What can I, Normal Person, do to improve my security?

To get started: Be safer when browsing the Web

Use Google Chrome or Firefox to access browser extensions that can help improve your privacy when browsing the Web.

  • Disrupt online tracking. Advertisers automatically place files — called cookies — onto your browser to keep track of the pages you visit online. You can block tracking cookies with the add on from Disconnect.me on Firefox or Chrome
  • When you connect to the Web, some sites you visit offer both unsecured (HTTP) and secured (HTTPS) versions of the page. Download HTTPS Everywhere on Google Chrome or Firefox to automatically connect to the secured versions of many websites.
  • Advertising is the business model of many parts of the Web, and yet ads can be used to deliver malware to users. Online advertising networks have a hard time detecting bad actors abusing ads to deliver malicious files. Download uBlock Origin for Chrome or Firefox works as well, and uses less memory. You can also keep ads for sites you trust.
  • Protect your Web traffic from eavesdroppers on wi-fi networks with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Open, public wi-fi networks are convenient. You can find them everywhere — at coffee shops, restaurants, and airports. The problem is that open wi-fi networks also allow other users on the network to see your unsecured Web traffic. For example, if you’re browsing products on Amazon, that traffic is usually unencrypted. When connecting to open wi-fi networks, use a VPN. A VPN encrypts and tunnels your Web traffic to a remote location. It can also be helpful for everyday use, especially if you want to access websites that are blocked in your country. It usually costs a few dollars each month. Mac users, consider Cloak. Windows users, consider Disconnect.me (Premium)
  • Of course, use antivirus software like Avast or similar tools.

Next: Encrypt it all

You can scramble your data so that no one, except for you and the people you wish to include, will be able to read it.

  • Encrypt your hard drive. If your device is ever lost or stolen, it’s easy for thieves to take data off your hard disk. Good news: If you have a new password-protected iPhone your disk is already encrypted. If you have an Android Device, it’s pretty easy to encrypt your phone. For your laptop or desktop, you can encrypt your hard drive using your operating system’s native software: FileVault for Mac, or BitLocker on Windows.
  • If you’re concerned about the privacy of your phone calls or text messages, download Signal for iOS or Android to make secure phone calls and send secure text messages to your friends. If you have friends who you text non-stop, have them try Signal as well. Research suggests that half of our texts go to our inner-circle — roughly 5 people. If you and one friend to use Signal, it’s a huge improvement for your privacy and theirs.

More work, but important: Authenticating logins

Passwords are often the only thing standing between attackers and your information. It takes more work to manage your passwords than the previous steps, but it’s worthwhile.

  • Use a password manager. Everyone knows you reuse the same password for everything, because it’s easy to remember. We’re not always great at remembering multiple passwords. A password manager like 1password or KeePassX (free!) can help randomize strong passwords, and store them securely. Use this software to find and copy your long, randomized passwords. As always, be careful about where you paste.
 Two-factor authentication message.
  • Passwords aren’t enough. To make it harder for someone to break into your accounts, many online services allow you to verify your identity when logging in, by sending you a text message with an authentication code, or by using a mobile app. Use two-factor authentication everywhere, but especially for your primary email account. If someone gets your email, they can use it to log into everything else. Gmail users can enable two-factor authentication here. If you use Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, or any number of other services, I’d recommend using two-factor for those services as well.

These tips only scratch the surface, but are some of the simplest and most effective approaches that we have for keeping your data, yours.


Computer Eye Safety Tips – Remember to Blink!

If you work in an office you’ll spend at least 8 hours a day in front of a computer, sometimes even more if you go home and stare at a laptop screen all evening.

Spending such a vast amount of time in front of a screen can damage your posture and have a serious effect on your eyes. Therefore it’s essential that you take a proactive and open-minded approach toward “eye-gonomics” whilst you’re sat at your desk.

If you are experiencing eye strain or neck and shoulder problems, there’s a good chance that you’re doing it wrong at the moment and you need to revisit the way you behave in front of a screen.

The effect a computer screen can have on your eyes

Studies have shown that by spending just two hours on a laptop each day you can significantly increase eye pain and vision problems. So those of us who sit behind a computer everyday to earn a living and then go home and unwind in front of the TV must surely be feeling the strain.

First things first, take a step back and assess whether or not you have a problem with your eyes. Once you have determined that the endless hours in front of a computer screen are taking their toll, there are countless easy steps you can take to protect your eyes.

A few of our favourites are:

  • Minimsise the amount of glare by cleaning your screen regularly and ensuring that it’s the most brightly glowing thing in the room. Grey backgrounds also tend to be easier on the eyes than white.
  • Always remember to blink. When you are engrossed in a piece of work you can often forget to do it, but regularly blinking cleans the eyes and reduces strain.
  • Now it my be hard not to sit on the edge of your seat as you crack the code that was causing your website to break or when you finally make that killer Excel formula, but it’s extremely important to sit an arm’s length away from your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned right below eye level and not tilted.
  • Regular breaks are vitally important. One of our favourite techniques is what they call a “20-20-20 break.” All you do is that for every 20 minutes you are sat in front of a screen, take 20 seconds to have a look around and see what is going on 20 feet away from you. This is the perfect way to refocus your eyes and give them a quick break before getting back to work.
  • On the topic of breaks, make sure you take a lunch break away from your screen. If you have a big project on and can’t afford to take a long lunch, just take 15 minutes to stretch your legs and make a coffee.
  • If you feel the strain on your eyes, consider purchasing a stylish pair of glasses solely for computer use. If you are unsure about which glasses are right for you from a style perspective, take a look at this interesting guide that will tell you what the best glasses are for your face shape.

Now that you have a stronger idea of exactly what you need to do to improve the health of your eyes and minimise the effects that sitting in front of a screen can have, we challenge you to put them into practice. We are sure that after you make a few slight changes to your approach to working in front of a computer all day you will notice a difference.

If you are experiencing serious issues with your eyes or suffering from regular headaches after prolonged computer sessions, make sure you seek advice from your doctor or optician.

Let us know how you get on with our eye-gonomic tips by leaving a comment below… and don’t forget to blink!