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 Source: This article was Published staysafe.org - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

The online world offers a wealth of resources for education, entertainment, and connection with other people. Unfortunately, the internet also poses new dangers, and those dangers threaten teens especially. The following guide provides the resources necessary for both parents and their teens to safely utilize the Internet.

There are plenty of horror stories: one boy discovered that an entire website had been set up to denigrate him and encourage others to harass him at school. Another young woman was abducted by a man who had posed as a teen online, traced her to her home through the personal information she’d given out, and then stalked her to discover when she’d be home alone.

Even the non-horror stories are troubling: one young woman found that an entire suite of social media accounts had been set up to impersonate her online. She wasn’t harmed personally by this crazy scheme, but others are less lucky: half a million teens have had their financial histories blemished from the start due to identity theft. And online scams abound—from prom dresses ordered online that turn out to be cheap knock-offs to software that secretly downloads itself and steers browsers to dangerous corners of the internet.

Online life is as fraught with peril as real life, and it can be much harder for parents to monitor the risks their kids are taking in the virtual world. But as with the other challenges of growing up, getting knowledgeable about internet safety for teens, talking over your concerns with the teens in your life, and arming them against the obvious dangers can build your relationships with them—and prepare them for adulthood.

94% Percent of Teens who Use a Mobile Device go Online Daily (source: Pew Research Center)

Start with the Hardware

You should start your child internet protection plan with one of the most vulnerable aspects of your teen’s online life, and one that may not be obvious because it’s there in plain sight. But if your teen has a laptop of their own (or if they routinely borrow yours) it can lead to a world of trouble. Left unattended in a public place, a laptop—which may offer unfettered access to e-mail accounts, personal information, and even vital passwords and credit card numbers—can be gone in seconds. So if you want to boost your teen’s cybersecurity, start by protecting their laptop.

At a bare minimum, insist that they set up password protection on their computer. This may act as a deterrent: a thief having to choose between unattended laptops may not choose one that’s locked down with a password. The next step is a physical lock: computer cables are inexpensive and will allow your teen to leave their seat at the library or a coffee shop without having to decide whether or not to bring their computer into the bathroom.

You can go an extra step by turning on the laptop’s locator function, which comes as a native feature in Apple OS and iOS, with PC versions available for installation on other platforms. This will allow you to locate the computer if it’s lost, and delete the data on the computer if it falls into the wrong hands.

Finally, you should talk to your teen about the type of information they leave on their laptop. It may be tempting to record all their vital passwords and other useful information, but of course, doing so puts them at risk if someone steals it or manages to access it in some other way. At the very least, any files that they use to store this kind of sensitive information should be password protected.

Malware, Viruses, and Spyware

  1. Set Up Password Protection
  2. Turn on the Locator
  3. Discuss Sensitive Information

Protecting your computer means much more than physical protection, as important as that is. Much of the information on your computer can also be accessed by malicious software that can make its way onto your hard drive any time you connect to the internet, and sometimes when you’re connected to any network at all.

Malware

Malware is a generic term for all malicious software.

Virus

Among the types of malware is the Virus, a piece of software that will secretly enter a computer’s operating system and manipulate it into actions that damage it or hinder its performance.

Trojan Horse

Trojan horses are apparently innocuous applications or utilities that are used by hackers to insert malware into your operating system.

Spyware

Spyware is malicious software that allows a third party to take information off your computer without your knowledge.

The frightening thing about malware is that you may not even know it’s on your computer until you look for it. If your teen complains about their computer’s performance, though, or if they claim that their web browsers are “acting weird” (prompting browsers to flood the screen with pop-up windows and erratic results on search engines are two common symptoms of computers infected with spyware), take action immediately.

What’s more, if your teen downloads a trojan horse, it’s entirely possible that they’ll give the harmless-looking software all the permission it needs to damage your computer or steal vital information, including passwords and credit card numbers. So in addition to a robust virus detection program, it’s essential that you warn teens—and other users of your household computers—to be aware of the risks of downloading software from the internet, and to be leery of downloading any type of application from a non-reputable vendor.

Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to protect your teen’s computer: anti-virus software will take care of many of the greatest threats to your computer. Some manufacturers, like Apple, will provide anti-virus software for free, as will many internet service providers. Note, though, that anti-virus software needs to be updated to be effective.

Protect Your Mobile Hardware

Many of the same precautions you take with your laptops should be taken with mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that might contain similar types of sensitive information, or might be used to access personal information via the internet. Encourage your teen to use password protection and enable the device locator function on every device they own.

At the same time, it’s not a good idea for teens to allow apps, in general, to use location services, since these may reveal where they live. Many devices will allow you to select what apps can use your location, so it might be worth the time to sit down with your teen and look at their phone or tablet’s location settings—to make sure, for example, that when they put a picture of their dog up on Instagram, they won’t also post your home address.

Everyone loves the camera function on their phones, but they present another risk that comes with mobile devices. Even with the location function turned off, photos taken and shared online can, by sending landmarks out over social networks, provide almost as much location information as a phone’s location services function. Suggest to your teen that they take some care in choosing what shots to share, so they don’t reveal too much about where they live.

ID Theft

So why is it so risky for a teen to reveal where they are? Revealing credit card numbers, or passwords to online merchant accounts presents an obvious risk. But why would an address—or a photograph that gives their address away—cause problems?

Unfortunately, teens are just as susceptible to identity theft as adults, and for teens, the consequences of someone using their information to apply for a credit card or access other financial resources can be just as bad, if not worse, than the consequences for an adult. Since teens don’t have a credit history already, having an identity thief run down their credit rating can make building a decent credit history an uphill battle from the very start.

