Want to keep your traffic hidden from the government? Not keen on having someone snoop through your email? No matter how you feel about email surveillance, it’s still a good idea to keep your information private — not only from prying government eyes, but also from hackers and data miners. How can today’s Internet-addicted privacy buffs protect their data?
Threats to Your Online Privacy
Before you learn how to keep your information private, it’s important to know what you’re up against. Digital surveillance is a hot topic right now, with Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to perform bulk data collection on email and phone records, set to expire in June. It’s hard to tell whether that provision will be renewed or not, but even if 2015 is the year we see surveillance reform, there are still plenty of threats to your privacy.
Have you ever been served up an ad for an embarrassing product or service — maybe corn removal liquid, or hair loss treatment — and wonder how Facebook knew so many intimate details about you? It’s pretty simple: if you’re searching for a way to smooth out your foot lumps, search engines use that information to sell targeted ads. It doesn’t stop at your search bar, though. Some email providers mine your emails and Facebook gets valuable data from your statuses and private messages.
But while targeted advertising is annoying and unsettling, cybercrime is downright dangerous. Consider all the data you keep in your email inbox. If you’ve ever sent a form that includes personal identifying information, you could easily find yourself a victim of identity theft. If you’ve ever sent proprietary intellectual property or sensitive, compliance-driven data (for example, HIPAA-protected PHI), you stand to lose even more in the event a hacker finds out your password.
Don’t go ditching your social media accounts, disconnecting your Internet and moving into a cabin in the woods just yet, though. It’s still possible to keep your information private while staying connected.
Ways to Keep Your Information Private
With a few best practices, you can browse the Internet and send email safely, without worrying about hooded figures peering into your browser or inbox. Most browsers offer a number of privacy and security settings you can configure to your specs, including options to tell websites you don’t want to be tracked, phishing and malware warnings, cookie restrictions and the ability to avoid automatic downloads. And obviously, make sure your password is strong, complex and frequently updated — “abc123” won’t cut it.
But if it’s email you’re worried about, there’s a simple, powerful way to keep your information private: email encryption.
The Importance of Data-Centric Email Encryption
Encryption is one of your best weapons against unauthorized access to your data. By rendering your email messages and attachments unreadable and unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t possess the encryption key (i.e., the intended email recipient), email encryption keeps your sensitive data between you and the person you’re messaging. That means no interloping email service provider, government spy or hacker can get to your email, unless they have the encryption key.
The best part? It doesn’t have to be difficult.
Keep Your Information Private with Virtru
With Virtru, client-side email encryption is as easy as installing a browser add-on and hitting a switch. Seriously — that’s it. No tech genius needed, though even tech geniuses will be happy not to have to mess with PGP ever again. And because Virtru works seamlessly with the email provider you already have, you don’t have to make any drastic changes in your email habits to keep your information private. Ready for a safer email experience? Download Virtru today for free.