Privacy For The Practical
Ever since the revelations of Edward Snowden and learning about the fact that the United States Government implements and utilizes commercial-grade equipment to spy on society, there's been an ongoing battle for personal privacy. Most don't do this because they have things to hide, but because they have important things to protect, like their banking information or previous addresses. With the rise of major technology companies and governments at the helm of new technical innovations and controlling most people's everyday lives, it becomes people's responsibility to carefully handle their personal information- both online and offline. For those unfamiliar, this blog post seeks to provide a “quick start guide” on how one can protect their info from malicious actors, governments, and so forth.
How do big tech companies make money? Let's use Amazon as an example- since they are forced by law to disclose their earnings on all the companies they own, we can easily tell that Amazon actually LOSES MONEY on their main retail site that a user buys products on. Huh? How does this work? As it turns out, advertising companies pay vast sums of money for actionable leads, or information that can lead to a conversion, or a customer visiting their page or store and making a purchase. Naturally for a company such as Amazon to draw a profit from this, they need to collect and resell user data.
Who On Earth Buys This Information?
If you have visited sites similar to Whitepages.com, odds are that you may be familiar with what this sort of data is used for. It's collected on a MASSIVE scale and used for marketing, Open-Source Intelligence (how hackers, the CIA and NSA all get your personal info), COVID-19 contact tracing, and more. Some of the major sites are Intelius.com, Whitepages.com, and [Pipl.com][https://pipl.com]. Other marketing agencies may also collect your valuable private information.
Okay, How Do I Stop This?
If you opted to create social media accounts, there are a few ways to remove information from the internet: – Google search yourself, deleting old accounts and opting out of sites like Whitepages. – Pay a privacy management service online. There are several of these. – Hire a Private Investigator to remove your information for you (this is the most expensive option).
Fortunately, most data aggregators have a tiiiiny little “DO NOT SELL MY INFORMATION” button at the bottoms of their pages, which you can utilize to remove the offending information.
It has been proven numerous times that taking a proactive approach towards digital security is the ONLY way to mitigate security issues as they arise. Many well-known programs and systems have an extremely poor reputation for being horribly insecure, and it is recommended to avoid them at all costs. For the sake of brevity, we won't cover this in depth, but will instead provide recommended software:
RECOMMENDATIONS: Operating System: Qubes OS, OpenBSD, Whonix Password manager: Keepass X/variants Web Browser: ungoogled-chromium, iceweasel, Tor Browser Email service: lavabit, protonmail Filehosting: rent a VPS in switzerland and selfhost NextCloud Voice/Video Conferencing: Jitsi meet Phone Calls/SMS: Signal App
An important thing many people claim to have “on point” is their physical security. This may involve the installing of locks for the doors to your home, ensuring a laptop isn't left unlocked in public, etc. However, many leave gaps in what measures can be made.
Did you know it's possible to read other people's mail by simply holding the closed envelope to light or spraying freon gas (sold in magic shops) against the envelope, which will temporarily make the envelope transparent? As it turns out, the simplest way to prevent this from happening is to wrap your mail in foil before putting it in an envelope. This makes it resistant to light and resistant to gases like freon.
Locks and Doors
Lockpicking is a growing sport, and as a result the bypassing of doors is becoming easier and easier to perform. To ensure nobody enters rooms or buildings they aren't supposed to be in, it's crucial that the doors be properly fitted to their frames and have higher end locks and latches installed to deter wannabe thieves.
What Do “Hackers” Do?
Hackers are seen as the proverbial bad guy who attacks computers and IT infrastructure, but an etymology of the word implies that people who are hackers love to innovate and creatively solve new and interesting problems. The common worry is the “cracker”, or a person who breaks (cracks) other's security measures set in place for fun or for profit.
These attacks may or may not be performed with any malicious intent- just for the sake of exploration. However, this does mean that there is something to be learned. If an attacker compromises your security in any way, shape or form it is critical to institute a means of mitigating the way they gained access.
On top of this, it's not uncommon for crackers and hackers alike to be hired and found working in professions such as a Security Analyst role, due to their intense eye for detail and passion for how things work.
Without Further Ado...
This is by no means a comprehensive guide on personal privacy, but rather a means to get started. On top of this, it's important to remember that nothing will EVER be fully secure. So, if anyone wishes to obtain that elusive private life, they will have to keep up with the times and actively work to ensure privacy is their #1 concern.
I will continue to post more on privacy-related content as time goes on, but since this is such a vast field it is critical that anyone concerned perform their research and due diligence.
Thanks for reading!
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