Even apparently innocuous information, like an address or a birth date—information that many people, not just teens, will sometimes include in their social media profiles—can be enough for a criminal to apply for a credit card, for example. And while you may stay on top of what they post on social media, teens, like adults, can also give out that information in an act of forgetfulness. Online quizzes or surveys are sometimes really just mechanisms by which scam artists try to get useful intel (a quiz might ask “what’s your mother’s maiden name?” for example, in order to get the answer to one of the most popular security questions).

Teens should be cautioned against putting up too much identifying information online. Birthdates are out; addresses should be, too. Even if the information doesn’t seem like it’s going to be collected in any permanent way, there’s still a chance that it will be, and that it will be used by a scam artist to destroy a teen’s financial reputation before they’ve even had a chance to build it.

“Unfortunately, teens are just as susceptible to identity theft as adults.”

Scams and Online Shopping

 

  • Only Make Sales Through Reputable Platforms
  • Look Out for Hidden or Extra Fees 
  • Review Your App Subscriptions 
  • Limit Your Teen's Online Spending

Online scam artists have other schemes besides identity theft, however. Online shopping presents its own dangers. In the notorious case mentioned above, a teenaged girl thought she was buying an expensive prom dress at a bargain price only to discover that the dress she received in the mail didn’t match the online photo at all. It was cheaply made, poorly fitted, and impossible to return.

Again, these are risks that even adults fail to see in time, but you can help your teen avoid getting taken in by insisting on having a look at any purchase they make online. You can also insist that any sales go through reputable vendors like Amazon, or that, at the very least, they go through reputable sales platforms like eBay, where it’s possible to get purchase protection and the site’s management provides tools and assistance in resolving customer complaints.

Some scams involve more than just a single purchase. Teens should, for example, be aware of one scam that promises “free” ringtones but charges a high monthly fee that the teen might not be aware of until it shows up on your credit card statement.

Both these online scams involve disreputable businesses. But some online shopping risks are harder to spot. The teen years are probably too late for the “I didn’t know” excuse for in-app purchases, the $800 iTunes bills that are the stuff of legend. But some smartphone apps involve “subscriptions” that it’s easy to forget about, and that can ding your credit card for three, four, or five dollars on a weekly basis.

So it makes sense to review your accounts on iTunes or other app marketplaces to make sure such subscriptions aren’t adding up. If they are, the best recourse is just to mention them to your teen and ask them to be more careful in the future.

Finally, there are ways to limit your teen’s online spending. iTunes offers an “allowance” feature that will deposit a set amount in an iTunes account on a regular basis rather than simply giving the account unlimited access to a credit card. Many online marketplaces, from Amazon to Google Play, offer gift cards that can be redeemed online (this approach also keeps teens using more reputable retailers). Many online retailers will also accept cash cards—that is, what are essentially prepaid credit cards–as payment. And if you’re interested in high-tech solutions, you might want to look into VeeLoop, an app that allows your teen to seek your approval for items in their virtual shopping carts before an online vendor processes their purchase.

Social Media: Online & In Public

As bad as they are, scams and malware aren’t the only online dangers. Social media has dramatically expanded the amount of their lives that teens can live online. And while social media allows teens to keep up with friends and family, even across vast distances, a lot of life’s dangers have followed them online as well.

Remember: social media is designed to convince users that they’re a part of a community. And while they do function as virtual communities, it’s easy to forget how many people can be privy to online conversations between friends. That’s why many teens may, without thinking, reveal vital information of the kind that’s most useful for ID theft and other criminal acts. Beyond that, wherever kids congregate, there’s a possibility for hurtful or inappropriate behavior, and the virtual world is no different.

There are many social networks, but here’s a look at some of the most popular.

 

FACEBOOK

Many teens will have a profile on Facebook without using it much. Even so, Facebook’s platform allows for interactions with strangers, and its various levels of privacy and multiple means of sharing can make what seem like private interactions more public than a user may realize.

TWITTER

Like Facebook, Twitter isn’t the most popular teen social media platform, and while teens should continue to take care with it—and parents should be aware that there’s no way to prevent teens from coming across adult material, and no particularly effective means of stopping harassment—it’s tamer than some online outlets.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is much more popular among teens, and it’s based primarily on sharing images which people in a user’s network can then comment on. Because it’s based on images, Instagram can tempt teens to post embarrassing or inappropriate images online, but it has similar privacy settings to Facebook, which means that the user can exercise some control over who can see their content.

SNAPCHAT

Snapchat takes Instagram a step further: it’s also based on sharing images presented as an occasion for comments. These images disappear after a few seconds, however, so things that appear on Snapchat may seem to be gone forever. As it happens, however, most devices can capture any images that appears on its screen. And while Snapchat now notifies users that when someone takes a screen grab of an image they’ve put up, some apps allow users to circumvent this feature. As a result, Snapchat is even more likely to lure teens into thinking an inappropriate or embarrassing picture will never be seen again.

This may seem like an unmanageable array of platforms—and this list leaves out some other, less-used sites as well. But if you’re concerned about your teen’s online life, there are some easy ways to keep tabs on what they’re up to. You can ask what platforms they use most frequently and check their profile pages.

You can also use a search engine to search for your teen’s name and see what results you get: if their social media profiles appear in search results, they may not be using their privacy settings appropriately. If that’s the case—and even if it isn’t—sit down with your teen and look at each social network site’s privacy settings to make sure that no sensitive information or embarrassing material can come in reach of people they don’t know. And if you’re active on social media, one simple way to keep up with your teen’s online life is to follow or friend them yourself.

