Once upon a time, your biggest threat from the Internet was the occasional cyber criminal or an overdose of cat videos.
Today, someone or something watches virtually every step we take on the Web. Here’s how to make the Web a bit more private.
We want to know everything about you
By now, most Internet users know that online services are constantly gathering information about us. Google and Bing know what we search for and what we might buy. Facebook wants to know who our friends are, what we read and watch, what we do for fun, and probably even our politics. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and other carriers know to whom we talk and text. And, as has been extensively reported of late, the NSA apparently wants to know everything that these companies know.
It might seem that privacy is going the way of the silent film and there’s nothing we can do about it. But just as you can still enjoy silent films, you can also reclaim at least part of your Internet privacy — and do so without going off the grid. By changing a few habits and adding some additional software, you can hide much of your Web activity from those many prying eyes.
The cost of increased Internet privacy is convenience. When using the following techniques, services, and apps, signing in to websites won’t be automatic, some sites won’t look as nice on your screen, and potentially annoying popups will force you to decide what you want to allow to run in the background.
One thing I won’t cover here is email privacy. It’s a much more difficult topic. Internet email standards make privacy a near impossibility. We know that email services and intelligence organizations such as the NSA gather information about your messages; even though we’re not sure whether they actually read the text, it’s not difficult to do so. If you want tips on keeping the content of messages secure, see the Aug. 8, 2013, article, “Send email that only the recipient can read.”
Again, here’s some help for reducing your exposure while working on the Net.