Online Security & Privacy

image of keys in a lock

I’ve been on a security & privacy kick recently. I’ve always taken online security recently, but given all the hacks, phishing, and ransomware attacks as of late, I decided to up my game. Below are some of the things I did.

  1. Encrypted my cloud files. I realized many of the things that I had stored in the cloud contained sensitive information, such as credit card numbers listed on monthly statements. So using a program called Boxcryptor, I encrypted all the files on the cloud services that I use (Dropbox, Google Drive). So if the service ever got hacked or if someone gained access to my password, they’d be unable to read any of the files.
  2. Use a VPN. I used to always use a VPN whenever I was away from home and using public Wi-Fi, but I now use it full time, even when I’m in the house. A VPN is an encrypted tunnel between your device and the Internet and can help you maintain online safety and privacy. It hides your IP Address allowing you to browse privately without anyone tracking your online activity.
  3. Updated my passwords. I went through my password list and ensured that I didn’t reuse any passwords. I also changed them all to have at least 15 characters, including special symbols & capital letters. If there were passwords for sites or services I no longer used, I logged on and deleted my account.
  4. Encrypted my hard drive. Mac computers include a feature called File Vault, with which you can encrypt your entire hard drive. This way, if your computer is ever stolen, nobody will be able to read your files without knowing the encryption password.
  5. Encrypted my external drives. Mac computers also allow you to encrypt your external drives. All you need to do is right-click a drive from the Finder and choose “Encrypt” from the contextual menu. Again, anyone who accesses the drive will need to know the password in order to read the data on it.
  6. Froze my credit. I also put a freeze on my credit at each of the three big credit reporting agencies. This way, nobody will be able to open any accounts in my name unless they have the “unfreeze” codes that the companies provided to me.
  7. Use an encrypted email service. I signed up for an encrypted email service so that messages that I sent are encrypted both ways, as long as the person with whom I’m corresponding uses the same service. My emails are also stored in a super-secure site in Switzerland. This is important to me, given that many emails that I receive — such as credit card statements — contain sensitive information.
  8. Use a Password Manager. I’ve used a password manager for several years now and what I love most about them is that you no longer need to memorize your passwords or write them down on papers (where they could fall into the wrong hands) — simply copy and paste them directly from the app. This makes it easy to have lengthy and complicated passwords without fearing that you’ll forget them. I also store credit card numbers and credit card contact info, passwords for encrypted drives, medical information, software keys, or any confidential data that I want to keep from prying eyes.

These are just a few of the things I’ve done to ensure that my online life is safe as possible.

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