Safe Guard your identity and space online

With every aspect of one’s life being highly susceptible to the nuances of the net, there is a need to address the privacy of anyone. It is somehow becoming the modus operandi of large media networks, respective governing bodies and many other agencies that provide services to track each measure we take online. This rather invasive scrutiny can have its bearing on anyone with an iota of respect for what they do, be it a person trying to lift the curtains on the unseen or a political nonconformist. The great news is that there are tools that help you curb the actions of these scrutinizing ways of these bodies.

Here below is the measure that you can take to secure your space and online usage to a large extent. There are ways that are significantly extreme when compared to the other means, but it only assures you a protection against the prying eyes that troll your data for information.

OTR Encryption

For someone who is peeved and has anxiety over personal messages being looked at, you can try Off-the-Record Messaging for an extra level of safety. What it does is encrypts the line of communication, persists on correct validation to the account, does not allow anyone else to observe this channel, and also safeguards you from any danger of being compromised later in time. Adium is a tool that all Mac users can use for it already come with the OTR function. OTR plug-in for Pidgin  is suggested for all Windows and Linux users.

Signal

Our personal interactions and communication via our mobiles are sacrosanct in nature and needs to be kept away from prying demographics. It is clear that the governing bodies anywhere are steering towards a somewhat communistic reach when they show no respect for the individual spaces. To combat this aspect Signal encrypts calls, chats and even videos and provides a system which makes it necessary that you verify each of your contacts. Signal is a tool that comes highly recommended by Edward Snowden and the EFF, for it puts a plug on the snooping and is iOS user-friendly and you will find that family and friends will love and prefer the Android.

HTTPS Everywhere

SSL is still relevant and significant in keeping a check on your Web traffic secure form scrutiny; this is despite the infamous security issues. SSL is the one thing you need to resort to, to keep your business thriving and away from potentially harmful people who try to pry for information. But, alas not all website out there support the tool. And there is always the glitch of SSL still being flawed in encrypting connections, however, the Electronic Frontier Foundation intends on to bring a rapid change to this aspect. You may notice that the HTTPS everywhere browser extension that comes along with EEF thrusts SSL on various website. This wonderful offering can be optimally utilized by those who use Firefox, Chrome, and Opera to safeguard the web traffic while maintaining privacy.

Certbot

Yes, the uses of HTTPS links are significant to protect users, but many of us often scatter information about our personal lives online. The one thing detrimental is to be aware of the SSL functionality is done the right way. Here is where Certbot comes into play. You can now avail of these automated tools to switch on HTTPS to maintain your site – this is the genius of the people at EEF.

 

Privacy Badger

 

Give EFF’s Privacy Badger a shot at jamming people who track your move online, which is, of course, handy if you go for a Popeil-esque way of engaging your web traffic. This set up can be used by Opera, Firefox, and Chrome, and what it does is scan your every move and habits while browsing to decline any tracking attempts in the future by design. Generating a list of blocked content automatically will enhance your browse quality and you needn’t have to physically block trackers. You can go one step further by configuring this add-on feature to immobilize WebRTC tracking also.

 

GnuPG

One main aspect of our interaction that is constantly facing a deficit in security is the Email. The eeriest fact is that your Email has the potential to be caught before reaching the person, even if you have connected the email server via an SSL connection. This requires a robust layer of encryption. GnuPG  or anything like it, when used by both sender and receiver, prevent this breach of privacy. Although there may be the possible vulnerabilities that creep up, any leeway to secure your email is better than none at all.

Tor Browser

 

Tor Browser is the way to go if you choose to be unidentified while browsing. To enable that level of anonymity it engages a large network of computers to channel your Web Traffic and many layers of encryption. This tool is very viable for people who blow covers on unscrupulous acts or if you are deviant of political views and need the layer of privacy. Customized fork of Firefox instantly connects to the Tor network, which adds a browser to enhance privacy. While this deal has all you need to ensure the successful use of Tor, you must ensure to flip your surfing behavior to keep the veil of privacy intact. Remember for good reason that this isn’t a magic bullet and one must follow the Tor warnings.

