Privacy and online security are at an all-time high demand. Cyber criminals have stolen in excess of $600 billion in 2018, and it’s estimated that there are hacking attempts happening every 39 seconds. Of course, hackers are just one part of the people lining up to profit off your data.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been caught selling their users’ browsing and location data. That is, when advertisers and social media giants aren’t doing the job themselves. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is still fresh on peoples’ minds.
So what can you do? Fortunately, there are quite a few tools at your disposal to prevent disasters like this. We’ve done the hard work for you, so just sit back and enjoy the light reading.
Watch Out for Your Pockets
Hackers aside, did you know you don’t even have to be online for thieves to steal your credit card info? That’s right; people are having that info stolen right out of their pockets with RFID readers. No physical contact required.
Picture this: you’re out and about, admiring the gorgeous, tree-lined La Rambla street in Barcelona. Your attention is grabbed by one of the living statues, or the intriguing architecture and myriad of cafés. The place can be pretty crowded, so it’s not exactly hard for somebody to sneak behind you and scan your pockets with one of those RFID readers.
The only way to prevent this brand of identity theft is to block out those scanners with RFID protection. A good example is this Gucci RFID protection card holder, which is a compact fit in your pocket, ideal for light travelling. And at only $555 (excluding taxes), you’ll be glad to have this stylish, genuine snakeskin leather holder keeping your credit cards safe from crafty, high-tech pickpockets.
Everyone Can Track Your Spending
Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to share what you pay for with your bank? Or if you’re especially lucky, with some hackers? You know, like the 106 million people affected by the Capital One hack in 2019. Or the other 143 million in the Equifax hack of 2017.
Then again, perhaps you kept your eyes open before the Bitcoin (BTC) craze came and went (and Forbes says it might be making another move soon). Either way, you’re now sitting on some valuable currency, and it’d be a shame if you didn’t make full use of its privacy benefits and no bank holiday constraints.
Obviously, you’re not going to carry your MacBook around to make BTC payments. But for a measly $244 you can get a HTC Exodus 1S Blockchain phone that’s basically a veritable BTC wallet. It’s able to run a full Bitcoin node, meaning you can perform such transactions privately and securely.
Provided you have an SD card with decent storage (400 GB+) – you can even hold a full copy of the Bitcoin ledger. Its low starting price also means you can experiment with it as a portable BTC wallet or simply as a secondary smartphone.
Webcam Spying on Your Private Life
Not only can government agencies hack into your webcam, but any run-of-the-mill cyber attacker that has you in their sights can do so as well. You’ve probably seen this picture of Mark Zuckerberg and his taped-over webcam. Now you know why he does it. In an ironic twist, one of the worst privacy offenders of the century doesn’t like his privacy being invaded.
Thankfully, you don’t have to ruin your sleek laptop with tape glue in the name of privacy. The Huawei Matebook Pro X laptop has a spring-loaded, pop-out webcam between the F6 and F7 keys. It’s actually quite satisfying to pop it out. Just take a look. Now you can actually video call the kids back home before heading out on the veranda for another glass of champagne. And you won’t have any “uninvited viewership” to worry about.
But what if actual thieves barge into your suite and get a hold of it? You’ve already seen how the data on your laptop is more valuable than the actual unit. Fortunately, this one has a fingerprint sensor for added security. And your fingerprint is stored securely on the device, not on a cloud somewhere – a data breach waiting to happen.
If you’re not a fan of MacBooks, the Matebook X Pro is basically the Windows variant with some quality of life and security enhancements, higher performance, and a similar price point (between $1,499 and $2,350 depending on the model and vendor).
Put a Lock on Your Online Safety
So you’ve secured your pockets, your bank account (albeit, in a roundabout manner), and private matters. You still need to think about those online threats we’ve mentioned. After all, you can’t exactly put your browsing data, email logins, and payment info in a safe. Or can you?
Virtual private networks (VPNs) allow you to encrypt (i.e. obfuscate) all network traffic from your devices. Any hacker, greedy ISP, or government agency looking into your online activity will see only unreadable gibberish – whether you’re doing some online shopping on the fly, watching Netflix, or discussing an important business meeting.
It’s a must-have, especially for public WiFi usage. Hackers gather around these hotspots like flies, most often around unsecured hotel WiFi where they know valuable guests are passing through. Hilton, InterContinental, and Hyatt Hotels were all affected – so don’t expect better security for the premium prices.
On a related note, a VPN will help you keep your location a secret. It does so by replacing your real IP address with the IP of the VPN server you’re connecting to. Any service, website, or third party will believe you’re browsing from an entirely different region.
The best quality when it comes to virtual private networks is ExpressVPN – providing fast, secure servers in 94 countries. They’re also great at unblocking geo-restricted content like Netflix or BBC iPlayer while you’re abroad, and accept Bitcoin so you can enjoy the full privacy package.