How to Protect Yourself and Increase Your Online Security Forever

The internet is a dangerous place. Although it takes place in a cyber-location and a virtual world, there are many dangerous crimes that can be committed including identity theft, fraud, larceny, burglary, and extortion. Some people think that antivirus and firewall software is the solution to these potential threats — the truth is these softwares are only the beginning of creating protection when using the Internet. There are more threats and more actions that can be taken to increase protection. In order to facicilate a secure environment and stop worrying about these kinds of threats happening, this is a compilation of the solutions that will secure your online identity forever. They are explained in detail along with instructions on how to put them in place, so that you will be protected from online threats.

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These solutions are advanced, that is, they require a modicum of knowledge as well as implementation in order to be successful. However, in order to secure your identity, information, and credentials, they are necessary; the reasoning is because there are many avenues for malicious hackers and criminals to perpretrate their crimes. Using a VPN, encrypting ISP traffic, managing your passwords with a password manager, changing web search engines so that your information is not tracked, signing up for secure email service for the same reason, and privatizing services that you use so that the data is never made public works in the way that the avenues that are used by hackers and corporations are closed. Your information is protected and inaccessible, and more importantly, secure. and On top of these precautions, creating a fake identity to use online can serve as a proxy for all of the data aggregation so that even if your information is revealed online, it will always be the data of your secondary identity.

Using a VPN for all traffic

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Normally when you connect to a website or service using your Internet, your computer is labeled via IP address, Mac number, internet cookie, or some other tracking device that identities your computer. Your computer identifier can be viewed and all data that is accessed by that identifier makes any kind of anonmity obsolete.

Fortunately, one way to secure this hole is to use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, to when connecting to services or websites. When you employ a VPN, your new computer identifier is that of the VPN: instead of seeing your IP address for your computer, the third party service or website sees the IP address of the VPN. Instead of seeing your mac address, it sees the VPN’s mac address. Instead of seeing your cookies, it sees the VPN’s cookies. All of the identifiers that are associated with identifying your computer are transferred over to the VPN. This means that when you log out of the VPN, you leave the data with them and there is no way to track your own access logs.

There are many VPN services available, some for free and some require a paid subscription. For the purposes of providing a starting point for using VPN services, we have highlighted both a free and paid subscription VPN service so that you can secure your data and traffic.

Hidemyass.com
Heard of military-grade encryption? Hide My Ass! has got one better: donkey-grade encryption, and that’s not a buzzword. Have you ever heard of a donkey getting hacked?

Privateinternetaccess.com
Our IP cloak masks your real IP address with one of our anonymous IP addresses, effectively keeping websites and internet services from tracking your web-browsing habits, monitoring what you search for, and discovering your geographic location.

After establishing a secure connection to our security layer, you will be issued a new U.S. based IP address which will substitute a different location.

Encrypting Internet Service Provider Traffic

VPNs do half the work — that is, when you connect to a website or service, your VPN absorbs the identifiers that could lead a hacker or corporation to your computer. However, the data that is still susceptible is that of which before you connect to the VPN. Your Internet Service Provider, be it Comcast, Spectrum, AOL, etc., can still see that you both connected to a VPN and the data that was transmitted through the VPN to you. In order to make ourselves even more secure, what we are going to want to do is encrypt our internet traffic. Doing so makes the traffic and data that the Internet Service Provider sees encrypted, and there is even less ties between the information, your VPN, and your computer.

OpenDNS
OpenDNS was founded in 2006 with the mission to provide a safer, faster, and better internet browsing experience for all users. Initially, OpenDNS provided a recursive DNS service for use at home, and in 2009 introduced a service for the enterprise market. In 2012, OpenDNS launched an enterprise security product, called Umbrella. Its rapid success and customer adoption led to OpenDNS being acquired by Cisco in 2015.

Since configuring this service requires advanced configuration of your network, here is a neat little tutorial that will help you along your way to using Open DNS.

Installing and Using a Password Manager

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PasswordPal
PasswordPal, developed by Leakprobe, takes all the hassle out of password management forever. The program stores all your passwords for you in an encrypted database, and then auto-fills your websites with your information securely when you need to. It also generates maximum strength passwords, allows changing these credentials on the fly in cases of data breaches, and notifies users if their accounts have been leaked on the Internet.

