Internet Privacy

Protecting Your Identity Online

Are you aware there are security risks involved in surfing the web? From date miners to hackers, your browser history, online profiles, bank information, and passwords may be visible to the eyes of others. This calls for measures to be taken when protecting your identity online.

Is Your Internet Identity Secure?

According to NSA contractor Edward Snowden, there isn’t enough computer privacy. Author Julia Angwin even said that keeping your internet secure is a bit like being a vegan. She writes about the struggles entailed in deterring the nonstop surveillance that occurs today from the government to hackers, and even businesses who mine for data. This makes keeping your internet identity secure a daily challenge.

Internet Privacy
Credit: Flickr (bekathwia)

Heartbleed Bug

Most recently, an encryption breach called the Heartbleed bug has been categorized among the largest threats to internet security in its history. Its presence has appeared on several major websites and online services such as Facebook and Gmail over the past two years. This bug may have exposed your account information, and anything private such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, etc.

There are several tools you can download which promote internet security. While they may not keep the NSA out, they will create a barrier which hackers and data mining companies cannot penetrate.

Internet Security Tools

Elizabeth Weise, of USA today, writes about some of the tools which can be downloaded onto your computer to keep your internet identity secure. One of these is a browser add-on entitled Ghostery. This will show you a list of the different corporations who are tracking your browsing sessions. You are then provided with an option to allow them to track you, or to block them.

Another program, Disconnect, will take it upon themselves to filter any trackers. It also allows for encrypted communications while you are conducting business online so that your data will be scrambled should a tracker or hacker be watching.

One may even download an anonymous web browser like DuckDuckGo. It doesn’t track your activities like major web browsers that record your history, then present advertisements based upon said history the next time you log on. Tor is another program which is free, and prevents anyone from viewing which websites you visit, and pinpointing your location, according to Edward Snowden.

One security measure which costs money is a Virtual Private Network. It ensures all data will be encrypted and kept out of the eyes of internet peeping Toms.

Something which Google, Chase Bank, and other companies are offering to keep your internet identity secure is two-factor authentication. According to Simson Garfinkel, professor of digital forensics and computer security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, this occurs when an attempt has been made to log into an account from an IP address not typically used. A security message will pop up, and a code will then be sent to one’s cell phone or email account which must be relayed in order to gain access.

Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying Glass

What Else Can I Do?

Still don’t feel like this is enough? Companies who have been affected by security breaches such as the Heartbleed bug have installed security patches, and request users change their passwords. It is always a good idea to change your passwords, and to refrain from using the same password across multiple sites.

Other security measures include encrypting your hard drive through programs like BitLocker or FileValult, and encrypting your email via programs like PGP. Encrypting email does call for the exchange of encryption keys, however it is a good line of defense in protecting your internet identity.


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