name) to authenticate a user. It usually involves entering a password and a code that changes every 30-60 seconds. Google apps, such as gmail, allow 2-Factor authentication as well many other sites involving a username/password. This prevents others from brute-force guessing your login information, which is becoming easier as computing becomes more powerful.
Encrypt Your chat
Many popular chat platforms such as GTalk and Yahoo Messenger are centralized, meaning, whatever you chat about, is stored on some server. If you’re truly paranoid, use Cryptocat. It does encryption on the client side, so not even the Cryptocat network can see your chats if even it wanted to.
Use HTTPS in the web browser
Before you login or submit any sensitive material via your web browser, check to see that the URL starts with https:// and not just http://. Https:// means that data that your browser sends and receives are encrypted over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Otherwise the data is completely visible to whoever is snooping your network.
Avoid Clicking on suspicious links or emails
By clicking on the wrong link or opening the wrong email, malware may be installed on your computer. If malware happens to get on to your computer, any of the above steps will be moot. Frequently scan your computer for viruses and malware. If you can afford it, dedicate one computer with a sole purpose of storing and accessing sensitive data.