Given the various ways social media platforms make it easy to share photos, you may also want to talk to your teen about what constitutes “embarrassing” or “inappropriate.” It’s possible that they may have a different perspective than you, of course, but it’s also possible that they’re defining those terms without taking into consideration how far an image can spread, and how permanent it may be. Knowing that a future love interest, or an elderly relative, might someday see a comment or image they post online may change the teen’s perspective.

Meeting People Online: Stalkers and Predators

All parents fear the possibility of their child coming in contact with strangers who mean to do them harm. The risk of that happening through online interactions, and through social media, in particular, is very real. That’s because sensitive information isn’t only a boon to scammers hoping to profit off of identity theft: carelessly spread information, and thoughtless interactions with unknown people, can also put teens at risk of encountering stalkers, predators, and others who could harm them physically or emotionally.

One threat that’s easier to avoid is that of the stalker, a person who gradually gathers information about a person in order to harass them or violate their privacy. You should remind your teen that even the blandest photo can reveal information about their age, what school they go to, where they live, and even times that they’re most likely (or least likely) to be alone. Privacy settings may help prevent the wrong people from getting that information, but teens should also use that awareness to restrict what they’ll give away in their profiles, pictures, or in an ordinary exchange of comments or messages.

Predators—people who work to gain a youth’s confidence either in order to build an inappropriate relationship or in order to lure them into inappropriate behavior—are a bigger online safety concern. Many of the most popular social media sites or apps, including Instagram and Snapchat, are effectively electronic messaging services, and beyond the world of social media, teens can often get drawn into online forums, chat rooms, or other venues where they can have extended exchanges with people they don’t know.

These virtual interactions have been a boon for online predators: according to statistics put out by the FBI and United Nations, at any given time there are 750,000 predators online looking to foster inappropriate, and sometimes illegal, relationships with teens. And there have been bad outcomes: teens have been lured into abductions and into sexual situations, and have been subject to sexual assault as a result of relationships begun online. And there’s a chance that none of the exchanges leading up to such an outcome will be easily visible to parents.

750,000 Predators are online looking to foster inappropriate relationships with teens at any given time.

One way to prevent such horror stories is simply to educate the teen. The website onlinesense.org, for example, offers a list of ways to recognize someone who’s trying to lead you into a potentially dangerous situation. For example, predators will:

  • Want to have private conversations with their targets.
  • Insist that their online relationships be kept a secret. 
  • Ask their targets to provide personal information, like their addresses, their full names, or phone numbers. 
  • Tend to do some stalking online to uncover information about their targets—and then make a show of how much they know. 
  • Ask their targets a barrage of questions in order to get their targets to release more personal information. 
  • Try to convince their targets that everything they’re doing, and all the information they’re revealing, is perfectly normal.

Many of these behaviors would, of course, be easily spotted as obnoxious or creepy if they were done by a stranger the teen met in person, and that’s probably the best way to communicate the warning signs here: ask the teen to imagine themselves alone in a strange place with a stranger pestering them with questions or telling them to keep their meeting a secret. Remind them, too, that in the online world, it’s easy for someone to assume an identity: the 12 year old girl mentioned at the beginning of this article had been convinced by her abductor that he was also a teen, even though he was in his mid thirties. So don’t just encourage your teen to imagine a stranger asking them questions: have them imagine a stranger wearing a mask.

If you suspect your teen may already be in contact with someone who doesn’t have their best interests at heart, it may be daunting to bring up the subject. Again, though, linking the issue to real life may be your best bet. You can, as you would with real acquaintances, ask to be (virtually) introduced. If a teen seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time in chat rooms, you can set limits as you would on any other social activity—and insist on being able to view browser histories in order to keep track. You can approach one of the teen’s trusted peers, older relatives, or mentors and ask them to do a reality check or inquire what’s going on. Teens often rebel against control, but they’re also often swayed by genuine and respectful concern.

When the Predators Aren’t Strangers: Online Bullying

Unfortunately, your teen’s emotional well-being may not be threatened by strangers only. Online bullying is a real possibility as well and can have devastating effects, leading to long-term problems with self-esteem. Bullying can also lead to depression and (in some tragic instances) suicide.

As with real-life bullying, the shame associated with the experience can make it difficult for a teen to seek help or advice. Because the online world provides harassers with potentially unassailable anonymity, this, too, can make the teen unwilling to speak out. So it’s important to look for signs. If your teen:

  • Is avoiding online activities (such as gaming or social media) that they used to enjoy, and yet don’t seem to have traded these activities for something else they like to do
  • Seems to be relieved when coming away from their computer or device, as if they’ve just had an unpleasant experience
  • Seems to be routinely dismayed by messages they receive or by other interactions with people on their mobile device or computer
  • Are suddenly becoming much more secretive about their online experiences
  • Are showing signs of depression

They may be subject to bullying online.

If that’s the case, though, what can you do? You should, first of all, try to talk to your teen. According to Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, your first step should always be to sit down, ask what’s going on, provide unconditional support without “freaking out,” and very much take a problem-solving approach to the situation. Document the abuse, be ready to report it to the authorities and keep lines of communication open between you.

Understand, too, that even if your teen isn’t being bullied, they may very well know of someone who is. If you can, encourage your teen to report bullying, if only to you. And just in case, remind them that in many jurisdictions the online harassment that we call cyberbullying is actually a crime, and can have serious repercussions for them if they’re involved. Even if they never become a cyber bully themselves, the fact that bullying is illegal may be enough for them to convince friends or acquaintances not to join in when others do it.

