How to protect your privacy online while working from home
Steven Waterhouse is the CEO and co-founder of Orchid, an Ethereum blockchain-based privacy tool designed to allow people to freely explore the Internet.
With the global coronavirus pandemic limiting billions to their homes, masses of workers everywhere are adjusting to remote work for the first time. This change is forcing us to negotiate a new reality where there is no demarcation between work and personal spheres. At this time, we must be more vigilant about data privacy. Just as it is essential that we wash our hands to prevent disease, we must now establish data privacy habits to protect our digital lives.
Everything we do online – the documents we share, the websites we visit, the messages we send – leaves a trail of data. If we are not careful, this data can be used to monitor us, and to manipulate us which is worse. But there are ways we can improve our security and privacy on the Internet. I have spent years focused on strengthening Internet privacy, managing widely distributed and remote teams. This is how people can protect their data while working remotely.
Start by implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your accounts. This ensures that no one can enter by guessing or stealing your password. They also need a confirmation code sent to you by text message or email. 2FA adds a strong second line of defense to your online identity.
Basic 2FA generally uses a phone number, which can be good enough if you trust your phone operator. However, a wave of “simulation swapping” or “phone transfer,” especially in our community, means that it often cannot. A better solution is to use an app like Google Authenticator, which generates codes in an app on your phone. For added security, do not connect your phone number to your Google or other accounts. Google and others will annoyingly remind you to add your phone number, but as long as you have the authentication app you won’t need it.
It is also important to know security at the level of our Internet connection. In a remote working world, we must rely on our wired and wireless home networks to connect. This poses challenges that require good privacy practices.
A network is as secure as your device is weaker. So it’s a good idea to set up a “guest” wi-fi network and use it to connect nonessential devices like televisions and electronic assistants. In this way, if a Sonos (for example) has a security flaw, a hacker cannot exploit it to make a back door on their most important devices. Dividing your essential and nonessential devices into separate networks in this way significantly reduces your risk.
“A network is as secure as its device is weaker.”
Pay attention to your router – some are better than others. One of my particular favorites is the EERO wi-fi system, which includes malware and ad blocking software. It also allows guests to connect using a QR code, which the host can later revoke. Regardless of which option you choose, do your research and make sure you understand the tradeoffs.
Once online, there are more privacy best practices. It is a good idea to divide your internet usage between two browsers (eg Chrome and Firefox). If you use the same browser for everything, your work and personal profiles will be mixed. An army of bots constantly build a profile based on your browsing history, and if you don’t separate work from staff, your work and personal stories will be mixed. And remember: incognito mode does nothing for online traceability. Simply delete your history so that your housemates cannot see what you have been doing.
Even with your devices and browsing safely, your internet service provider can see everything it does. Depending on your jurisdiction, certain services, including conference and messaging applications, may be blocked. To mitigate these issues, I recommend using a virtual private network or VPN. VPNs route traffic through their own servers, making it difficult for third parties to see what we do online. Some of the best VPNs include LiquidVPN, PIA, Tenta, Boleh, and VPNSecure.
Remote work requires messaging and conferencing, and privacy and security are also important to consider when choosing. Zoom, the popular video conferencing application, has taken off during this era of social estrangement. During the crisis, it has seen 14 times more downloads than its fourth quarter average. But there are real concerns about Zoom’s commitment to online privacy and security. The app’s meetings are not end-to-end encrypted, and privacy groups have criticized it for its management features, which allow hosts to view the location and device data about participants.
Those looking for an alternative should look at Whereby, which offers more privacy. For small meetings (up to 4 participants), which uses end-to-end encryption, but for larger meeting rooms, a server is used to maintain the stability of the video service.
On the messaging side, WhatsApp messages have full end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp allows the storage of messages in your chat history in iCloud and other backup services. Turn this off to be more private. But there is concern that Facebook, which acquired the app in 2014, plans to merge it with its native messaging app, raising serious concerns given the scrutiny around Facebook’s privacy practices. If you want even more privacy, Signal is a good alternative. WhatsApp actually uses the Signal protocol, but unlike WhatsApp, Signal code is open source. Signal collects much less metadata than WhasApp. Metadata is information such as who you spoke to and when you spoke to them.
The coronavirus has forced millions of people around the world to adapt to a new work paradigm almost overnight. Even when the crisis is over, some changes in work patterns are probably here to stay. By establishing good habits and using the right tools, we can go a long way in protecting ourselves in this new reality. If we all work to establish good data hygiene, we can even improve our privacy online, even while working remotely. Everything about Blockchain-bitcoin technology as the genesis of this technological revolution.
Disclaimer: This press release is for informational purposes information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of infocoin, and should not be attributed to, Infocoin.