How to Protect Yourself Against Online Spying
Privacy is important when you want it. Here are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe from prying eyes on the web.
Page 2 of 4
Protection from the Government is Futile
The government is like a magical octopus that can squeeze anywhere. If they want to monitor you, they can, and there’s nothing you can do about it technically. But you can encrypt your communication so the teenager down the block with a surveillance kit she built out of an old hair dryer and piece of aluminum foil can’t eavesdrop.
See also: How to Maintain Your Privacy on the Web
Lesson #1 is to encrypt your wireless network. My colleague the Tech Talker has more on that in his episode How to Encrypt Your Files. Even then, always connect to sensitive web sites using SSL, Secure Sockets Layer. You know you’re using SSL when your browser is looking at a URL starting with https instead of http. This makes sure that even if a nefarious teenager is monitoring which sites you’re communicating with, they can’t see the data you’re sending.
Store Documents Encrypted
For those pesky times when your home gets ransacked and your hard drive is stolen, you don’t want your hard drive to be an open book. Encrypt that puppy! If you have Windows 7 or later, you can use the built-in “BitLocker” to encrypt your hard drive. If you have Mac OS X, you can use “File Vault 2” to encrypt your hard drive.
When you encrypt your hard drive, you’re the only one who can access it. But beware! A single disk error in the wrong part of your disk could make your entire drive unusable and non-recoverable. So make sure to back up regularly. Of course, make sure the backups are also encrypted.
See also: How to Encrypt Your Data
If you back up to the cloud, choose a backup service that encrypts files before sending them to the cloud. On the Mac, I use Arq from Haystack Software. It’s a bit tricky to set up, since you need to get an Amazon S3 account, but it’s worth the effort.