58% Of Teens Have Downloaded an App to Their Cell Phone or Tablet

How to Handle Gaming

One online community in which bullying is especially prevalent is online gaming. Not that bullying is an unavoidable feature of such games: many teens may find a valuable social outlet in the community that springs up around their favorite role-playing game, or around the online component of their favorite console games. What’s more, many games themselves teach valuable lessons about teamwork, problem-solving, and other important developmental skills.

At the same time, however, online games, just like neighborhood sports, can be an occasion for trash talk which then escalates to harassment or bullying. Especially for a teen whose social life revolves around an online community, the effect can be traumatic. As with other types of bullying, keep tabs on your teen’s mood and behavior, and try to look for signs that you might have a problem. Nor is bullying the only risk that online games present. Often games will include forums for online communication, and these can serve as tools for predators in the same way as social media.

Finally, like other online activities, online gaming can gradually take over more and more of a teen’s life until it becomes an addiction.

If you’re concerned about this prospect, here are some tell-tale warning signs of internet gaming addiction:

  • Obsessively thinking about gaming, even when the teen isn’t playing.
  • Lying about gaming activities—to family and friends
  • Deep distress when gaming activities are curtailed for any reason. 
  • Lack of interest in other activities, and neglect of hygiene, schoolwork, or other responsibilities, whether in the household or outside of it.

If you suspect that your teen may be addicted to gaming, the first approach, as always, is to talk to them. Try to set limits and seek to tie the privilege of gaming to responsibilities they may be neglecting. If these approaches don’t work, you might want to try counseling or other professional help. A video game addiction is unlikely to be as damaging or difficult to overcome as an addiction to alcohol or drugs, but soldiering on against it without help is just as likely to damage your relationship with your teen.

Should My Teen Have a Blog?

Absolutely! Blogging—and webcasting videos via YouTube—can be a great creative outlet, and may inspire your teen to acquire the skills and dedication of a successful blogger, or the technical savvy (and even greater dedication) that a successful video channel requires. What’s more, bloggers, Youtubers, and podcasters (people who disseminate audio content via iTunes or other platforms) can in rare instances earn money from their efforts, which adds a key incentive for teens to persevere.

At the same time, these outlets present some of the same dangers as other online activities. They can be a way for stalkers and predators to learn personal information about your teen, and—even more than social media—they put your teen’s actions, attitudes, and behaviors on public display, putting them at risk of later embarrassment or shaming, and even possible legal consequences if they say the wrong thing.

If your teen is putting content online, be sure to go over with them the various risks of putting out personal information on the internet. And you may also want to lay down some ground rules, such as requiring all content to get your approval before it’s put out for the rest of the world to see.

92%A survey of more than 600 teens found that nearly all shared their real name and photos of themselves, and most shared their school name, birthdate, and where they lived.

Some Common Sense Guidelines

In a world full of screens, it may seem futile to fight them for your teen’s attention. And yet you are your teenager’s anchor to the real world, and you may be the only one in their lives seeking to protect them from life’s dangers. That being the case, here are some general internet safety tips you can try as you work to keep your teen safe online.

  • Insist that your teen employ privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. If the teen uses a shared computer for their online life, make sure that the computer stays in a common area in the house. This shouldn’t be done so you can look over their shoulders, but rather so you can get a glimpse of how their online life affects them (an essential for cyberbully prevention) and keep tabs on the amount of time they’re spending. If you’re concerned, this will also allow you to check their browser history.
  • Enforce general norms against screen use and online activity. “No phones at the table” is a good place to start, as is a set time to turn screens and phones off, enforced on school nights, or on any night when the teen needs to show up somewhere the next morning. If these limits turn out to be bigger battles than you expect, that will at least alert you to potential problems
  • Resist allowing the teen to use screens or phones in their rooms, even if those devices are properly theirs. Phones may be too much of a battle (and may be impractical to enforce), but try to keep their gaming screens, tablets, or computers out. This will help them get better sleep, and will once again allow you to get a glimpse of how they’re conducting themselves online
  • If you want to more closely monitor your teen’s online activities, consider taking advantage of some of the apps or software designed for that purpose, including Net Nanny, which allows you to control what websites your kids access, and will even warn you if your teen searches for an objectionable term. Secure Teen keeps call logs and allows you to read text messages. Teen Safe does all of this and more—including locking teens out of messaging when they’re driving and allowing you to track them via GPS.

In the end, remember that helping your teen through life’s challenges—online and offline—is as much about communication as it is about control. Given enough time and the endless resources of the internet, teens can usually circumvent even the best apps and cheat the tightest household restrictions. But they won’t be able to hide their emotions if they have a problem, and whatever happens, they’re still going to want your approval. So take teens’ online lives seriously, but don’t forget that their online lives are still their lives, and part of the process by which they become adults.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines security as measures taken to guard against espionage or sabotage, crime, attack, or escape. Those descriptive words also apply to the protections you must take when you're online to safeguard your security and privacy. We all realize by now that the Internet is full of hackers looking to steal anything of value, but worse yet, the government that has pledged to be ‘by the people, for the people’ often intrudes on our privacy in the name of national security.

This guide, however, is not for those engaged in covert activities that need would shielding from the prying eyes of the NSA. It is intended to be a basic guide for people who use the Internet on a daily basis for:

  • Work
  • Social Media Activity
  • E-commerce

Whether your online activity is largely confined to a desktop, or you're a mobile warrior on the go, implementing the proper security and privacy protocols can protect you from hackers and also prevent your ISP provider from knowing every single website you’ve ever accessed.

What follows is a basic guide that anyone can use to beef up online security and ensure as much privacy as possible, while being mindful that total anonymity on the Web is nearly impossible.

ONLINE SECURITY FOR DESKTOPS, LAPTOPS, AND MOBILE DEVICES

Install Software Updates

At the minimum, you need to make sure that you install the most recent software updates on all your desktop and mobile devices. We know that updates can be a pain, but they can ensure that your software is as secure as possible.

In fact, you will often notice that many update messages are related to some type of security glitch that could make it easier for someone to gain access to your information through the most common browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

If you take your sweet time installing an update, it gives hackers that much more time to gain access to your system through the security flaw that the update was designed to fix.

Most of the major brands such as Apple and Samsung will send users messages on their desktops, laptops and mobile devices the moment they release a security update.

For example, Apple recently released new security updates for its iPhones, iPads and Macs for a computer chip flaw known as Spectre. This flaw affected billions of devices across all the major systems, including iOS.

Apple immediately sent a message to all its mobile users to install an update, which included security patches to block hackers from exploiting the flaw in the chip. The company also sent emails to desktop users to install Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.2, which included fixes to Safari for laptops and desktops.

The point is that you don’t need to worry that you won’t get these update prompts, because it’s in the best interests of the major brands to keep a massive hack from occurring. But if you want to ensure that you never miss an important update, there are several tools that can help you achieve this goal...

Update Tools for Mac Users

MacUpdate/MacUpdate Desktop – These two companion apps scan your desktop or mobile devices to locate software that needs updating. The desktop version has a menu bar that informs you when a software update is complete. The basic updating function is free to all users, but there are premium tiers that are ad-free, and include a credit system that rewards you for every new software you buy.

Software Update – This is a built-in app that you access through the Apple menu that opens the Mac App Store app and lets you click on the Updates tab. Software Update analyzes all the apps you’ve downloaded from the Mac App store to see if they’re updated. It does the same thing for your operating system software, which is a nice bonus.

Update Tools for PC Users

Patch My PC – If you choose the auto-update feature on this free tool, it automatically installs software patches on any application that has a security update. If you run the manual version, the program quickly scrolls through updated and non-updated applications and lets you check the ones you want to update and patch. One other useful aspect of this program is that you can run it using a flash drive.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ENCRYPTION

Encryption is a fancy word for a code that protects information from being accessed. There are various levels of encryption, and at the highest levels, encryption offers you the strongest protection when you are online. Encryption scrambles your online activity into what looks like a garbled, unidentifiable mess to anyone who doesn’t have the code to translate that mess back to its real content.

The reason this is important is that protecting your devices with only a password won’t do much to protect your data if a thief steals the device, accesses the drive and copies the data onto an external drive. If that device is encrypted, the data that the thief accesses and ports to another drive will still remain encrypted, and depend on the level of encryption, it will either take that thief a long time to break the code, or the thief will not be able to crack it.

Before we dive into some of the basics of encrypting desktops and mobile devices, remember that encryption has some drawbacks.

  • The main one is that if you lose the encryption key, it can be very difficult to access your data again. 
  • Second, encryption will affect the speed of your device because it saps the capacity of your processor.

This is a small price to pay, however, for all the benefits encryption offers in terms of security from intrusion and privacy from prying eyes that want to know exactly what you’re up to on the Internet.

Basic Encryption for Apple Devices

If you own an Apple mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad, these devices are sold with encryption as a standard feature, so all you need is a good passcode.

If you own a Mac desktop or laptop device, you can encrypt your device by using the FileVault disk encryption program that you access through the System Preferences menu under the ‘Security’ pull-down. Just follow the easy-to-understand directions to obtain your encryption key.

Basic Encryption for PCs and Android Devices

If you own a PC, you will need to manually encrypt your device. You can encrypt the newer PC models using BitLocker, a tool that’s built into Windows. BitLocker is only available if you buy the Professional or Enterprise versions of Windows 8 and 10, or the Ultimate version of Windows 7.

If you choose not to use BitLocker, Windows 8.1 Home and Pro versions include a device encryption feature that functions very much like BitLocker.

Newer Android phones including the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, have default encryption. But for phones that are not encryption enabled, the process is not difficult.

For phones and tablets that run on Android 5.0 or higher, you can access the Security menu under Settings and select ‘Encrypt phone’ or ‘Encrypt tablet.’ You will have to enter your lock screen password, which is the same password necessary to access your files after encryption.

For phones and tablets that run on Android 4.4 or lower, you must create a lock screen password prior to initiating the encryption process.

PROTECT YOUR TEXT MESSAGING

Even before Edward Snowden became a household name with his explosive revelations about the extent of NSA’s wiretapping of Americans, it was obvious that text messages were vulnerable to interception by outside parties.

What’s even more insidious is that the information generated from your text messages, which is known as metadata, is extremely valuable. Metadata includes information about whom you communicate with, where that communication takes place and at what time.

Hackers and government agencies can learn a great deal about you through metadata, which is why it’s so important for you to protect the privacy of your text messages.

Fortunately, there are applications you can install to encrypt your text messages after they are sent to another person, and many don’t collect metadata.

Tools to Encrypt Your Text Messages

The signal is a free app that provides end-to-end encryption for Android and iOS, which means that only the people who are communicating on the text message can read the messages.

Any other party would need the encryption key to decrypt the conversation, and that includes the company that owns the messaging service. One of the big advantages of using Signal is that it collects very little metadata.

Another popular encrypted messaging service is WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, which works mostly on mobile devices. Remember to turn off all backups on your WhatsApp account by accessing Chats, then Chat Backup and setting Auto Backup to Off. This turns off backups on the app and the cloud.

If you don’t disable the Auto Backup feature, government and law enforcement agencies can access the backup with a search warrant. Why is that so risky? Because end-to-end encryption only covers the transmission of your messages and doesn’t protect messages that are in storage. In other words, law enforcement or government agencies could read the text messages stored in a cloud backup.

One other thing to remember is that although WhatsApp is considered one of the more secure apps for encrypting text messages, it does collect metadata.

And if a government or law enforcement agency obtained a search warrant, it could force Facebook to turn over that metadata, which would reveal things you might want kept private such as IP addresses and location data.

PROTECT YOUR BROWSING HISTORY

Whenever you’re on the Internet, there are people trying to see what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and how often you’re doing it. Not all these prying eyes have ill intent, and in many cases, they are marketers who are trying to track your online movements so they can target you for ads and offers. But enterprising hackers are also monitoring your activities, looking for weaknesses they can target to obtain your personal information. And your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gathers a ton of information based on your browsing history.

In the face of all these threats to privacy, how do you protect yourself when you’re online?

You can use a virtual private network (VPN), which acts exactly the way a standard browser does, but lets you do it anonymously. When you use a VPN, you connect to the Internet using the VPN provider’s service. All transmissions that occur when you get online with your mobile phone, tablet, desktop or laptop are encrypted. This protects all your online activity from the government as well as from your ISP, lets you access sites that would normally be restricted by your geographical location, and shields you from intrusion when you are at a public hotspot.

If someone tries to track your activity, your IP address will appear as that of the VPN server, which makes it nearly impossible for anyone to know your exact location, or your actual IP address. However, VPNs don’t provide you with total anonymity, because the VPN provider knows your real IP address as well as the sites you’ve been accessing. Some VPN providers offer a ‘no-logs’ policy, which means that they don’t keep any logs of your online activities.

This can be hugely important if you are up to something that the government takes an interest in, such as leading a protest group, and you want to make sure none of your online activities can be tracked.

But VPN providers are vulnerable to government search warrants and demands for information and must measure the possibility of going to jail by keeping your activity private, versus giving up your information and staying in business.

That’s why if you choose to go with a VPN, it’s important to do the research on a provider’s history and reputation. For example, there are 14 countries in the world that have shared agreements about spying on their citizens and sharing the information they unearth with each other. It may not surprise you to learn that the U.S,  Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy are all part of that alliance.

What may surprise you is that it’s best to avoid any VPNs that are based in one of these 14 countries, because of their data retention laws and gag orders which prevent VPN providers from telling their customers when a government agency has requested information on their online activities.

If you’re serious about VPNs and want to know which are trustworthy and which aren’t worth your time, we’ve done a pretty extensive review of VPN services that you can access here. Used correctly, VPNs can provide you with a high degree of privacy when you’re online, but in an era in which billions have joined social media platforms such as Facebook, and services such as Google, what are the privacy risks related to how these companies use your personal information?

HOW THE HEAVY HITTERS USE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Facebook

There isn’t much privacy when you join Facebook, especially since the company’s privacy policy blatantly states that it monitors how you use the platform, the type of content you view or interact with, the number of times you’re on the site, how long you spend on the site, and all the other sites that you browse when you’re not on Facebook.

How does Facebook know that little nugget? By tracking the number of times you click ‘Like’ on any site that includes a Facebook button.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to make Facebook more private. You can access the ‘Download Your Information’ tool to know exactly what the site has on you, and you can check your activity log to track your actions since you joined Facebook, but that’s about it.

Deleting your account will remove your personal information, but any information about you that your followers have shared in a post will remain on the site.

Google

Google stores personal information such as your name, email contact, telephone number, how you use the service, how you use sites with Ad Words, your search inquiries, and location tracking. More importantly, your name, email address, and photo are publically available unless you opt out.

To protect some of your privacy, you can edit a number of preferences, turn off location tracking, change your public profile and read what information Google has collected on you through the company’s data board.

Apple

Apple’s privacy policy states that it collects information such as your name, contacts and music library content, and relays them to its own servers using encryption. Apple’s News app analyzes your reading preferences to match them to ads targeted toward what you like.

Targeted advertising is one of Apple’s biggest con jobs, and that’s said with respect for the company’s ability to print money like no other business on earth. Apple has created ad-blocking technology in its iOS software to prevent outside companies from reaching its customers.

But it makes no bones about using personal information and personal preferences culled from its customers to supply them with an endless stream of targeted and intrusive ads.

You can opt out of what Apple calls ‘interest-based ads’, but the company pretty much lets you figure this out on your own.

Amazon

Amazon collects a ton of person information, including name, address, phone number, email, credit card information, list of items bought, Wish List items, browsing history, names, addresses and phone numbers of every person who has ever received an Amazon product or service from you, reviews you’ve posted, and requests for product availability alerts.

It isn’t much you can do to keep Amazon from being intrusive unless you’re not planning on using the site for purchases. For example, Amazon uses ‘cookies,’ which are snippets of data that attach to your browser when you visit the site.

Cookies activate convenient features such as 1-Click purchasing and generate recommendations when you revisit Amazon, but they also allow Amazon to send you ads when you’re on another website, which can feel like an invasion of privacy and are also annoying.

The problem is if you opt to turn off cookies on your Amazon account, you won’t be able to add items to your shopping cart or do anything that requires a sign-in, which pretty much eliminates all your buying options.

That gives you a general overview of how some of the big brands use your data so you’re aware of the implications of providing your personal information. Let’s wrap things up with some frequently asked questions about security and privacy.

FAQ'S ABOUT SECURITY AND PRIVACY

1. Can people really hack me at a coffee shop?

Most coffee shops offer public WiFi that has varying levels of security. In many instances, these free networks are not very secure, and even a low-level hacker could gain access to the transmissions occurring at the coffee shop by setting up a fake hotspot. If you want to get online at a coffee shop, do so through a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, make sure you’re signing in under the name of the WiFi hotspot, and limit your activity to browsing instead of conducting financial transactions.

2. Is the NSA really watching me via my computer camera?

The NSA definitely has the technology to spy on you through your webcam. Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has plug-in that can hack cameras and take pictures, record video and turn on the mic on a webcam to act as a listening device. One easy way to thwart this hack is to place a sticker on your webcam lens that prevents a hacker from seeing anything in your home.

3. Can Facebook see my messenger chats and change my feed based on those conversations?

Facebook’s Messenger feature uses security that it says is similar to what banks use to protect their clients’ financial information. Two years ago, Facebook added end-to-end encryption to its messenger feature, but users must activate it because it’s not a default. However, Facebook does use your profile, public photos, and public posts to better customize things such as the content of the News feed it sends to you.

4. When can - or can’t - the government get personal data from companies?

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed in 1986, government agencies can obtain subpoenas and search warrants to force technology companies like Google or Apple to provide information about a user or a group of users. Companies can refuse based on the Fourth Amendment ban against unreasonable search and seizure, but they face an uphill battle if the request is for a legitimate reason. Recently, Amazon refused an order by the state of Massachusetts to turn over data about third-party sellers. But the company relented after it was served with court order to provide the data or face legal consequences.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

Privacy and security are two sides of the same coin, and while there is no way to guarantee total privacy or complete security in the digital world, the first step is to understand the tools available to you, and the ways in which your personal data is being used by big companies that want your business.

While this isn’t a comprehensive guide to every aspect of online security and privacy, it provides you with some best practices and important concepts that can help you better understand this complex and ever-changing issue. 

 Written By Alex Grant

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Privacy is more important than ever. The Internet may be the best thing since sliced bread, but as we come to rely on it more and more in our daily life we risk exposing our data to attackers. Here at Cloudwards.net we figured we would help out our readers with a thorough online privacy guide that will keep you safe while your browse the world wide web.

We’ll look at the steps you can take to ensure your privacy, whether you’re just browsing or downloading torrents. However, we’re not here to help you hide from three-letter agencies that are actively searching for you: if you’re the next Edward Snowden, you’ll have to take extraordinary measures that are well out of the scope of this article.

With that said, let’s first take a look at the threats the average user will face while on the Internet.

Privacy Under Attack

According to the Pew Research Center, half the U.S. population do not trust the government or social media to protect their data and 64 percent have experienced a major security breach of some description.

It’s not just hackers and scammers that we have to worry about. Governments around the world seem to want to get their hands on citizens’ data, too. Claiming a desire to thwart future terrorist attacks, some politicians want to require corporations to backdoor their software and purposefully weaken or break encryption so that law enforcement can more easily eavesdrop on users.

For example, the FBI wanted Apple to provide them with a backdoor to access encrypted iPhones, a request which Apple, thankfully, declined. As encryption becomes easier to deploy and use, cases like this will continue to crop up in the news until lawmakers learn that all back doors are simply another vector for criminals to attack innocent users — or for ISPs to sell customer data.

The upshot is that your privacy is at risk, whether from politicians or hackers, and it’s futile to rely on corporations or lawmakers to safeguard your private data. Your privacy is your responsibility and you need to grab this bull by the horns yourself if you want your data to stay yours.

Threat Models

A threat model is used to establish what steps to take to keep something secure. Software developers and security researchers use threat modeling when writing software or designing security systems, deploying servers or other hardware. It’s useful for users as well, since security and privacy can seem like a fuzzy gray area for home users.

You need a threat model because there is no single tool to keep your data safe online or to protect your privacy. To begin, ask yourself two basic questions:

  • What do I want to protect?
  • Who am I protecting it from?

Security is situational, meaning someone backing up cat pictures faces very different threats than someone backing up sensitive documents for a business. Do you need to protect those cat pictures? Are they a likely target for attackers? Not really, so you wouldn’t want to expend too much effort on the task.

Documents, on the other hand, are definitely a target for attack. Hackers love to go after them as they contain a wealth of information, so sensitive documents are worth the extra effort it might take to make sure they remain private and secure.

By asking those two questions — what am I protecting, and from whom — we establish a threat model. Ask yourself what the consequences are if you fail to protect something and decide if it’s worth the risk. Even if it might seem like extra work, the tools and tips we provide here will make it easier to keep your data safe and help maintain your privacy.

Common Online Threats

Now that we know what a threat model is and how to establish one that meets your needs, let’s take a look at some of the most common threats online.

Ads and Tracking

Many users find ads to be annoying at the very least and PageFair released a report that shows the use of adblock software to be increasing rapidly. Ad blocking is a good thing as you’re not just making browsing more pleasant, you’re also preventing those ads from tracking you.

Some people don’t mind this, since such data is often used to create targeted advertisements for users. If the idea of your Internet activity being tracked doesn’t bother you then you don’t have to include this in your threat model.

