Online Privacy (class from Feb. 28th)

spyware

Today in class the professor dived into the negative side of the web involving its privacy issues with online services and chat applications, with some tips on how to protect ourselves and stay alert.

He showed us this powerful video that shows us how not so private our internet lives are.

The video made us realize how our entire lives, pictures, events and secrets are up online and that anyone can know anything about you just by tracking your internet profiles and activities.

Here’s some advice the professor gave us to protect ourselves and stay vigilant:

  1. Webcams

    So first off, instead of starting with online protection, which we’ll get to that in a sec, let’s talk about the piece of hardware that’s sitting directly in front of our faces every day  (assuming your PC or laptop has it) and it’s the webcam. You may think that just because the light on your webcam is turned off, it means you’re completely safe and no one is watching — well, not necessarily. Hackers can find a way to access your webcam without turning on its lights and with no indication that it’s on. After that, they are able to see you and hear you  without you seeing or hearing them.A good way to counter this is by leaving a piece of tape on the lens at all times. Or if you want to be fancy, I actually use a webcam lid that came with my external webcam. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to prevent others from hearing the audio that your webcam or computer picks up, unless you have an external webcam, then you can just disconnect it completely.
  2. Websites 

    Whenever you enter a website, make sure there’s a lock icon next to the site name in the search bar. This means that the website is encrypted and protected. Also, a site that has the letters “https” (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) in the search bar is important. Here are a few tools for web protection:Use an extension for your browser like “disconnect.me” which lets you visualize and block the invisible websites that track you.For a good protected email, use ProtonMail. All emails are secured automatically with end-to-end encryption. This means even they cannot decrypt and read your emails. As a result, your encrypted emails cannot be shared with third parties.Lastly, for a protected browser, I recommend Opera. Their latest update has a built-in ad blocker, battery saver, stops tracking, changes your virtual location and free VPN (Virtual Private Network).

  3. Chat Applications 

    There are several chat applications out there, and the one that people often talks about the most is WhatsApp. Luckily, if you use this one yourself, you’re already pretty secured since this app has encrypting chat features.But if you don’t use WhatsApp and you’re looking for more safe options, you can also try out Signal. It’s a secure chat application that lets you send messages all with complete privacy. The server never has access to any of your communication and never stores any of your data. Everything is always end-to-end encrypted and engineered in order to keep your communication safe.

Hope these tips were able to help you become more aware of the privacy protection of the internet. We love the internet, it’s a big world filled with exciting places to learn, find and play, but we must be careful and stay vigilant at all times, because it all may come with a price.

“The day we lose our privacy, is the day we lose it forever.”
-Antonio Vantaggiato

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