If you’re reading this article then you probably don’t need much convincing on why it’s important to keep your identity safe online and maintain your privacy.
You’re likely more interested in the “how” to stay private online and that’s what this post is all about.
Let’s get started.
Your Internet Connection
The first place to start when it comes to online privacy is how you connect to the internet in the first place. Using wifi networks (especially public wifi’s) are terribly unsafe. It’s very easy with someone with average technical knowhow to capture this data (with all your bank passwords and other log-in info) and use it against you. It’s a very common for people to sit on public wifi’s and steal this information when they have the opportunity.
Not only that, when you surf the web from your home wifi network, your internet service provider and every site you visit can see your home IP address which can be tied back to you.
If you want any privacy at all from these sites and from your service provider (Comcast, AT&T or whoever) then you need to VPN service. A VPN service will disguise your home IP address and encrypt your data that you send so you are safe even if you’re using a public wifi hotspot.
I prefer FastestVPN because it doesn’t slow down your internet connection at all and the pages still load lighting fast when surfing through their VPN.
One of the most dangerous leaks of your online privacy is your email communication and storage. Many people don’t realize that the government does not consider your emails covered by privacy laws because you voluntarily give it to a 3rd party. A 3rd party in this case would be free email services like gmail, yahoo, AOL, etc.
These companies use the information you send via email to sell to advertisers. For example, if you mention in an email that you plan to go on a cruise, your free email service will scan that data and start to sell it to travel companies that might want to sell you a cruise.
Aside from Google and the rest of them building a profile on you for their own profit, these free email services also hand over all their data to the U.S. government as they are required to do under the Patriot act. This has been known since Edward Snowden went public but it was confirmed with news stories like this one. Rest assured, there are many more stories that we don’t know about.
For email privacy, encrypted communication and file storage, I highly recommend you use DigitalSafe. This company is based in Switzerland and therefore has to comply with all the of Swiss privacy laws that are much stricter than those in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
DigitalSafe works like a digital vault for all of your email communication and file storage. They also allow you to send emails securely under “Secure Send” where you send your message in a link that the recipient clicks on to read the message. This means that what you write in the email is not saved in their inbox and their free email service cannot read what your message says. You can set a time limit on the link and add a password to it if you want.
DigitalSafe also comes with a password manager and online storage so you can save private documents like your tax returns and medical records and know that they are protected under Swiss Privacy laws and military-level security.
DigitalSafe is not known by many people but I can’t recommend it highly enough if you care about your privacy.
Another way that Google, Microsoft (Bing), Yahoo and others sell your data to advertisers is by keeping track of all your search history. No one should have the right to use your interests and search history to make money for themselves. It’s the equivalent of someone following you around Barnes & Nobles and taking notes about every book or magazine you decide to pick up off the shelf and browse.
DuckDuckGo is a privacy-minded search engine that works just as well as google but does not keep your search history. It’s important to note that DuckDuckGo does make money by selling to advertisers the banner ads that appear after you search something. This is different than what other search engines do because they do not save your search history and build a profile on who you are.
DuckDuckGo is free and it’s an easy adjustment to make in your online behavior. I recommend that you bookmark DuckDuckGo and change it to your default search engine in all of your preferences. I also recommend that you download the DuckDuckGo mobile browser and do all your mobile surfing through that instead of safari or chrome.