4 Smart Tips For Protecting Your Online Privacy

February 22, 2015

12:00 pm

Privacy is an incredibly rare commodity in today’s world.  Governments worldwide are known for spying on their citizens' online activity and blocking certain sites; Google is reading your emails and collecting all sorts of private data to share it with the advertisers and online merchants who’d love to sell you even more products and services.

If you’d like to keep your personal information to yourself and avoid as much of it leaking as possible, follow these four simple steps.

1. Use Tor Browser For Surfing The Web



Tor Browser is a free secure browser bundle created on the base of Mozilla Firefox. It directs all your traffic through a multi-layer anonymizing network, thus preventing any form of spying your online activity and collecting data about your physical location. As well as opting for a random IP and location, you can set a country-specific one by simply editing one of the browser files.

So far, Tor Browser has come the closest to true anonymity on the web, however, its major disadvantage is speed. As your request to enter a certain website goes through three computers based in different parts of the world, it may take quite a while till the page fully loads.

2. Opt for DNS Proxy

Once, the Internet used to be a free space where anyone could get instant access to everything. Sadly, it’s no longer true these days as a lot of websites and services placed geo restrictions on their content for certain areas. If you have ever tried to catch up on your favorite series on Netflix while traveling outside US, you do know what I’m talking about.

Besides, loads of online merchants are guilty of using the so-called “dynamic pricing trap” – a technology used for adjusting prices depending on client’s location, shopping and browsing patterns and previous spending history.  For instance, the price of a train ticket from Paris to Lyon will be 20% higher when you are purchasing it from the US, compared to the price shown for France-based users.

To avoid paying more and having instant access to all the sites no matter which part of the world you are in, get a smart DNS proxy. Compared to VPN, Smart DNS proxy is way faster and easier to install as there’s no special software required. Besides, you can use it for multiple devices including your phone, tablet or Smart TV. The speed is fast, the prices are low – what else do you need for unrestricted web browsing?

3. Use a disposable email service



Most online services today request either your email or social media account to sign up.  Sadly, a lot of them collect that data to resell it later on to some fishy marketing corporation who will send you tons of promotions and spam. Recently, I received a call from an insurance company who knew my name, date of birth, email, and city. I later realized that it was taken from one of the online merchants I had an account with.

To avoid getting personal data leaks to 3rd parties, use a set of disposable emails randomly generated for a specific site. My go-to is Guerrilla Mail. Also if you’d like to keep your messaging even more private – pair it with Tor Browser. In that case not even Guerrilla Mail can link your IP address with that disposable email address.

4. Do not leave private data in the cloud

Cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud are super convenient, however not as secure as you may think. A middle-skilled hacker can easily break into your account by using a few social engineering techniques (that’s how celebrity private photos usually leak out) or simply conducting a brute-force attack to pick your password. Also, your data is saved on the company servers, thus any law enforcement official can be granted access to it after obtaining the right paperwork.

If you’d like to keep your data secured, you can either encrypt your data yourself before uploading it to the cloud with free software like BoxCryptor or transfer large files via Tor with Onionshare – the program will create a temporary, anonymous website that is hosted on your computer.  Just give the recipient that .onion web address and they can securely download the file through their Tor Browser.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien