Online Security Veteran
It is crucial to take steps to improve the security of your online communications. Yet, that is not enough. So then, it is also better to understand how threats work. Moreover, verify the identity of the person you are communicating with. Above all, include some new tools to your repertoire of online security.
Online Security Veteran
However, trying to protect your data at all times is exhausting and impractical. But, don’t worry, security is a process, and you can have the right security plan through enough planning. Keep in mind that security isn’t about the software you download or the tools you use. First, understand the threats you face and how you can go about them.
So then, threat modeling is essential.
How To Make a Security Plan
When building a security plan, answer the following questions:
What needs to get protected?
Who am I protecting it from?
What impact do the consequences have if I fail?
How likely is it that I will require to protect it?
How much trouble am I ready to go through to try and prevent the consequences?
An asset is something valuable to you, and you want to protect it. In this context, an asset is often some kind of data. For example, it can be your contact lists, location, emails, and instant messages. For that reason, you should know a potential threat to your data. Potential threats could be hackers, business competitors, or even a government agency.
Still, there are multiple ways an adversary could gain access to your data. Moreover, the motives and tactics of the adversaries differ. An example is, a government may try to prevent a video showing police violence from spreading. In addition, security planning involves understanding how dire consequences could be. That is, if an adversary accesses your data.
Note that there is no perfect option for online security. But your risk assessment allows you to plan the right strategy for you. Furthermore, it helps in balancing privacy, convenience, and cost. Also, remember that your security plan can change as your situation changes. Hence, you ought to visit your security plan frequently.
How to Choose the Right Online Security Tools
Many companies and websites offer tools that help individuals improve their digital security. As a result, how do you pick the tool that is right for you?
First, remember that no tool offers absolute protection against surveillance in all circumstances. Thus, it’s essential to scrutinize your digital security practices holistically. Second, it’s impossible to protect your data from all attackers. Thereupon, it would help if you focused on the people who might want your data.
There is a strong belief that transparency and openness lead to more secure tools. For that reason, the digital security community recommends open-source software. By being transparent, the creators look for security flaws and help improve the program. To confirm the quality of security of a tool, see if its source code is available. After that, confirm if it has an independent security audit.
The creators of a good tool should be clear about its advantages and disadvantages. In fact, toolmakers should list previous issues and links to consistent updates and information. By doing that, you can have more confidence in the tool.
When using end-to-end encryption, each recipient of a message owns a unique public key. The key gets used to encrypt messages to them so only they can decode them. However, you should ensure you are using someone’s correct encryption key. To do that, it is crucial to perform key verification.
Various secure messaging systems have different ways to verify keys. Yet, they all encourage you to check those keys outside of the messaging system. This is known as out-of-band verification.
Since encryption keys are very long sets of numbers, it makes them hard to check manually. To make it easier, communication software can show you a “fingerprint,” which is easier to check. Fingerprints can be the following:
A graphic or image
A smaller number
And finally, sets of common words
After the verification, you can now communicate more securely. To verify keys out-of-band, you can verify the keys in person. In addition, you can verify the keys over another medium.
Key Concepts in Encryption
In some circumstances, encryption can be relatively automatic and straightforward. Besides, the more you understand it, the safer you will be. For that reason, there are five main concepts for understanding encryption:
Symmetric and asymmetric encryption
Private and public keys
Identity verification for people
Identity verification for websites
A cipher is an algorithm used for encrypting and decrypting. They are well-defined steps that can get followed as a formula. In comparison, a key is an information that instructs the cipher on how to encrypt and decrypt.
In symmetric encryption, there is one key that encrypts and decrypts data. In contrast, asymmetric encryption involves different keys in encryption and decryption. For instance, the public key encrypts data while the private key decrypts data.
How Encryption Works
First, a readable message gets encrypted into a scrambled message. In short, the message is incomprehensible to anyone looking at it. After that, the encrypted message gets sent over the internet. When it reaches its recipient, they are the only ones who can decode it to its original form.
Public key cryptography is also known as asymmetric cryptography. And private key cryptography is also known as symmetric cryptography. An example that uses both protocols is PGP. So then, using end-to-end encryption tools like PGP will enlighten you on using asymmetric cryptography.
Pretty Good Privacy gets often concerned with developing and using private and public keys. Even so, you can create the key pair and protect the private key with a password.
Disguising that you are communicating with a specific person is challenging. With PGP, you can use anonymous email accounts and access them using Tor. When doing that, all messages become private and do not get tampered with.
Tor directs Internet traffic via an overlay of the network hence concealing the user’s location. Since it provides anonymity, dark web users use it to access the darknet. The anonymity is to avoid getting tracked by law enforcement. As a result, cybercriminals can visit online black markets without worry.
Indeed, we can never be totally safe from online security breaches. Even so, we can reduce our chances of being targets.
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