 

VPN

 

It would be advisable to get a VPN solution like TorGuard or Private Internet Access if you’re hell-bent on sustaining your secrecy.  The safeguard isn’t granted with precision but it masks your online activities, nonetheless. The web traffic from your end is unreadable to the prying eyes of authorities, as it tucks away your real IP address. The benefits you get from “stealth VPNs” is great even if you have your country on the lookout for VPN traffic. The VPN facilities by TorGuard come at no extra charge, and it allows no intrusions or government discovery. VPN’s are your best shot at avoiding censorship and spying if you have authority heads that cage your freedom.

 

DNS Leak Testing

An important thing to note is the privacy is not completely secure even through a VPN morphing your IP address because certain elements can always be picked up through the DNS traffic. A sigh of relief to know you can easily gauge when your configuration giving away your DNS information. You need run the extended tests of DNSLeakTest.com. When you discover that results are showing any third-party DNS service like TorGaurd, it means you are good to go. But if it shows you the DNS info of ISP’s that means you have a DNS leak. To avoid this just follow the steps given on the “How to fix a DNS leak” page and do the test again to ensure everything is under control.

 

Virtual machines

Third parties won’t just stop at getting to you through the browser, which is a magnet for prying eyes. Authorities that are on the constant prowl viewing contrabands can pick up even seemingly insignificant PDFs and files. Please use a virtual machine to view and open files and thwart any intrusion on your privacy. One thing to do is to configure the Linux distribution tool after you have put in all your favorites and then store a snapshot of it your VM. Your next move would be to download the files you need and switch off your virtual machine’s reach to the internet. You can open these files when you are certain beyond doubt that your VM is off the internet. You can take what you need from the file and shut it down. Since you already have a snapshot ready the next file will be a breeze to view.

Tails Live Operating System

 

By booting up a live OS from a CD or USB stick you will be taking the privacy above the tame VM solution. Tails are built by design to protecting your space and identity; however, Knoppix and Ubuntu are viable choices for everyday use. What Tails bring to the table is that it instinctively routes your traffic via Tor, it has built-in encryption tools for IM and email, and it will not mix with any of the OS installations that are already there. You still can’t really throw caution to the wind even though it is a terrific all-inclusive package that is a no-brainer. You can still be spied on even by a keylogger if you are using this on a shared PC – so do not throw away those Tor rules just yet.

Blocking Third-Party Cookies

Advertisers deliberately use third-party cookies to keep abreast of your browsing habits. Something to make note of is that if you go to a couple of sites using the same advertising service, it is fair to say that they have tabs on you. But you have the option of turning off tracking cookies that are levied by most Web browsers. This, of course, is not a remedy to curtail the issue, but it does diminish the most popular ways used by advertisers to construct profiles based on the usage.

Blocking Location Data

 

What is relevant today is the use of location data by many sites to bring in precise service, and provide for specified advertisements. An interesting aspect of how the same techniques predominant in mapping applications that have a validated thought process for collating location data can be used in identifying a person. It’s in the best interest of everyone that turning off the location data at all times is wisely recommended for any good browser allows you to slip in and off location. A cautionary measure of allowing the website to intimate you before collecting the location data must be taken.The glitch is that geolocation data that is IP-based is easily pliable and one must show caution to this fact. What you must know and constantly remind yourself of is that if you browse the net sans a proxy or VPN, you are asking for some serious trouble, as you potentially display your IP to servers. Don’t go ballistic and get anxiety attacks over this fact, but it is better to have the knowledge of the odds you face when you’re ranting about power or blowing a whistle on the NSA.

 

Do Not Track

Browsers can alternately send the “Do not track” HTTP header which is an optional message to Web servers. It’s a no-brainer to enable on the browser setting, but its reach is sparse. The Web server must be set to regard this trigger for it to function. One can’t expect it to shield you like a fort against trackers, for there is no strong obligation that any website must adhere to this setting. While you don’t stand to lose much with this, the concern is that it will be an extra data point for browsers to fingerprint. Since many use it, there is no real reason to hold back.

