7 Encryption and Privacy Tips

Encryption isn’t just for cybersecurity experts — it’s for everyday Internet users. In fact, you probably used encryption today without even realizing it.

Encryption, along with other online privacy practices, can safeguard your emails and medical data, and allow you to more securely shop and bank online. Below, we’re sharing seven tips to help ensure your Internet experiences are encrypted, more secure, and more private. Then, if you want to learn more and help protect encryption, visit advocacy.mozilla.org/encrypt.

1) Take steps to encrypt your communications. Encryption is the encoding of data so that only people with a special key can unlock it. Most modern communications systems use strong encryption. iMessage, Signal, and WhatsApp all provide encrypted text messaging. Facetime, Signal, Firefox Hello, and Google Hangouts all provide encrypted video conferencing. E-mail, ordinary phone calls, and SMS do not provide strong security.

2) Ensure your software is up to date. Software updates are like oil changes ­ — they can be a hassle in the moment, but a lifesaver in hindsight. Update apps and devices regularly to take advantage of developers’ latest and greatest security enhancements. Many modern apps and operating systems automatically update themselves for improved security.

3) When entering personal information online, make sure the website uses encryption. Without encryption, any personal data you send to a website is at risk. If there’s a little lock next to the URL, then encryption is being used.

4) Learn how online tracking works. Many websites track your browsing patterns as you surf the Web. Sometimes, websites make this clear and use the data to enhance your online experience. But other times, tracking happens without your knowledge. Try Mozilla Lightbeam, the simple add-on that visually graphs who’s watching you.

5) Use two-factor authentication when possible. Two-factor authentication — like requiring a pin number texted to your cell phone — adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. Then, would-be snoopers require much more than your password — they need your phone, too.

6) Take your passwords seriously. Long passwords are key. And don’t use a single password everywhere. Here are more tips for keeping your accounts secure.

7) Delete unused accounts. Ever create a profile for a new social networking site, but quickly lose interest? It happens to most of us. If you’re not using a social media platform or service any longer, there’s no reason to continue volunteering your data. Further, some services and apps sell user data when they shut down. If you don’t use it, close it.

Learn more about encryption by visiting advocacy.mozilla.org/encrypt