As children of the online revolution, we’re becoming ever more inundated with stories regarding privacy invasion. Social media, search engines and websites have taken the brunt of accusations but in truth privacy invasion is all around us.
How can you go about reducing your susceptibility to leaking information like a well-greased government whistle-blower? And how can you protect yourself in this technology rich world, with so many areas where privacy can be breeched.
Privacy invasion is no longer only a celebrity bane, this encroaching on our behaviour has made it to the general public – It happens everywhere. Your internet activity is monitored, cellular movements followed and consumer behaviour is tracked.
So what can you do to improve your privacy?
Your first step should be to consider how you browse the internet. Assuming your Anti-Virus is up to date, the next stage of a potential privacy leak is a search engine. Google has a 94% share of the search market in Western Europe and as you can imagine, profits from its users data. Google uses personal information in a number of ways to tailor searches to the searchers needs, this detailed information can be used to market products directly at you. What Google know about your behaviour is quite amazing, and a little creepy.
DuckDuckGo offers an anonymous search experience. The privacy focused software doesn’t track user information, searches are not tailored in any way to consumer behaviour and you are simply, an anonymous browser. Think of it as a blank search every time you go onto the website, your details can’t be sold to advertisers as there are no details to sell.
Amazingly one of the simplest deterrents to privacy invasion is often not considered. Always be aware of your surroundings, in the real world!
If you travel and work on public transport using laptops or tablets, consider a Privacy Screen, like this by Targus. The screen is a micro slim film that covers the front of a monitor, only allowing viewing from head on. Anyone sat at your side will not be able see what you’re working on.
You wouldn’t hand your credit card to a shady store owner, so why trust your details on a unknown WiFi network? Try and connect to networks that you know are legit. If you do connect to a public WiFi, make sure the ‘Public Place’ pre-sets are selected, meaning data is not shared over the network. Try and avoid going on websites that require accreditation details to be submitted, card numbers, bank logins etc…. A general rule is to always avoid purchasing products on unknown WiFi networks.
The number of government leaks from lost hard drives and files found on trains is staggering, wars have be turned on less information slips. Simple encryption software protects your files if you do happen to be a forgetful member of parliament.
Encrypted flash drives are a great way to protect your information without spending huge amounts of money. These secure drives require a passkey or code to access files and, depending on the security level, can be suitable for government or data protection level encryption like doctors information or personal files.
There are plenty of these encrypted drives about starting from the £5 mark with varying levels of security. The Kingston Data Traveller has built-in Encryption. The DataTraveler Locker+ G3 hardware encrypts and password protects data saved on the device. Simply select a password during setup and be confident that all your data has a dual layer of protection. Flash drives can also be portioned meaning half of your drive can be open to use whilst still having half security protected. Almost like your own black box security within a shared device.
Sometimes a home network can be source of a serious breach in privacy. Amazingly some people’s home networks are still not password protected. It’s vital you set up some form of security question or password on your routers to prevent people either; jumping on the WIFI for free or causing more serious damage by using spyware and monitoring software to follow your activities.
Routers offer various forms of built in protection with varying levels for different products. Different companies and even models offer variations in security protection so check with the individual product to see what you’re actually getting for your money.
For the home Asus’ mid-range router the RT-N53 contains a firewall for network security, with the additional features of flexible parental control. Meaning you can filter websites by restricting URL’s, type of site or even times of the day. You can also set up a guest network so visitors to your home can only access the internet, but have no visibility of your devices or files.
The ZyXEL SBG3300-N is ideal for business use, with multiple inputs the router has ADSL / Cable / Fibre or 3G connectivity options meaning you can upgrade connections easily. It also has great network speeds (Gigabit Ethernet & business-class N300 wireless) with a business-class firewall to protect users & files from threats & viruses.
Backing up your files is always a great idea, especially if you travel around a lot or regularly update/edit software- Wireless routers can help with this too. Routers have the ability to share & secure your data files by using network attached storage (NAS), rather than just a standalone backup hard drive for a single PC. The NAS device connects to the router allowing shared storage via the WIFI signal. Think of it as your own personal cloud service, everytime you update a file it is saved onto your PC and the NAS drive. It means you have remote access & backup of files over any device that can send files via WiFi.