In this day and age, we spend the majority of our time online. We store some of our most important information on the internet such as our bank accounts, important documents, or just general data we do not want to be shared. To fix this there are a few steps you can take to help mask your identity online:
- Using a secured web browser.
- Creating strong passwords.
- Avoiding sketchy websites.
Using a Secured Web Browser
Our web browsers determine what information gets shared with companies and corporations. For example, in Google Chrome, google sends information about what sites we visit, what we say, what we spend the most time looking at, and even more to advertisers. All of our information is packaged up and sent out to “cater to us”. This is not always a bad thing. However, when too much information is shared, a small slip-up could have it in the wrong hands. For example, back when I used to play League of Legends, my account was hacked. They logged in and started playing ranked games while using my RP. This is because of a data breach where someone found my leaked information. Choosing a more private web browser or search engine can help limit the amount of information distributed.
The best search engine to use is Duck Duck Go for privacy purposes. They do not collect any data regarding the user and provides complete anonymity. They cannot even tell how many people use their search engines because nothing is collected. Unless participating in heavy research into the last pages of Googles searches, then Duck Duck Go should be your primary search engine.
The best web browser to use for privacy is LibreWolf. This application is entirely open-sourced and is forked from Firefox. Therefore, you can go into the files and see everything that LibreWolf does. Nothing can be hidden from the user in this browser. It comes pre-loaded with Duck Duck Go as a primary search engine, and Ad Block. This way, you can visit less commonly known websites, and random Ads will not inflict malware onto your computer. If you care about your privacy on the web, this browser is heavily recommended.
Creating a Strong Password
We use our passwords to log in to everything on the internet. A common mistake is to use the same password for every service. After an alert from Google Chrome, my password was compromised 81 times because it was the same one I have been using for years. After seeing this my perspective changed and I realized I need to change them. You are better off using randomly generated passwords and storing them in a password manager with multiple factored authentication. Think about it this way, if someone gets a hold of your one password, all of your accounts are compromised.
This leads to a question about how to create a strong password. My best recommendation is to randomly generate it with a sequence of characters, numbers, and symbols. However, some people find this inconvenient and hard to remember. I would advise you not to use any common information about you, such as your birthday. Additionally, try to think of something hard to be traced, and combine it with symbols and numbers. Therefore, it is remember-able and hard to crack. There are a variety of websites online that will test the strength of your password.
Avoiding Sketchy Websites
When going deeper into the web with lesser-known websites it is easy to pick up malware. For example, researching into other countries, some of the websites are a little sketchy. They could have advertisements, or try to trick you into stealing your data. Certificate Authorities are a great way to see if a website has been approved. If it begins with “https://” then it is most likely safe. It has been approved by CA’s and has its own TLS certificate to improve safety.
What if a website is not approved, but it must be visited? In this case, I highly recommend a VPN or an Ad Blocker. Ad Block is useful because it ensures there are no pop-up ads or scams that will try to steal your information. This also will make your browsing experience much smoother. If you use LibreWolf this extension comes pre-installed, but on Google Chrome you can find it in the Web Store for free.
Although some may find it extreme, I recommend a VPN when doing a lot of web searching. This is because it will mask your IP and make it harder to track you. Make sure you research free VPNs because a lot of them will take your information and sell it off on the dark web. Therefore, make sure the one you use is commonly trusted. It is a bit of a hassle, but the extra security measures make it so much harder to be exposed.
Everyone deserves a private internet experience, no one should bear the risk of being exposed online. To protect yourself, download LibreWolf and use Duck Duck Go as your primary search engine. Then use randomly generated passwords, stored in a private password manager. Then download AdBlock and a VPN, and you should be all set. I hope you all can use some of these tips to stay safe.