Pro­tect your­self on­line

Boost pri­vacy and se­cu­rity when us­ing the in­ter­net.

APC Australia - - Superguide Secure Your Digital Ecosystem -

Now let’s make your in­ter­net con­nec­tion more se­cure, start­ing with your DNS server. This is used to trans­late web ad­dresses into their phys­i­cal IP ad­dresses. Nor­mally, your DNS server is pro­vided by your ISP, but it’s not the best choice for per­for­mance and se­cu­rity rea­sons. Al­ter­na­tives such as OpenDNS are faster, more reli­able and, cru­cially, ap­ply more se­cu­rity checks to val­i­date web ad­dresses. With OpenDNS, you can sign up at its web­site ( www.opendns. com) for things like parental con­trols and iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion.

Al­ter­na­tively, log in to your router, lo­cate where its DNS set­tings are stored, and then change them to the fol­low­ing ad­dresses: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. The ef­fect will be im­me­di­ate. If you lose your con­nec­tion, check that you’ve added them cor­rectly.

If you have any de­vices you use away from home, you can change their DNS set­tings to OpenDNS, too — in the case of a Win­dows 10 PC, you need to type “net­work” into the Search box and click ‘View net­work con­nec­tions’. Dou­bleclick your adapter’s en­try and click Prop­er­ties, then se­lect ‘In­ter­net Pro­to­col Ver­sion 4 (TCP/IPv4)’ and click Prop­er­ties. Se­lect ‘Use the fol­low­ing DNS server ad­dresses’ and en­ter 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 into the two boxes, then click OK.

SE­CURE WIRE­LESS CON­NEC­TIONS

When you’re on the go, it’s tempt­ing to con­nect to any pub­lic wire­less hotspot, even ones that don’t ask you for a pass­word. The prob­lem is, th­ese are of­ten com­pletely open, al­low­ing any­one to eaves­drop on you. That’s where a VPN comes in.

A VPN cre­ates a ‘tun­nel’ through a pub­lic net­work, that en­ables you to con­nect to the in­ter­net, with all the traf­fic to and from your de­vice en­crypted. If you just want to browse the web, in­stall the Opera web browser ( www.opera.com), which in­cludes its own VPN. Look for the VPN but­ton in your Ad­dress Bar (you can en­able it via ‘Menu > Set­tings > Pri­vacy & se­cu­rity’). Click it, flick the switch to ‘On’ to en­crypt your web brows­ing. If you want to widen VPN sup­port to all your net­work traf­fic, the sim­plest so­lu­tion is to in­stall Cy­berGhost VPN ( www.cy­berghostvpn. com), which can en­crypt your en­tire con­nec­tion. The free ver­sion is un­lim­ited, but slow — pay the US$10.99 monthly fee for faster per­for­mance.

MORE SE­CURE WEB BROWS­ING

Your in­ter­net con­nec­tion may now be se­cure, but you can still do more. Opera comes with its own built-in ad blocker, which can help you avoid ad­verts as well as mal­ware, but if you are us­ing an­other browser, in­stall the Ad­block Plus plugin in­stead.

It’s also a good idea to con­nect se­curely to web­sites when you can, us­ing the ‘https://’ pro­to­col rather than the in­se­cure ‘http://’ one. Re­mem­ber­ing this is tricky, so in­stall the open-source Smart HTTPS add-on, and it will try to con­nect se­curely.

Half of the trick of stay­ing safe on­line lies in avoid­ing dodgy web­sites. While web browsers are smarter at de­tect­ing and di­vert­ing you from sites that are known to be dan­ger­ous, there’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment. See what web-fil­ter­ing tools your se­cu­rity soft­ware of­fers in the form of a browser tool­bar and use it to search the web in­stead of Google.

Sim­i­larly, be care­ful with soft­ware down­loads — get them from a rep­utable web­site and scan the file with your anti-mal­ware tool be­fore run­ning it. Ex­er­cise sim­i­lar cau­tion with browser add-ons — re­view each one be­fore you in­stall it, and pe­ri­od­i­cally check which add-ons have been in­stalled, re­mov­ing any you no longer need or recog­nise.

It’s a sim­i­lar story with email. Avoid click­ing any links and in­stead type the URL into your web browser di­rectly to en­sure you end up go­ing where you think you should. You should also scan email at­tach­ments be­fore open­ing them, and em­ploy the ser­vices of tools such as Mail­washer ( www.mail­washer. net) or PopTray ( www.poptray.org) to screen mes­sages be­fore they land.

Email­ing some­one is akin to send­ing a post­card — any­one can read it. If you use Thun­der­bird, check out the step-by-step guide to find out how to en­crypt email.

OpenDNS’s servers of­fer a safer, more reli­able way to browse the web.

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