It is imperative to keep ourselves safe online.
With the way technology has progressed, your privacy/safety can be taken away from you without your knowledge.
There is no way to keep your self completely hidden but there are certain things that you can do to keep your privacy protected online from prying eyes
I’ll dwell into Browser security first and later on move onto computer OS’s
1. Use a modern browser & always keep your browser updated.
2. Enable Do-Not-Track feature:
On Firefox – Menu > Preferences > Privacy
On Chrome – Menu > Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy
3. Install the HTTPS Everywhere add-on by the EFF
4. Install the Privacy Badger add-on by the EFF.
5. Remove unwanted toolbars and add-ons
Install only what you need and what you will use. Install from the official add-on sources for your browser.
Lots of toolbars/add-ons will have a negative impact on browser performance.
6. Ensure your are connected via a HTTPS connection during browsing and at all times of online transactions/payment.
In modern browsers a lock icon in the address bar can be used to verify this.
7. Use your head.
Have a ‘good’ browsing habit.
Use strong and unique passwords. Do not rely too much on Password Managers. Have it written down and stored in a safe place if you are prone to forgetting your passwords.
Don’t click on spam emailed links, click-bait articles. If you really must, open it a private tab/window.
PRO-Tip: Use search engines like DuckDuckGo or Startpage that respect your privacy!
1. Keep Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader and Java always updated to the latest version.
They are the most attacked software and are regularly updated too. Ensure you’ve enabled auto-updates in each of these softwares. It is critical to keep them updated because they provide browser plug-ins.
Same goes for other non critical softwares too.
2. Anti-virus softwares:
I personally don’t use one because I feel it does more harm than good but, if you are not technically sound, it’s better to get one – if you want to(or get a better OS).
3. Download/Install software from official sites or at least the reputed ones.
PRO-Tip: Try to substitute proprietary applications with Open Source ones. For eg. MS Office with LibreOffice
Operating System (OS):
1. Keep your OS regularly updated
Do not neglect this. Most security fixes come through this update mechanism.
Enable the default auto-update option.
2. Keep your hardware drivers updated.
3. Enable the built in firewall
4. Get rid of softwares that ‘clean‘ your PC or ‘fix‘ your Windows registry.
If you really need to clean your PC then use the Add/Remove Programs or the Disk Cleanup option in Windows.
5. If on Linux - DO NOT disable SELinux!
1. Install apps through official stores or reliable sources(F-Droid, Amazon)
2. Avoid pirated apps as they may contain malware.
3. Jailbreak and root only if you need to.
Be sure of what apps have root access on your phone once you do this.
4. Avoid backing up personal files to the cloud.
5. Custom ROM’s are good but know what your are doing.
6. Use reputed browsers from the official stores than the default browser preloaded on the phone
They are more likely to be updated to address security issues when they occur.
7. Use official apps when it involves online transactions and payments.
8. Use apps like Orbot, Orweb, ChatSecure: Private Messaging for added privacy
Check out other privacy focused apps by The Guardian Project.
These are few things that you could do to improve your privacy/security. If you want to move on, you’ll have to make good researched choices on OS, Browsers, Softwares and how to use proper encryption safeguards that are available.
Also a good way to ensure your privacy is to leave commercial software and start using community developed softwares.
You can use Linux OS for your desktop needs. Fret Not! Its not scary and daunting.
Its way better and user friendly with Distro’s like Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, Korora etc.
I had written a guide(old but still relevant) for Linux Newbies. Check it out – http://wp.me/p1eITv-2R
Install Custom ROM’s like AOSP based ROM from xda or use CyanogenMod or Replicant OS
or you could buy phones from a privacy minded company like Mozilla which makes phones with the Firefox OS.