We on TE consider ourselves technologically sound people, there is a lot of murky areas surrounds one's identity when it comes to being online. Who is watching or reading what you are doing online. How does my activity on various websites affect my identity. Can I truly protect my identity online.
A simple Google search of your name or some of the handles you use on forums will reveal how popular you are to the online world and can you be vulnerable in the real world if somehow your identity is revealed or connected to you by your online presence.
Steps to take to protect your identity:
1. I P Address: One of the best solutions to protecting your identity online is hiding your I P address while surfing or downloading. Use a reliable VPN service or a proxy service to hide your I P address. Use can use Tor (http://www.torproject.org.in/ ) but a paid service would be ideal, one which doesn't save log files of your activity (VPN service providers can do that )
2. Emails: Have atleast 2 email id's. One should be absolutely personal just for friends and close people. This Id should never be used for anything else except emailing known trustworthy people.
The other Id is what you should be using for everything else. Registering on websites, social networking etc.
I would recommend a 3rd email Id just for banking or financial transactions like online trading etc but that's upto you if you can manage with 2 email Id's
What email service should I go for?
Problem is the free providers like Google's Gmail & Microsoft's outlook or Yahoo is they snoop your emails to be able to present you customized content like Ads. What are they sharing with the government, we just dont know.
Solution: Emails are no longer expensive and cost just a few hundred rupees or $ . Get a paid email service like from thexyz.com or any provider which doesnt snoop your emails.
Want to whistleblow something Try https://www.guerrillamail.com/ . Disposable emails
3. Browser: Chrome, Firefox , Opera. Incognito mode. Forget it. Not safe enough. Use a secure browser like Tor https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en OR SRware https://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php . Takes time to get used to these browsers but you should be good with them in no time.
But if you can't give up one of the popular browsers, use Ghostery https://www.ghostery.com/en/download & protect yourself from trackers which track your usage.
4. Social Networking: With so many social networking sites, it's not only networking you with people around you. It's also networking you as an individual across sites. Cross linking you across sites is a common activity and through login's from one to another reveal you as an individual to these sites to study you and your personality, behaviour, characteristics etc.
Solution: A) Do not link or login one social networking site with another. Use your email Id and create new user ids on these sites. Do not allow cross posting from one site to another.
Why ? You never know which site can be a culprit in the future and share's your data or which site buys another site.
B) Check your settings: Make sure your site privacy settings are secure and that you are not sharing any data with the site. If you are or forced to do so, then sadly you cannot be totally protected. Can you live without such a site. Your call.
5. Passwords: Use 2 or maximum 3 passwords with a combination of atleast 8 letters, numbers & characters. No birthdays, dog's name, girlfriends phone numbers etc. Does this ensure total security. No. But in case of passwords, longer is better. If you can remember a 16 character password, go for it. If you can remember 3 such passwords, you rock !!!
6. Instant messaging : Most IM's are bought or a product of snooping companies so be careful what you are telling someone. Use Pigdin with Tor or proxy settings to protect your online chats with people . Here is a good resource: https://help.riseup.net/en/chat/clients/pidgin
7. Sending Large files online: Although its convenient to use Google drive or dropbox but why not use Onionshare https://github.com/micahflee/onionshare/blob/master/README.md
Again, compatible with Tor. This makes sending large files securely & easily.
8. Mobile devices: Android users can use alternate browsers like Orbot https://guardianproject.info/apps/orbot/& for iOS there is Onion Browser https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/onion-browser/id519296448?mt=8
9. Keep track of tracking cookies. If tracking cookies are on your system, you are being tracked. Tracking cookies is a great way of testing how protected your usage is online.
10. Use Https wherever possible. There is https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere for popular browsers.
There can be many more tips to protect your identity. Bottom line is use limited softwares online and secure your usage online.
Let me know what more is needed to protect yourself & your identity online and is there a complete full proof solution ?
Going off the grid is a pretty good solution but how many can do so in this day & age
Protecting Your Identity Online - A Basic Guide.
We on TE consider ourselves technologically sound people, there is a lot of murky areas surrounds one's identity when it comes to being online. Who is watching or reading what...