Your Privacy is at stake but there is still a chance to save it!
On March 23rd the senate voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs to get consumers’ explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies. The vote was 50–48.
Sure basically everywhere we turn we hand out our privacy and data for free. If you don’t think so just read the terms of service for LinkedIn or Facebook. Either way they still have the decency to ask for our consent before they take our data, use it, and sell it. If you don’t agree then you simply can’t use their services.
It’s a little harder to do this with an Internet Service Provider. They are more or less your gateway to the modern world. Schools depend on it for research, work places are more and more moving to work from home solutions to reduce operating costs. So it has become a necessity almost as much as electricity. So even if the ISP’s asked for your permission if you were to say no they may not allow you to have access to the World Wide Web. The other issue with the potential of denial of internet access is most of the time the ISP is the only one in your area, and if there is other options in your area you are likely to run into the same issue.
Ars Technica has a fantastic article on the issue here. If you want to do something about your privacy there are several steps that you as an individual can take.
The Electronic Freedom Foundations or EFF is a Non-profit in San Francisco that has been fighting for your privacy rights behind the scenes for years. They are always on the forefront of defending privacy.
I would highly suggest checking them out at https://www.eff.org/
Ok, enough about all that, what can you do to protect yourself and identity now?
Strong Unique Passphrases
We all have that one password that we use for almost every account. I know it’s convenient and easier to remember, however it is extremely risky. The podcast had a recent episode called the Russian Passenger that took a nice look into what happens when your password is compromised. You can listen to it here.
A simple thing you can do is get a password manager that can help create unique and strong passphrases for each website. One of the most popular ones out there is Lastpass. Lastpass had made the news for being hacked, but they had done a fantastic job staying ahead of the hack and correcting any issues. If however that makes your uneasy you can use Dashline or Sticky Password are some alternative options.
Get a VPN yesterday
You should have a VPN option ASAP. The fact of the matter is we are connected all the time and using “free wifi” can be as risky as licking the door handle on a Starbucks. VPN’s help ensure that your connections are encrypted. There are tons of options out there for VPN’s. From my experience, I can say don’t ever use a “free vpn” the infrastructure costs money and no one can offer it for free so you are paying for it in some way. The easiest and most effective VPN I have used has been Private Internet Access PIA. They are fast reliable and cost effective. I primarily use the VPN on my Android phone. You can sign up for their vpn at https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ a year cost about 39.95 at the time of this writing.
HTTP or HTTPS?
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is ensure you are connecting to a website with HTTPS vs HTTP. HTTPS means all the traffic is encrypted and more protected and secure than http. A lot of websites already implement this. One way to ensure you are using HTTPS is by using an add-on the EFF has an extension called HTTPS Everywhere that works very well, you can get it here.
Block those dirty 3rd party cookies
Cookies are great, they make things easier to browse and faster to load, however third party cookies are something generally you want to block these are the ones that will track you and use it for advertising purposes. In your internet browser you want to ensure it is set to block 3rd party cookies.
Block your location
Have you ever visited a website and they ask for your location? It is a better idea not to share that to make it harder to build a profile on you and your habits. Additionally if you have a smart phone it is not a bad idea to turn off location services when you don’t need them, because almost every app you use will take this data and sell it to a third party.
Duck Duck Go
Search engines build a pretty good profile on you but there is one out there that is pretty effective and does not collect any personal data and that is DuckDuckGo it takes a little getting used to but they don’t build a profile on you so it may be worth it.
Use DNS that is more secure
Domain Name Servers take what you type like www.linkedin.com and finds out where it belongs in the IP world example say its 18.104.22.168 that resolves to linkedin.com. It is not totally necessary but if you are worried about it you can change your DNS to DNS.Watch or Verisigns DNS both had taken a hard stance on protecting your privacy as well as giving you reliable DNS solutions.
These are only a few of the solutions that you can use to protect yourself.