A password manager is a piece of software that is used to add an extra layer of security with credentials. Password Managers allow users to store all of their passwords as well as manage them to upkeep password security. These features aid in the recovery and prevention of lost accounts and strengths of passwords. Users that regularly update their password managers allow current information that may be hacked or leaked to become outdated, thereby preventing unauthorized access to accounts.

Changing Web Search Engines

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Google is known to record and use the data that is searched by it’s users. If you’ve ever seen advertisements that have been seemingly tailored to your recent searches or browsing history, data logging by search engines demonstrates that your information is distributed to third party advertising services. Google partially anonymizes browsing data after 9 months, removing the last octet of IP address identifiers, but according to Google Vice President Susan Wojcicki, the advertising practices employed by Google are positive not negative. “We believe there is real value to seeing ads about the things that interest you,” she said in a report. “If, for example, you love adventure travel and therefore visit adventure travel sites, Google could show you more ads for activities like hiking trips to Patagonia or African safaris. While interest-based advertising can infer your interest in adventure travel from websites you visit, you can also choose your favorite categories, or tell us which categories you don’t want to see ads for.”

Despite the positive intent of Google, most users would prefer higher anonymity of their web searches, and a displacement from advertisement targetting. To achieve this, using other search engines is a priority.

Duck Duck Go
Our privacy policy is simple: we don’t collect or share any of your personal information. We don’t store your search history. We therefore have nothing to sell to advertisers that track you across the internet. Other search engines track your searches even when you’re in private browsing mode. We don’t track you — period. No tracking, no ad targeting, just searching.

Signing Up For Secure Email Service

There are many implications with email service providers. As the case with Google’s targetted advertising, email content is logged for “positive” advertising purposes. Various other email services create logs as well as keep backups and provide third parties with information from email services that are used. There have been many attempts at creating an anonymized and secure email service that is provided at no cost for those that are interested in breaking away from the mainstream email providers. Oftentimes your information is either encrypted or servers are wiped so that the content can never fall into the hands of third party distribution.

Privatizing Services You Use

2FA
Encrypting Email
Encrypting Chat

Popular programs or services that support 2FA

Google
Facebook
Instagram
Whatsapp
Twitter
Apple
Microsoft
Amazon
Yahoo
Linkedin
Snapchat
Reddit
Pinterest
Slack
Dropbox
Evernote
Venmo
Paypal
Tumblr
Wordpress
Square
Playstation
Turbotax
Steam
Etsy

(If you use one of the applications on the above list, and haven’t activated 2FA, it is highly recommended that you do so as soon as possible!)

2FA, or two factor authentication, is exactly what it sounds — benchmarks requiring authentication via a second device in order to gain access to whatever service or product it is associated with. 2FA can be activated on almost all modern services, including email and social media. You can activate 2FA using the interfaces that are provided, or use a third party application that adds the extra layer of security to your software. Email and chat programs are two of the dominating services for choice of communication for both personal and professional usage. Because these programs are the most used, they are extra vulnerable as targets for identity theft and fraud. We have provided some links below for replacements of secure services to eliminate the last holes in security.

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Proton Mail
All emails are secured automatically with end-to-end encryption. This means even we cannot decrypt and read your emails. As a result, your encrypted emails cannot be shared with third parties. No personal information is required to create your secure email account. By default, we do not keep any IP logs which can be linked to your anonymous email account. Your privacy comes first.

What’s App
WhatsApp slowly rolled out its end-to-end encryption offering. It first partnered with Open Whisper Systems in 2014 to add the same encryption methods used in Signal, and then in 2016, it announced that all WhatsApp communications — voice messages, photos, video messages, chats, group chats, etc — are protected by end-to-end encryption. It even provides a security-verification code that you can share with a contact to ensure that your conversation is encrypted.

Creating a Fake Identity

Always use a different name, address, social security number, email address, VPN, paypal or financial account, birthday, etc. with all of your transactions that you complete online. That way, should your identity be stolen by malicious hackers, your true identity will never be compromised!

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