How to Stay Safe Online

How to Stay Safe Online

Tools and tips to keep your online information secure.

Phishing, hacking, malware, Senate bills… the Internet is a wonderful place but it has its dark side too. Of what we can control, the most effective antidote to online perils is common sense: not downloading unknown attachments, not submitting personal information to suspicious websites and watching out for emails that ask for financial information. The tips and tools below aren’t guaranteed to ensure you stay safe and retain your online freedom, but they’ll help you fend off the online boogey-men.

Proxy servers

Using proxy servers, you can hide your IP address when browsing online. This is useful for protecting your privacy and getting around website bans in a certain country. To find a proxy server, simply type “proxy server list” into a search engine and sift through the results. When you use a proxy server, any data you sent goes through this server and is usually unencrypted. This means the service could potentially view data like usernames and passwords, so you need to make sure you’re using a reputable service to keep your information safe.

Different types of proxy servers offer different levels of anonymity, so if you want to be completely anonymous you need to be aware of which type you’re using. Transparent proxies can help get around website bans but will still reveal your original IP address. If you want to stay anonymous, make sure you use either a distorting proxy, anonymous proxy or high anonymity proxy, which either provide an incorrect version of IP address or hide it altogether.

Popular proxy servers include:

Tor

hidemy.biz

Anonymouse

Anonymous search engines

Regular search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing might help you find the information you’re looking for, however they also collect personal data in the process. Details these search engines record might include your IP address, the search terms you use, your browsing habits and your location. This helps companies like Google build a personal profile to help them target adverts more effectively, among other things.

If you don’t like the sound of your information being stored to be used by whoever whenever, using an anonymous search engine will give you added browsing privacy. Not only do these services delete your browsing history and location information from their servers, but some of them also offer proxy services, meaning you can visit websites in the search results without giving them your real IP address.

Some of the best-known websites that offer anonymous browsing are:

StartPage

Ixquick

DuckDuckGo

Hide My Ass! is a hybrid service specifically designed for use with Google. With HMA, you can still use Google as a search engine, but through HMA’s proxy service so your location information won’t be stored.

Email Encryption

We’ve already talked about email encryption in more detail on ZeroPaid, but it’s worth mentioning here as it’s a simple tool that can keep your data safe online. When we send plain-text emails, almost anyone can read them, and encrypting emails that contain personal data or sensitive information ensure that they are only read by the intended recipient. Use a browser plug-in, download software, or sign up for a special account with a service like Hushmail.

Anti-virus software

Anti-virus software is a must for any computer connected to the Internet, especially PCs. It might seem like a common-sense move, but it’s still worth emphasizing how important it is to have good quality up-to-date anti-virus software. Macs are almost totally unaffected by viruses; some users say that it’s totally unnecessary to have anti-virus software. It’s still technically possible to infect a Mac, however, and with plenty of free anti-virus software options for this operating system, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Many anti-virus software companies offer free versions of their software, which provide basic protection against virus and malware infections. These include:

Avast!

Sophos

AVG

For more comprehensive protection, including firewalls, protection of your details when online shopping and email protection, you might need to upgrade to paid versions of the software. Popular anti-virus and online protection packages include:

Norton

McAfee

Kaspersky

Avast!

 

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