 

Plug-In Management

Do you know plug-ins can be used to hamper your privacy, even though you configure your browser to hide your identity? Stay clear of running plug-ins if your secrecy is of dire importance. This is a bit of a conundrum because many websites become inoperable. A hybrid approach can be used to resolve this. You must set up your browser to check for your consent to run plug-ins. Sandboxed plug-ins need to be running. NSA can get your data with a rogue plug-in and even though this is likely to be considered a security issue it is still advisable. While other browsers get tough to ban un-sandboxed plug-ins, Chrome makes it easy to configure and opt for this setting. The application called Sandboxie allows Windows users run their browsers inside it, this is to enable the rather primitive browsers to enjoy its benefits.

 

JavaScript Blocking

It certainly is discerning to know that a sophisticated scripting language like JavaScript can be pitched against you. It has the ability to take every minute detail of your system to any Web server. Details that can ascertain which screen size you use, or the plug-ins that you have enabled, this tiny graphic details can act as homing devices to any authority or advertiser lurking around in the background. It does not get any better when unpatched JavaScript discoveries can be a catalyst for tricking your browser to deal out more information. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by disabling JavaScript altogether if you need your privacy. Another dilemma beats this, as most website relies on JavaScript for its central functions. NoScript  is extensions that will give your Web browser a sense of flexibility because it allows you to physically manage which domains can use JavaScript. By doing this you can ensure you use only the domains and web pages you trust.

Thwart Search Engine Tracking URLs

It sure is a big concern for your privacy when the gnawing fact of Google making money by playing tracker for selective ads. The DuckDuckGo offers a good measure to keep this at bay, but would you be willing to compromise on the quality of the search results on Google? You can avoid the annoying URL trackers very easily. Google loads a URL at the word go for easier tracking when you simply click on a URL at first. Copying the link from Google is far worse for its windy, unpolished tracking links instead of the URL you need. Do away with the unnecessary by just making use of the Firefox extension called Searchlinkfix.

 

 

Browser Leak Testing

If you notice that your browser is divulging information that is personal, go to BrowserLeaks.com, and you will be able to see all of the information your browser is revealing. While the tool set isn’t comprehensive, it does prove to be a viable factor in determining whether your security and privacy measures are functional.

Panopticlick

Based on how you configure the browser and your browsing behavior, agencies and governing bodies might still stand a chance to identify this by a few telltale signs. Panopticlick is a tool that aids in finding out how unique your browser’s fingerprint really is. Electronic Frontier Foundation owns and operates this nifty tool, which promptly lets you know what you have showcased to the cyber world.

Multiple Email Addresses

Using a number of email addresses when you sign up for user accounts across the Web, will thwart third – parties off you back. Use disposable email accounts from sites like Mailinator or YopMail, for throwaway accounts you might create. Be cautious when you create these throwaway accounts though because anyone can access it. It would be wise to create many free email accounts and configure email forwarding to filter all these messages into a single inbox when you want to keep up genuine accounts on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. These steps are tedious but the bonus has to know which site is divulging your details to ad junkies.

Justified Paranoia

The topic of internet security  is of epic proportion and you need to do some reading  to stay safeguarded in every aspect. We are all vulnerable to flawed technology and stealthy social engineering, even though some of us show such extreme measures of caution. Don’t be fooled by the perception that you have nothing to hide and it is relevant to enjoy online secrecy. It is never easy to accept the fact the NSA and your ISP is tracking your every move. It is your privilege to browse and look for what you want. That being said, it’s time to get wise protect yourself.

 

About the author

Asif Amod

I am a webtrepreneur, full stack developer and a technology evangelist. I have been coding from a young age. I also speak to databases and make servers do what I say, I am passionate about continuous learning. I thrive on challenges that require lateral thinking - no matter what language or technology. I have founded and Co-founded a number of startups and have created SaaS web applications for different industries. I am currently open to discussing and explore other opportunities.

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By Asif Amod

About Me

I am a webtrepreneur, full stack developer and a technology evangelist. I have been coding from a young age. I also speak to databases and make servers do what I say, I am passionate about continuous learning. I thrive on challenges that require lateral thinking – no matter what language or technology. I have founded and Co-founded a number of startups and have created SaaS web applications for different industries. I am currently open to discussing and explore other opportunities.

Member of The Internet Defense League

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