5 Quick Steps to Start Encrypting Your Life

Enable two-factor authentication for your email

Your email provides access to your entire life. If your email account is compromised, any connected accounts would be as well. As such, securing your email account is the first line of defense in protecting your information. The first (and easiest) way to do this is to enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication means that whenever you log into a new browser (or every time you log into any browser, depending on your settings), a passcode will be sent to a connected device in order to allow access to your account. This ensures that unless an attacker also gains access to another one of your devices, your account will remain secure.

 

To enable two-factor authentication for Google accounts, visit myaccount.google.com > Sign-in & Security > 2-step Verification. Only Outlook accounts with an attached Microsoft account can enable two-factor authentication at account.microsoft.com > Security Basics > More security options > Two-step verification > Set up two-step verification. Unfortunately, this means Chatham Outlook accounts cannot be secured with two-factor authentication.

 

Apple users can also enable two-factor authentication to secure their Apple ID and any associated devices and backups. To do so, log in at appleid.apple.com, then scroll down to Security > Edit > Two-factor authentication. This will also alert you if and where your Apple ID is in use.

 

Use a secure passcode for your phone (and turn off Touch ID)

For many smartphone users, Touch ID and other fingerprint identification services are convenient and seemingly secure ways to unlock your phone with just a touch. However, when it comes to the law, Touch ID is actually a security risk. While you cannot be forced to give up a passcode, both the police and a court can make you use your thumbprint to unlock your phone. Additionally, most phones only allow around 10 failed passcode attempts before locking the device. As such, selecting a secure passcode is the best option for securing your phone.

 

Encrypt your hard drive

Encrypting your hard drive will protect your information from being accessed by anyone without the password you set during the setup process. This will provide another line of defense to protect any sensitive information stored on your computer. However, most people don’t need to encrypt their entire hard drive, as doing so can slow down your system and not all files need to be encrypted. Both Windows and MacOS have built in file encryption.

 

To learn how to set up BitLocker for Windows, visit this link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4028713/windows-turn-on-device-encryption

To learn how to set up FileVault for MacOS, visit this link: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204837

 

Install Opera or Tor

Everyone has likely used Incognito or another “anonymous” mode in the web browser of their choice, but no browser is truly anonymous. Chrome’s Incognito mode only prevents your browsing history from being saved but does nothing else to secure your browsing experience. As such, a browser such as Opera or Tor is a more secure option. A good choice for casual users, Opera provides a host of security and privacy options, including a built-in VPN (virtual private network). Although not foolproof, VPNs provide the best way to secure your online presence by creating a safe and private connection to transfer data. VPNs can also mask your location. Opera’s built-in VPN is not the best in the business, but it’s a useful tool for casual browsers. For more information on setting up Opera, visit Opera’s website: https://www.opera.com/help/tutorials/intro/.

 

Tor (“The Onion Router”) is the most secure browser option (though it is only as safe as the system running the browser). Tor gets its name from the multiple types of security it uses to obscure your online presence and information. Its setup is more complicated than that of a normal browser due to the necessary steps of configuring Tor to your specific type of network and privacy settings. However, for the user truly concerned about internet privacy, Tor is the way to go. For more information on downloading and setting up Tor, check out this article: https://securityinabox.org/en/guide/torbrowser/windows/ and the Tor Project website: https://www.torproject.org/download/download#warning.

 

Ditch Google for DuckDuckGo

Google tracks an immense amount of your data and internet browsing. Most people have probably experienced a hint of this when Google shows you a slew targeted ads… for a product you purchased a month ago. That’s just a small example of the data Google collects and uses, however. It is possible to stop some of the tracking (Go to My Account > Activity Controls), but one of the easiest ways is to switch search engines. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not track your searches. While it does not have as many items categorized as Google, you can also use DuckDuckGo to make encrypted Google searches by using Google in front of your searches.  

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