With the rash of revelations about mass spying by the US NSA, rampant accusations of Chinese snooping, major security breaches worldwide and the rise of cyber crime, millions of internet users worldwide face that creepy feeling that somebody, somewhere is keeping an eye on them.
With every digital move you make, you leave bits of information that can be used by businesses, strangers, advertisers, cyber-thieves and, of course, professional intelligence agencies â€“ not to mention ex-spouses, future employers and present competitors.
Browser extensions. New browsers have sprung up to help users navigate the web anonymously and bypass internet censorship or geo-restricted sites otherwise blocked by local internet providers. These tools bounce your Internet traffic to hide your computer location (IP address). To make tracking someoneâ€™s identity almost impossible, the service functions through randomly selected relays, run by volunteers from all over the world. Popular options include Tor and HideMyAss.com.
But there are also downsides. If the traffic is not secured between the exit node and the target server, the exit relays can inspect your data as it passes through. In Tor, some plugins, such as Flash, RealTime and QuickTime, as well as YouTube content, are blocked since they reveal a computerâ€™s IP address by default. Users are also discouraged to use torrents and downloaded files.
Anti-tracking and anti-cookie extensions. A necessary measure against third-party tracking from sites including social widgets from Facebook, Google and Twitter. Most available add-ons include a menu where users can monitor and disable plugin-ins and scripts running on a specific website to collect personal data about usersâ€™ browsing habits. Some extensions can safeguard you from widget jacking, where an attacker uses stolen cookies to access your personal data without needing to know your password, with its Secure Wi-Fi feature. Some alternatives: Disconnect, Ghostery, Do Not Track Me.
Anonymous emailing. Very useful when it comes to stopping spam , this service allows you to hide your real email address behind a disposable, self-destructible or temporary alias. Some of these services have encryption features and others will self-destruct after a specified period of time. To name a few: GuerrilaMail, SecureMail, HideMyAss and Mailinator. Other sites allow you to send a one-way message without revealing your identity, such as AnonymousEmail.us.
Mobile messaging apps. Your mobile device is an intimate item and a desirable target for thieves. Messaging apps have taken center stage and some have added extra security features to secure conversations from prying eyes. We are talking about end-to-end encryption, self-destructive messages, encryption keys to validate the identity of the recipient, and promises of not storing your data on their servers. The most-downloaded apps are Telegram, Frankly, Line and Viber. In fact, Telegram promises itâ€™s so secure that it offered $200,000 to anyone who can hack the system.
Private social networks. How to stay private in a world where being social is the norm? Developers encourage privacy-aware social networking by creating decentralized, open-source social platforms where you choose on which server from around the world you want to host your data, and even create your own hosting platform. This way, corporations canâ€™t store everything you do online. Some popular names: Diaspora, Movim and Tent.
No matter what tool you decide to install, keep your security solution updated and stay cautious about the links you click and the information you share! Vigilance works wonders for a good nightâ€™s sleep!