If you are over 50, you are usually more protected from the aggressive attacks of Internet crooks and spyware.
They like to prey on Gen-X and Millennial populations who are usually more trusting and often more compulsive, living for the Twitter moment. This means they are more prone to click on questionable sites and e-mail.
Everything you do on the Internet involves some form of encryption. For the next several years, the existing RSA encryption schemes will survive. We rely upon today’s state-of-the-art encryption systems to protect us.
But, these days will shortly end as we convert from conventional computers to Quantum CPUs. See: www.interestingengineering.com/googles-quantum-processor-may-achieve-quantum-supremacy-in-months
By the end of next year, you will want to convert to using Yubi USB encryption keys. See: www.amazon.com/Yubico-Security-USB-Factor-Authentication/dp/B07M8YBWQZ/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=yubikey+blue&qid=1563214084&s=gateway&sr=8-2
In the meanwhile, here are some rules of thumb for everyone to follow to minimize the dangers of Internet crooks and privacy thieves hurting you.
These first five items will get you 50% off their tracking radar:
1) NEVER use “free” Facebook or its evil twin subsidiary Instagam. I
f you want to send something to a friend, like a picture, use e-mail with attachment. If you must use Facebook for work, create work-only Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts – and use a separate e-mail account, not your personal one. Services like Apple’s encrypted messaging and FaceTime are better.
2) NEVER use “free” gmail or its evil twin Yahoo mail. They open, read, track and sell the contents of your e-mails (to and from) to everyone. Use www.Protonmail.com instead.
Never open an attachment from a stranger, and before you open an attachment from a friend, send them a query first to confirm they really sent the e-mail to you.
3) NEVER use “free” Google for a search engine. They keep ALL searches made by you over the past 20 years. And YES, they really do know who you are. Use www.Startpage.com instead.
5) ALWAYS use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect your devices to the Internet. Always. This blocks all the spies along the way from monitoring your traffic. See: www.ProtonVPN.com.
To get you another 40% of the way there, you can do the following additional things:
6) NEVER use an Android-based phone. (it uses Google software – duh!) If you really must use a smartphone at all, use an iPhone – and reset its advertising tracking ID in ‘Settings/Privacy’ every DAY.
7) NEVER EVER connect any kind of IOT (Internet of Things) devices like a NEST ‘smart’ thermostat, or a RING video doorbell, wi-fi ‘security’ cameras, or “smart” light bulbs. ALL are dumb and insecure Linux-based devices connected by wi-fi no less. NONE are ever updated/patched for software hacks, bugs, etc. ALL can be easily hacked – and turned into always-on spyware devices by the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, Washington, etc…
8) NEVER use the “friendly” so-called “smart speakers” from Amazon, Google, or Apple. ALL are spyware devices that can easily be hacked to listen into everything around them – and they do. (It is estimated that the Chinese,etc. have hacked into and taken over 50 million devices in Americans’ homes. And once in command of your device on your home LAN it can now be used to hack into your personal computers with saved passwords, bank accounts, identity-theft information, etc. Yikes!
9) NEVER use SIRI or its evil twin sisters. Your voice is recorded and stored and then used in voice recognition software to ID you in other places for tracking – and even your voice’s emotional content is analyzed.
10) NEVER use “free” wi-fi at Starbucks, etc. unless you have installed a VPN on your phone/pad/laptop. The old saw: “there’s no such thing as a free lunch – is doubly true for public wi-fi connections (and this includes hotels, airports, airplanes, etc).
11) NEVER use cable television to watch TV programs. (It’s OK to use a cable-based ISP like Comcast for a fast Internet connection, provided you run a VPN on your devices or router). Use a satellite-TV vendor such as DISH-TV or DIRECT TV instead. Why? Because the cable box on top of your TV is two-way. It reports all your activities back to the cable TV company – which sells your viewing data to the highest bidders. And some boxes now have built-in microphones. The one-way-down satellite systems don’t know and can’t track what you are watching minute-by-minute – unless you’ve been silly enough to plug them into your home Internet router “to help improve your service experience…”
12) NEVER use so-called “Smart TV’s” which have Internet connections and built-in microphones/cameras that monitor everything you are doing – and report back to their super-server computer centers in the far east (can you say China…?). If you must plug your TV into the Internet, ALWAYS install an Internet ‘kill switch’ to disconnect it from the Internet when you are not using it.
13) NEVER use Internet-connected streaming video devices like ROKU – with their built in microphones and always-on connections to the Internet. These are the ‘best’ spyware devices possible: the microphone is even built into their all-so-friendly remote control. (Better for me to hear you with, little Red Riding-hood). If you must use a Roku-like device, be sure to connect it through an Internet disconnect kill switch and block its connection whenever you are finished using it.
A cheap Internet kill switch at Amazon is here: https://www.amazon.com/MT-VIKI-Network-Splitter-Selector-MT-RJ45-2M/dp/B00DRG1SLO/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=internet+kill+switch&qid=1563045340&s=gateway&sr=8-4.
Connect one to each always-on device you plug into your home router.
Here’s an important SUGGESTION: The best way to use a cellphone is to make a voice telephone call. TXT messaging is the worst of all. Everything else you do on a cellphone is tracked – although a VPN will help protect your web browsing, and the iPhone is the best smartphone to use today.
Of course, you may not care about your Internet privacy. Some people say “Why should I care about my privacy? I don’t have anything to hide!” But this is naive. Everyone has many things to keep private.
Not just their credit cards, bank accounts, intimate photographs, and stupid rants. It’s all the stuff that can enable an Internet crook to steal your identity. And if that ever happens, God help you! You will suffer months of pain and money trying to prove to the world that the person who used your private credentials to access child porn was not really you. “Oh yeah? That’s what they all say, sicko”… Practicing “safe Internet” is like practicing “safe sex”. Keep that in mind the next time you click on a Facebook ‘like’ icon or look up something using Google. It’s like getting herpes – only worse. And. like herpes, you may never be able to recover from the disease your entire life.
But since few people back up their personal data, hacking into your devices by bitcoin crooks who encrypt all your data and then demand blackmail payment to unlock it may be even worse. What do you do if all your personal photos you’ve ever taken are suddenly lost to you? Unless you pay up – and then who knows? This happens many times a day throughout the world. And it is almost always caused by bad Internet privacy practices. R”Free” E-mail, of course is like sending a postcard.
FINALLY, one of the safest things to do is to CREATE THREE DIFFERENT E-MAIL ACCOUNTS (NOT with Google). Use one for personal, private communications with friends and family. Use the second for critical financial accounts like banking, insurance, brokerage services. Use the third for general web inquiries like subscribing to magazines, Amazon, pizza delivery services, etc.
The last 10% of the way to recapture your Internet privacy can be very difficult and very expensive – if you want to continue to use the Internet. For escaping the eager eyes of government spy agencies overseas and in the US, it is an almost impossible task.
But here’s one common sense rule of thumb: NEVER take your own smartphone or laptop into China, Russia or any totalitarian country. They WILL inject spyware into your devices while you are waiting to get your baggage in the claim area. Use a prepaid throw-away so-called “burner phone” when you are in these countries. And be sure to toss it out upon your return.
Now, to reach the last 10% of Internet privacy it’s actually really simple but very difficult to do in practice!
Simply unplug all your devices from the Internet, disconnect your Internet service, get rid of your smartphone. Use the land-line telephone (you still have one, right?) and US mails to communicate from now on. In other words, return to the era of 1980 telecoms technology! Your life will be far simpler and slower, and you will sleep better by not having to check your smartphone every 5 minutes to see if you missed anything.
And good luck!