Do you blindly trust the web ser­vices you use? Even with­out ma­li­cious in­tent, they can still track your ac­tiv­i­ties, build de­tailed profiles or be prone to hack­ing. lists some of the se­cure al­ter­na­tives you can use in­stead

The Economic Times - - Personal Technology -

Cov­er­ing Your Tracks on the Web Pop­u­lar browsers like Chrome and Fire­fox do not of­fer the high­est level of se­cu­rity and pri­vacy. If you want to se­curely surf the web, you need Tor ( https:/tor­pro­ or Epic ( https:// Tor anonymizes data and works over a net­work of ‘hid­den’ re­lay servers — the flip­side is that it of­ten leads to a slower brows­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Epic on the other hand is based on Chromium and is loaded with se­cu­rity and pri­vacy fea­tures in­clud­ing (but not lim­ited to) one-but­ton proxy, built-in ad block­ing and auto dele­tion of cook­ies and track­ers each time you close it. Any search done through the browser is non­trace­able back to the orig­i­nal IP ad­dress.

Chats That Can Never Leak A few years ago, most users didn’t care about se­cure chats — What­sApp, WeChat and oth­ers did not of­fer se­cure chats or en­cryp­tion. How­ever, What­sApp now of­fers end-to-end en­cryp­tion of chats by de­fault. How­ever, there are ded­i­cated apps avail­able that of­fer more ad­vanced pri­vacy fea­tures. We rec­om­mend Tele­gram, Sig­nal and Chat Se­cure. Th­ese also of­fer end-toend en­cryp­tion which means that the chat servers can­not ac­cess your mes­sages and don’t store any of your data. Tele­gram of­fers 256-bit en­cryp­tion and has a fea­ture called ‘Se­cret Chats’ — all mes­sages and me­dia au­to­mat­i­cally get deleted from both par­ties in this mode.

Send Email Like a Govt. Spy Just like chat, the more com­mon email ser­vices like Gmail, Out­look and Ya­hoo mail do not of­fer a 100% se­cure en­vi­ron­ment. Most ser­vices en­crypt mes­sages but they also hold the key to de­crypt the mes­sages. If you are con­cerned about email pri­vacy, you should be look­ing at Pro­ton Mail. Pro­ton Mail of­fers a ba­sic free plan which lim­its you to 500MB stor­age and 150 mails per day. The paid plan is ₹ 285 per

month and gives you 5GB stor­age, a limit of 1000 mails per day and sup­port for use with your own do­main name. Un­like other ser­vices, mails on Pro­ton Mail ac­count can be ac­cessed only by the ac­count holder us­ing a se­cure pass­word. Mes­sages stored on Pro­ton Mail servers can­not be de­crypted by any gov­ern­ment agency. An­other ser­vice called Shaz­zleMail (free for in­di­vid­u­als) con­verts your phone into a mail server — this means your mails are di­rectly de­liv­ered to the re­cip­i­ent with no copies on any server.

A Se­cure Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem If you’re para­noid about se­cu­rity, we’d un­der­stand why you don’t fully trust your op­er­at­ing sys­tem. Take a look at this se­cure op­er­at­ing sys­tem called Tails. Avail­able as a free down­load from https://, Tails can be run from a USB drive or an SD card. While us­ing Tails, all com­mu­ni­ca­tions to the In­ter­net go through the TOR net­work, mak­ing it com­pletely anony­mous. In ad­di­tion, the

OS uses ad­vanced en­cryp­tion for your files, mail and chats. Based on Linux, Tails comes pre­loaded with var­i­ous se­cure ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing a web browser, in­stant mes­sag­ing client, email client, of­fice suite as well as a photo and au­dio ed­i­tor.

A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Search Engine Al­most all search en­gines track ev­ery­thing you do, in­clud­ing search his­tory, build­ing de­tailed (per­sonal) profiles and stor­ing of in­for­ma­tion for bet­ter tar­get­ing. This data is used to show you ads rel­e­vant to re­cent search termsor to of­fer per­son­al­ized search re­sults from the web. If you pre­fer not to have yo u r we b searches t r a c ke d a n d r e c e n t search his­tory used, switch to­ It has in­te­grated WOT (Web of Trust) icons that ap­pear in front of search re­sults to show if the web­site is

safe to ac­cess or not. An­other handy fea­ture called Redi­rect pre­vents shar­ing of search re­sults with sites you visit from the search page. Fi­nally, you can save your pri­vacy pref­er­ences se­curely on the cloud and sync them across de­vices.

Give Your Browser a Pri­vacy Boost Granted, you’ve been us­ing Fire­fox, Sa­fari or Chrome for years — we un­der­stand the re­sis­tance to change. Se­cure browsers do not let you in­stall third party plug-in for ad­di­tional fea­tures. If you are such a user, you can con­tinue us­ing ex­ist­ing Chrome or Fire­fox browsers and just add plug-ins that im­prove the se­cu­rity. Ghostery is one of the best plug-ins avail­able (Chrome, Fire­fox, Opera) — it lets you view web­sites and ser­vices that are track­ing you and lets you block them with a click. An­other plug-in you can check is Pri­vacy Badger (Chrome, Fire­fox, Opera) — it de­tects ads as well as track­ers. You can block them com­pletely or find out whether they’re safe to use.

Get into the habit of chang­ing pass­words. KeePass, LastPass or LogMeOnce can help.

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