Safe Internet Browsing

A few years back, internet was mainly used for searching and reading information. Increasingly, it is becoming a place to store your information as well, replacing your computer as the repository of your files, short messages, chats, pictures, email’s and even your random thoughts. Some services even encourage you to store private information such as work files. Having unlimited storage and access to your files where ever you are is an enticing way to use (and become depend on) or work with individuals who do, you should seriously consider where your information and files are stored.

The insecurities

  • Most of these services allow you to use their facilities but may require you to give up some sort of ownership of your information.
  • Most, if not all, of these services only provide you with a username and passwords as security measures to guard your information from unauthorized access. Apart from these you must trust them with your files and information.
  • Most of these services are accessible only via a browser which will have its own vulnerabilities and insecurities.
  • Communication is over the internet and so is subject to all threats and attacks on the internet.

Things to consider

  • Thoroughly check the reputation of the internet service that you want to use. Have they previously been involved in any privacy and security issues?
  • Read the fine print of the end User license Agreements (EULA) of these services. You might be giving something up in terms of ownership of your files.
  • Consider the sensitivity of your files and information. Will having these on the internet compromise your security and the security of others?
  • Examine what security measures are in place to secure your files and information. Ideally these measures are verifiable and can be vetted by third party organizations concerned with privacy and security.
  • Revisit and identify which information can be stored or is already stored on the internet and which is better off stored on your computer.
  • If you do use these services make sure you have a strong password and change this regularly.
  • Seriously consider using a safe browser like Firefox which has built-in security features and a growing number of privacy and security add-ons.
  • Use “https” when connecting to your online services, whenever possible. Using “https” encrypts the connection from your browser and other information is transmitted securely.
  • If you still want to use these services, encrypting your files before storing them on a service of your choice is always a good idea. Truecrypt is an encryption application that can help you secure your information from unwanted access even if exposed publicly.