Steve Smith, host of your Technology Questions Answered, explains how to protect your identity online, and explains why some methods will never work.
Episode #1-26 released on March 27, 2011
Let's talk about protecting your identity online, and getting rid of all the bogus notions out there in the wind. First, we will talk about what users do that makes it virtually impossible to protect their identity, and then, talk about what solutions some users do, that don't protect them more than it should.
Stop downloading illicit content, you'll get infected. 1 out of every 4 torrent downloads is a fake. These fakes contain viruses and spy ware that compromise your computer system. In some cases, your computer becomes part of a Bot Net, and your contacts will get flood by a massive load of useless e-mail. Just a note, once your infected, your computer is finished. You'll have to format, possibly losing all your files that you didn't backup.
If your computer acquires an infection of a spy ware nature, you may have your whole private life out into the wind. You'll have to change all your passwords, and possibly have to change account logins, as well.
Stop using the same password for everything. You really need to have a different password for everything you have. Here is a hint for all those web-site designers, its called a two step login, if you have the resources, use it.
Unsolicited email, is an email you didn't ask for. Stop replying to these unsolicited emails. This only confirms your email address exists. Also, you may want to use the ReCaptcha software to hide your email address online. This service is offered by Google, and I actively use it on my this site.
In unsolicited email, there are links, photos, and code. Do not read emails in HTML format. Always opt for text emails, whenever possible. Do not click links in emails, often people mask the actual address, and anyone who knows basic HTML knows what I am talking about. Suggestion : turn off the preview window, and HTML rendering in your email client.
Changing your IP address, does not change your modem's identity name, this only adds a few seconds to the time it takes to track you, when your downloading a file, your leaving an active trail for the authorities to follow. Do not download illicit materials. Do not pay or use bogus IP address changing software.
Whenever your in a public WiFi area, use a virtual private network connection to protect your connection, otherwise anyone can see what your accessing in real-time. Keep in mind, if your also using a custom cookie, the server and server administrators can see what your doing. Always use VPN services that do not require installation of special certificates in your computer.
You do not need a VPN if your accessing a web-site that already uses SSL, secure socket layer. The web-sites that use SSL, are usually those with shopping carts, online stores, banks, etc... These you can navigate without the aid of a VPN, your already protected. A presumed notion is that running a web-site in SSL all the time requires more power from the server, this notion is false, and Google proves it everyday running their search engine in SSL mode.
Please keep in mind, that now, since we link all our accounts together, that you make sure that you do not authorize any illicit web-sites access to your accounts. Facebook is of particular danger, because this is where most people keep their personal information, and its easy to get a developer ID, and integrate into an illicit web-site connection abilities. Just to prove it, view the source of my web-site, and keep in mind we use Facebook's open graph protocol, it cost us nothing to get the developer ID, and the process took less than 60 seconds. If someone really wanted to, they could access your account, at anytime.
Do not login into your extremely sensitive accounts on public computers, this may act as a way to geographically track you in real time.
Also, do not use tracking web-sites like Facebook places, foursquare, etc... These places show your away from home, but also where your home is.
So you may be wondering, what can you do online then. Well here is a tip, if only you and your friends are suppose to know something, you only share with friends. If its something everyone knows about you already, you can post that. And things that are personal, stay offline. Everything you write, post, and upload online, stays online, forever.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions