My State of 2019 – Privacy/Security

There is a ton I could write about privacy and security on the Internet. We have all heard the stories of data breaches, hacks, etc. Let’s talk about some of the areas that I think are important.

Tools

There are definitely some very simple steps that most people can do to help immensely with their privacy and security on the Internet:

  1. Don’t reuse passwords

    This is the easiest thing you can do. Use a password manager like 1Password (my choice), LastPass, or Dashlane. These all enable you to generate strong passwords for your accounts and make sure that you only have to remember one, the login for the manager. They also autofill forms on websites, etc. Some, like 1Password, also let you store important documentation, credit card info, etc. securely.
  2. Run a malware/virus scanner

    I use Bitdefender Total Security on my Mac and my Windows machines. One of the things Bitdefender does that I think is important is protects your most used directories (like Documents) from ransomware attacks. If you’re a Mac user and think you’re immune to malware or viruses you’re wrong. Get a decent scanner.
  3. Use a web tracker blocker

    My personal preference is AdGuard. On my Mac and my Windows machine I run the system-wide version so I don’t have to maintain custom rules in more than one place. It also means that email gets the same protection. Some people might not be comfortable with that because everything flows through the AdGuard application. I trust them but you might not. If not just get the browser-based version that is free.

    Safari and Firefox both have pretty extensive tracker blocking built-in. Use it.
  4. Do regular backups of your system both on and off-site

    I think of this from the standpoint of data security, but I don’t mean security against attackers, just making sure I am able to restore important data at any moment. It is important to do both on and off-site backups! If you only do on-site and there is a fire you could easily lose important things. Pay for Backblaze. It is worth every penny for your peace of mind. It is pretty much set-and-forget and just does it’s thing in the background.

    At a bare minimum do an on-site backup. Get a cheap external hard drive and use Time Machine on the Mac or Windows 10 Backup and Restore. At the very least you’ll have something if your machine crashes.

Practices

I’ve been concentrating on tools for the most part but there are a couple of simple things to do as well that don’t involve installing any tools or spending money on them. These are all easy practices to follow:

  1. Don’t ever respond to emails that ask you to click to a website and enter a password. If it seems fishy call the company in question and find out if the email is real or not.
  2. Look at who the email is from. If it says its an email from Microsoft but the return email is yourealoser@wellstealyourinfo.com you can be pretty sure it’t not really from Microsoft. Again, if the email seems fishy don’t respond!
  3. Don’t install web browser extensions you don’t need.

There is a lot of crap out there that will hijack the browser. Don’t install anything that doesn’t have a bunch of good reviews and that seems suspicious.

Data Brokers and Opting Out

One last thing, do yourself a favor and go here. The amount of data out there on you easily available for a small price is truly astounding. One of the things I did in 2018 was go through a bunch of sites like Spokeo and remove my listings. It was a lot of work but worth it. There are services like DeleteMe from Abine that claim to do this work for you at a cost. I can’t speak to whether or not they are effective because I did the work myself. But Abine also provides a nice DIY Guide to the most common data brokers and how to remove your listing from them.

For me privacy and security have been very important so it’s been the one area in 2019 that I don’t need to worry about moving forward in 2020. My routines have already been stable in this area and I will continue to practice good privacy and security practices moving forward.

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