The Crash Course in Internet Privacy and Security

Even though I am not certain when that was, it is clear that since my earliest memories I have learned almost all there is about technology and specifically computers. I know that everything from MS DOS and Windows to Ubuntu, Android and building PC’s has been tried and broken.

I find that doing some tasks on computers is almost the same as wearing socks. It’s easy and something I do every day. However, not every person is exactly like me. Some people are reluctant to use technology or don’t want change.

Their privacy is often not protected. Their technology may be complex or too complicated, so they will use products and give information to put themselves at risk.

Today, I want to offer a short crash course on Internet privacy security. Maybe you don’t get much. Perhaps you’ll be able to learn quite a bit. It depends on how tech-savvy and knowledgeable you are. However, you can learn at the very least 1 helpful feature to share with your friends and enjoy more of the great fun that technology offers.

The Protection Layers

At the heart of remaining more secure and private online is what I like to call the 3 Layers Of Protection. These stem from the very first step in Threat Modelling which is to identify who might want to target you or your information and why. The 3 layers are:

  1. Protection against Hackers
  2. Protection Against Companies
  3. Protection against governments

In the past, hackers were mainly a concern. Layers 2 and 3, however, are becoming increasingly important. We see that each layer is more detailed.

Level 1: This layer is primarily about protecting data that’s being transferred over the Internet. This layer is the minimal requirement when you use the Internet. It involves ensuring sites use HTTPS, WiFi networks use WPA2 (or higher encryption) and that your communication methods like email, SMS and telephone calls, are encrypted or minimized. You must also protect your computer’s security from malware, viruses, and other threats.

Level 2: Moving beyond data encryption, we now have total end-to–end encryption. It means only you and your send data can be viewed by the recipient. The service providers (eg Google, Facebook) can’t see your data.

Level 3:This layer deals with hiding or encrypting information while communicating. Sometimes called meta data, it includes information like where you originated from and what kind of communication you used. Skype and web browsing), as well as the type of OS, screen resolution, browser etc.

An Extra Note

People think using Incognito Mode (or Private Mode) in modern web browsers somehow masks traffic. For clarity, assume that your employer can view and track everything you write, see, or do from your computer at work.

No matter what Incognito Mode you use, it doesn’t matter. This will and provide you with protection.

Incognito Mode works best when you think of it as a new browser. After you close it, however, it will not be installed again. The browser still communicates with and receives all data that you have given it. Your work, or anybody else connected through your connection, can view and analyse this data.

Incognito Mode can only erase your browsing history and settings , once it’s closed. That’s all.

It’s and not will stop you working from the fact that you visited seek.com ….. or worse.

Layer 1 – The Basic Minimum

Here are some simple things you can do to help protect yourself against even the most severe threats. Security is a matter of following simple rules and staying true to them.

First and foremost, you need to ensure each website’s passwords have at least 15 characters (anything below that can be brute force within days). They are also not easy to guess. Keeper is a good choice if you are looking to create a password management system. LastPass, Dashlane and Dashlane might work best. Next ensure you:

It doesn’t matter if you do all or most of these things regularly. That will allow you to stay away from the vast majority of frauds, identity thefts or virus’s that exist. Brave will stop most companies and websites from following you, saving any data you have or building detailed profiles. Brave also means that most advertisements will be removed from your computer.

Layer 2 – You vs. the Company

Next, we’ll look at the companies. You might trust whatever company’s product you use (eg Gmail and Slack or a website for hotels), but they often get hacked. They can also leak your data. Therefore, they must delete all of your data.

This is where end to-end encryption steps in. It can not protect all communications, as the company might need some information to deliver its services. However, most conversations like chatting do not need to be recorded.

For those instances, any encrypted messenger app can be used to add that extra level of protection. These protocols allow for things like Sign Messenger and Telegram to not read any of your messages, or even have the data stolen.

Other than chatting with people via a number of E2E-encrypted options, you don’t have much else to do other than stop using these services. But that isn’t always an option.

To book a hotel, for example, you must give your name and credit card details to enable them to charge the bill. E2E encryption cannot protect this information as it would prevent the hotel from seeing your details and thereby preventing them from taking your booking. Your only option is to choose the right hotel provider and then request them to remove your personal data when your stay is finished.

A good idea is to clean out any old accounts, whether they are social media-related or not. When those companies eventually hack your account or sell their database to advertising firms, you can make sure it is gone.

Layer 3 – Sticking it To The Man

It is possible to completely hide your online browsing information. This means that not only can you hide the data you send online (e.g. You username, password, chats or other data) and who it’s being sent to (eg. www.website.com.

But most people won’t worry about this. There are many other reasons. Or maybe you work as a political journalist and live in a country that is oppressive. It could be that you don’t wish the Australian government collecting all your browsing history. They may store this information for up to two years. You can be sure that they do as required. Your ISP, Telstra, Optus and others, are required to keep the following information:

  • You name, address, as well as billing information
  • You can also provide your email and phone numbers.
  • Information about the time, date, duration and purpose of communications
  • Your IP address
  • The exact location of any communication equipment that you are using, for instance the nearest cell tower.
  • Communication type: text, phone, or email
  • Bandwidth refers to the upload/download of data

They’ll store your private information on you for years. It is also available to some absurd agencies including Bankstown City Council Greyhound Racing Victoria, Western Australian Department of Fisheries and the RSPCA. The enormous possible hacking target is it, and likely has been many times already, if historical records are any guide.

No matter your reason for hiding metadata, it’s easy to completely hide every. You can hide browsing data and other information easily from your ISP. There are many to choose from, so while I don’t endorse any of them here, you should make sure you have a paid VPN. Free ones will simply give your data away for advertisers.

A third way to do this is with the TOR Browser. You will find information about HTTS and TOR to mask your data as well as who is responsible in ‘s interactive diagram. TOR will take your request to view a website. It encrypts and sends it via three random nodes on the network. The request for viewing a website will be sent to the site by the third network node.

So the website does not know from where you came, nor your ISP. They don’t even know who you talked to or what communication type was taking place (email, chat etc.).

Down The Rabbit Hole

The following is a short primer on privacy. You can go very deep down the rabbit hole.

Electronic Frontier Foundations Surveillance Self-Defence web site has been rated as one of the best websites for Internet privacy. The site is an independent nongovernmental organization that helps protect your online privacy.

The site provides extensive assistance, guidance and support for anyone who uses the internet to surf.

You can take away nothing from this crashcourse, however you should only focus on four things.

  • Make sure that you have the latest OS on your smartphone/computer.
  • You should ensure that your passwords remain unique across all websites .
  • Brave Browser is available for PCs and Android. iPhone also works with Brave Browser
  • Chat as much as you like over E2E apps, such as signal

These four simple steps will drastically improve privacy and security. You can use the incredible technology we offer in a secure way, that doesn’t let you expose your personal information to thousands of third-parties and allows hackers to steal or modify your identity.

Please share any security or privacy tips you may have in the comments!



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