Online Security & Privacy – Why it’s the first thing you MUST consider!
Now let’s not blame the current state for the biggest blunder people make in confusing security and privacy! They are not the same and unfortunately, many providers are simply billing their services as one in the same. In this article, I’ll be exploring the basics and then provide you with further articles on details that will be practical and based on tried and tested facts (see bottom of this article) . If you would like a more detailed review or look at your digital wellbeing, then I would welcome your discussion and to connect with me.
So let’s start with a couple of facts:
Don’t believe the hype!
Step one is to stop believing all those clickbait, do this now – nonsense that you see on social media and YouTube. Keep your approach simple and you will be fine. There is absolutely no need as a normal person to overload your tech with bloated security and privacy solutions.
There is NO 100% “Bullet Proof” security and privacy!
It doesn’t exist. Stop looking for it and believing these useless claims. If this was the case, then half of us would have digitally disappeared, Google and Facebook wouldn’t be hacked and your unsuspecting bikini clad pics wouldn’t find their way on UseNet groups. However, what you can do is get as close to 100% as possible.
Android and Apple/iOS are Unhackable!
Wrong. You just need to google the terms and will find a mass of articles on how hackers have managed to circumvent the once unhackable Apple core and Android. Windows is just a hacker’s best friend so we won’t go there. However, if you do use Windows, then this still applies.
All VPNs are safe and protect my Anonymity and Privacy!
Hell No! Not all VPNs are created equal and certainly their network infrastructure, privacy policies and other practices will give you a very good idea of just how private and anonymous you are. More on this later.
FREE services are the same as Paid ones
NO NO… a little common sense goes a long way. How can something just be free? What data is being collected in the background? What serious levels of protection are being offered and how can a free service pay for these? I understand the “good samaritan” proposition, but in an age where even accessing toilets costs a little money, there is no such thing as FREE security or privacy without there being compromises or catches. So don’t be fooled.
I use VPN and Antivirus so Google doesn’t track me
Seriously? You will be surprised at how much data Google, facebook, Instagram, TokTok and a bazzilion other apps collect about you and your habits. Imagine…you open the Amazon app and voila, it magically knows you need a new pressure cooker at a certain price range! Even if you had zero apps downloaded on your mobile, settings in your phone are enough to give both Google and Apple 60% of what they need. In a later article I will show you how best to limit this personal data outflow.
Don’t rely on ranking and review sites
Ranking and review sites that give you the “Best of 2020” are great but 9/10 are all affiliate linked and more often than none, they will all have similar rankings. The objective here is to get a commission on everyone they refer. This is fine and its acceptable practice. However, a deeper dive and you will find more or less the same info, same ranks and same software. Go independent. Sites that are willing to expose rather than promote. Sites that are all encompassing and not just purely focused on a product or service. So what is the difference:
Digital Security is simply making sure that what comes into your devices (PC, mobile, etc.) and what goes out is safe, secure and that you are aware and authorized it to do so . No unintentional or malicious connections that will expose your devices, their content and allow for manipulation without your knowledge. Think of it as the Doors in your home.
Online Privacy is simply ensuring that your data, images, docs and anything that belongs to you is, private. It also extends to ensuring you are not exposed online, remain anonymous and that any actions you do are secure and non-traceable. Think of it as simply a veil.
So where do people get these two horribly wrong? For starters, they will install or assume a software will handle all in an efficient manner. Example, using a Firewall or Antiviral software and assume you are fully protected and anonymous. It won’t work and despite the availability of software that will do it all, it will most certainly fail in one aspect. So where are my tried and tested solutions.
“Understand that keeping yourself digitally secure and private applies to anything you connect to. The internet and even within a close loop network. Malware, Spyware and Trackers are just the tip of the iceberg”
To Stay Secure:
Install a Firewall and Antiviral (all in one) tool. For example, I highly recommend Norton or products by McAfee. This will protect your device(s) from unauthorized access and will protect you from viruses, trackers, malware and spyware. Additionally, use a service that has been independently verified on the number of viruses or intrusions it detects. Don’t take the provider’s word for it. Products I recommend:
Symantec Norton Security 360 – starting from $99.99 annually
McAfee Total Protection – starting from $39.99 annually
- Yearly subscription that is cost effective
- Protects several devices across your PCs and Mobiles
- Install and Go for easy use (minimal to know adjustments)
- Superior firewall and antivirus, malware and spyware protection
- May include some privacy tools bundled as a bonus
These are the very best in my opinion. While there are many more, I highly recommend these out of over 15 years of use and experience. BitDefender is another good one, but less intuitive to use and more geared for pros. Pricing varies but to get the best, you need to pay for the service. DON’T SKIMP and go for freebies. Nothing, including security is free!
To Stay private while Browsing:
A VPN is the route to go. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is simply an extra layer of protection that sits between you (origin) and the destination address (the site you want to access). By adding this extra layer, this will:
- Encrypt your data thus making it difficult to know what you are accessing
- Allows you to hide your IP address and remain anonymous
- Makes it harder for trackers and ad codes to monitor your activities
- Access content that is geolocalized (eg Netflix US or others)
There are over 24,000 VPN services today and yet not all are created equal. May are also rebranded resellers of existing providers. I will dedicate an article on this as it demands a clear view on what a VPN is and which you can use to truly keep you private and anonymous as best as possible. But for now, the ones I would highly recommend are:
Personal VPN (which I promote and sell here) – starting from $5.99 per month**
Express VPN – starting from $8.32 per month
- Cost effective protection
- DNS Leak protection
- Protect multiple devices using one subscription
- Flexible to include root files for routers
- 256bit AES encryption
- Multi-layered protocols
- High Quality server locations
- No logging policy independently verified
Relax, I will provide full details on the above and more, but for the eager puppies, these are the two I use and would recommend. Another notable mention is Tachyon VPN which uses a new decentralized server base.
So to sum up, you would need a robust firewall, a solid antivirus/protection tool and a VPN if you want to get the basics going. Naturally, there is also a lot you will need to do to minimize your digital footprint and potential digital hazards. This would entail changing your browsing software, habits and even taking a few extra steps to further strengthen your security and privacy. For example:
- Leveraging 2FA (2 factor authentication) which doubles your security access to sites, cloud based services and even your digital mobile accounts. This also protects your accounts from unauthorised access, warning you via a secondary device or email account.
- Using password generators and limiting the use of simple common passwords and codes
- Changing your browser to a more secure one
- Using Ad blockers and DNS Leak protection scripts
The above is just a simple view but for a more complex look at how I try to protect myself as much as I can without sacrificing the online enjoyment of the web, be on the lookout for my articles on:
The Great Wall of Fire – A look at the best firewall and protection tools you need
Now you see me, now you don’t – VPNs and why you need one now!
Securing your Digital life – Why, how and the tools you need
WIFI and ISPs – not as advertised
What I explain and show is based on over 15 years of tried and tested experience and I hope that for the less techy, these articles will help you gain a quick and better understanding of what you need and how to live a secure digital life.
** Notice: I have been partnering with Personal VPN for over 10 years now selling their top grade VPN service. I do receive a small commission off sales. You would be supporting me but you are not obliged to purchase this VPN.
All images are Google sourced and copyrighted by their respective owners.