Selector: Alexandra Sarkozy
The recent Equifax breach that potentially exposed over
143 million 146 million Americans to identity theft and credit fraud has caused many to give online privacy and security measures a second look. As smartphones, tablets, credit and debit cards, and social media move from being optional to required features of participating in commercial and civic society, it's important to understand what personal information is being broadcast by you (on Facebook and Twitter) and your devices, and how it is being collected and used by governments, marketers, data brokers (like Equifax) and maybe hackers. Even cats can be potential password sniffers. October is Cybersecurity Month, and to celebrate, we've put together this guide of resources where you can inform yourself about online privacy and security, and take steps to protect yourself.
This guide is intended to open and broaden conversations about internet culture, security, privacy, and intellectual freedom, and to educate and empower internet users everywhere.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are encrypted, secure communications channels that protect internet traffic from hackers and snoops. VPN services differ in levels of encryption, speed, security, and reliability- if you're in serious need of political protection, a VPN is not going to be enough to help you. If you are looking for a safer way to utilize a wifi connection in a cafe or airport, a VPN is what you're looking for.
More about what VPNs are and what they can do: What is a VPN?
More discussion on when to use a VPN: A VPN can protect your online privacy. But there's a catch.
Here are some VPN options and rankings. Some VPNs are free, some are paid, some offer tiers of service based on price.
Third-party trackers from online marketers and advertising firms track and record users' browsing history. They then use this history of webpage viewing to determine personal interests, and then target advertising at individuals. You can block these trackers with the following browser plugins, and protect your data further with additional apps.
Tutorials, overviews, tools, and information about strong passwords, encryption, social media tracking, mobile devices, and more. Great place to quickly understand what's at stake, assess your risk, and take steps to protect yourself.
Privacy Badger is a browser plugin for both Firefox and Chrome that blocks third-party advertising trackers. Created and maintained by the privacy advocacy nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Free.
Browser plugin for Chrome, also from EFF. Converts HTTP connections to encrypted HTTPS, protecting your communications from hackers, sniffers, and snoops. Free.
Ghostery is another browser plugin that blocks advertising and social media trackers, as well as other third-party cookies and trackers from websites. Ghostery also makes a private browser for both iOS and Android devices. Free.
Blocks trackers and malware across browsers and available for entire devices. Free version for a single browser; paid options and VPN services for full devices. Free and paid versions.
App for iOS and Android devices from Whisper Systems, Inc. Signal encrypts voice and text conversations. Free.
SudoApp allows you to create special-purpose avatars with usable email addresses and phone numbers. Use avatars instead of giving out your private email and phone number to maintain privacy on the web. Currently only for iOS devices, but web and Android versions under development. Free and paid versions.
Create virtual credit cards that obscure your name and billing details so you can shop online privately. Available on web and for Apple and Android devices. Free.
Search engine alternative to Google. Duck Duck Go does not track searches, nor does it sell information about search behavior to advertisers. Available as a browser plugin. Free.
Encrypted, secure alternative to Evernote notetaking app. Available for OSx, Windows, Linux, and Android (iOS coming soon). Free and paid versions.
Individual and enterprise encrypted cloud storage and device backup. Paid version only.
Strong passwords and two-factor authentication are techniques that work to secure your online profiles, banking information, and other online information stored and accessed via the internet. Below are some apps and resources that help you keep your login information safe.