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3 Ways to Improve Your Online Privacy

3 Ways to Improve Your Online Privacy

In today's tech-oriented world, your data is worth more day-by-day. It could be your internet history, deleted emails or chat conversations, just to name a few. Hearing that for the first time, you may not be too impressed. This data seems to be more or less useless. For you, they might be, but for search and social media companies, this information of yours is like currency. Companies collect data for many reasons: to find out more about their users, to target ads or to sell the information they gather.

Have you ever wondered why the prices of your potential flight tickets rise the more you check them out? As your internet history is saved, flight companies can easily see them. They realized that the more interested you are in a particular flight or destination, the higher the price will be given to you by their clever algorithms. Most companies track you constantly through their services so that they can provide you with customized advertisements. That's why you happen to see adverts for the exact products you were searching for or talking about before.

Of course, as our surroundings modernize, we can't completely avoid using modern technologies. Because of that, we have to give out some of our confidential data, like our address, bank account details, or even our current location. This means we are forced to trust these companies. But the choice of what companies we are willing to trust and the kind and amount of data you want to share with them should be fully yours.

As citizens of a democracy, we must defend our ability to communicate freely without fear of surveillance by anyone — whether they are government officials or company executives. The Internet is an essential part of modern life — we would not have one without the other. We will not give up on privacy so that companies can make more money or so that government officials can do their jobs better. There are solutions that will allow us all to benefit from modern technology while preserving our privacy.

While secure data erasure and encryption products like east-tec Eraser and east-tec SafeBit provide one side of the solution to securing your personal data on your PC and making sure it will not fall into the wrong hands, it is vital that you take additional precautions to ensure you do not inadvertently leave your data vulnerable. If you decide to connect your PC to the Internet, there is no way to get perfect protection, but here are a few tips that will mean a significant improvement:

1. Only browse on secure (SSL-enabled) websites

SSL is a type of digital certificate that installs a padlock in your browser and encrypts data sent to and from the website. It's what makes the little padlock you see when you visit a secure site, like one that requires login credentials or payment info.

Put simply, SSL adds an extra layer of security to the transfer of data between your website, your visitor's browser, and any other third-party systems involved. What does this mean? If someone were trying to steal info from your site — like credit card numbers or passwords — they'd have a much harder time.

SSL is a pretty common term these days — but back in 1994, when it was invented by Netscape, SSL was cutting-edge technology. Today, almost all browsers default to HTTPS for secure websites, leaving HTTP behind as an insecure protocol only used by sites without SSL installed.

2. Only use secure messaging apps (apps with E2E encryption)

Since the Snowden revelations about NSA spying, we've all become more aware of the need to encrypt our internet communications. Unfortunately, many people are still unclear about what terms like "encryption" and "E2E encryption" mean and why they should use them.

When you send a message that's not encrypted, it's like sending a postcard; anyone along the way can read whatever you're writing. When you send an end-to-end encrypted message, no one can read it except for the sender and recipient. This means that if someone hacks your email provider or messaging app, or even if the government gets involved and requests access to your messages, those people won't be able to read anything at all. That's because only you and your friends have the private keys needed to decrypt messages, which is exactly how it should be.

Read the fine print: not all encrypted services are E2E. Use messaging apps that have E2E encryption (e.g., Signal, Wire). Encourage your friends and family to switch to an app that has E2E.

3. Use a VPN service

VPNs are arguably your best bet when it comes to protecting your online privacy. While they are not 100% foolproof, they do offer a great deal of protection.

In short, here's how VPNs work: When you connect to the Internet through a VPN, the VPN sets up an encrypted "tunnel" between your computer and the VPN server. Your traffic (everything you do on the Internet) is routed through this tunnel, and no one, including your ISP, can see what's inside it. In addition, because your traffic is encrypted at both ends of the tunnel, your ISP has no way of seeing which websites you visit (or what you do on them).

Some VPNs even make it possible for you to select the location of the server that you want to send your traffic through. You can have the VPN server appear to be located in Japan, Australia, or anywhere else on the globe. If you choose a server located in a country where there is no Internet censorship, then you can browse freely without being blocked by network administrators or government agencies.

You may wonder why people use VPNs if they are not doing anything illegal. The answer is that many people are concerned about their privacy and want to make sure that their browsing history is not shared with their ISPs, which are often required by law to share this data with the government on request.

Many VPN applications are now available for mobile phones and tablets, which makes it easy for regular users to protect their privacy while browsing the web or connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.

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