For those who don’t want to be tracked, it’s important to understand how it works. A web browser creates a “fingerprint” that can be used to identify a user with great accuracy. Websites can request specific information from your browser, such as screen resolution, language or installed add-ons.

You can get an idea of how unique your browser fingerprint is at Panopticlick and Am I Unique?. Fingerprinting is hard to prevent, since installing more add-ons or tweaking your browser simply results in a more singular setup than you started with.

There is a way to minimize fingerprinting: use at least two separate browsers.

Let’s say you’re logged into Facebook on Chrome. You leave Facebook, and browse the web for a while. Any page that has a Facebook “like” button automatically reports back to Facebook and you’re still logged in so any pages you visit with a “like” button are tied to your account. You’ll see content and advertisements based on all the tracking data Facebook has accumulated.

By using two browsers — one for Facebook, say, and another for everything else — you keep your activities separate. That way, Facebook and google will have trouble linking your party pics to your WebMD searches. We’ll touch on this more in depth later on in the article, but for now simply decide whether tracking and advertisements are on your threat model.

Public WiFi

WiFi is available almost everywhere these days and many people connect their mobile phone or laptop to the first hotspot that pops up, often without a second thought. However, fake hotspots are easy to set up and often hard for users to distinguish from legitimate ones.

We’ve written in-depth about the dangers of public WiFi and it’s worth reading if you want to stay safe when using it. If you work in public spaces or use public wireless often, you should include it in your threat model; a few simple precautions will cut down the danger of hijacked connections considerably.

A virtual private network is your best bet here, so if you’re not sure what that is we’ll help you get up to speed and understand what a VPN is good for. Using a VPN goes a long way toward protecting you on wireless hotspots, but be sure to follow the basic guidelines below and use a plugin like HTTPS Everywhere, which we covered previously in our list of 99 free tools to protect your privacy.

General Privacy and Security Tips

Maintaining your privacy online requires a continuous effort. You can’t click a button and never worry about it again. By learning a few basic concepts and employing them every day, though, you’ll increase your security and privacy online and eventually it’ll become second nature.

Let’s start with what you can do on your own devices: encryption.

Encrypt Everything

One way to put your privacy at risk is when your computer is lost or stolen. Even if you have password protected it, there are ways to access the data on your hard drive. Stolen or lost devices, in fact, are estimated to contribute to 45 percent of healthcare and 25 percent of bank data breaches, and it’s usually due to unencrypted hard drives.

The major operating systems all include support for full-disk encryption, making it easy to encrypt your entire hard drive. This protects your device in the event it goes missing, but since you simply decrypt it when you login, it makes no real difference in the way you use your device.

Another way of keeping data safe is to not keep it on your hard drive at all, but in the cloud, instead. You can then rely on your cloud provider to handle the encryption of your data and have them keep it safe.

If you go this route, you’re probably best off going with any of our best zero-knowledge cloud services, like Sync.com or pCloud, both of which let you create and maintain control of your own encryption key. Alternatively, you can use a less secure provider and encrypt your files yourself.

In the past, I used TrueCrypt to create encrypted volumes and then stored those encrypted volumes in the cloud. TrueCrypt is no longer supported or considered safe to use, but there are several great TrueCrypt alternatives. I’ve personally moved on to using VeraCrypt.

Using a zero-knowledge service or encrypting your own files is a big responsibility, however, since if you lose your encryption keys or passphrase you’ll have no way to recover the encrypted data. Always keep copies of encryption keys stored someplace safe.

In addition to the files on your computer, consider encrypting text messages stored on your mobile device with user-friendly apps like Signal. Most Android and iOS phones offer system encryption via passcode, which we also recommend taking advantage of.

Anyone with a little spare time and $500 can build a stingray to impersonate a cell tower and intercept text messages. GSM, the protocol used by many mobile phone carriers, is broken and insecure. Given the ease of encrypting text messages and ease of spoofing cell towers, you should strongly consider including your mobile device usage in your privacy threat model.

Finally, we recommend that you consider securing your email. Email is insecure by default, as your messages can pass through many different servers before hitting their destination. Even if those servers use SSL to encrypt the data, there is no guarantee as to the security of each individual server.

Encrypting email is a little more difficult than encrypting text messages, but our email encryption guide provides straightforward instructions and explains essential terminology.

It still might take some time to grasp the basics, but after you send and receive a few encrypted emails, it will become second nature, especially with one of the plugins featured in our guide.

Password Security

The weakest link in information security is almost always the human element. People make mistakes, and when it comes to security one of the most common mistakes is choosing a terrible password and reusing it often.

The media frequently sensationalizes security breaches, always blaming it on hackers while criticizing large corporations for not protecting users. The truth is, corporations can’t be blamed when a someone picks an easily guessed password or falls for a phishing scam.

It’s the easiest avenue for attackers to pursue, preying on unsuspecting users that can’t spot a fake email or use “password123” everywhere they can. We previously covered several high-profile cases involving password fails, which illustrate that very point.

Thankfully, it’s actually not hard to pick a good password. We wrote a guide on choosing astrong password that goes into the logic behind password security and demonstrates how easy it is to pick a nearly unbreakable password.

There are many tools that make strong password creation easier, too, including password managers. Using a password manager requires the user to create and remember a single, lengthy and secure password that unlocks the user’s other passwords. Most password managers have browser plugins and other tools that make using them a seamless experience.

Another tactic you can take to protect yourself against password cracking is two-factor authentication, or 2FA. With 2FA, when logging into an online service from an unfamiliar machine, you’ll be asked enter another piece of information in addition to your normal credentials.

This piece of information is often a security code sent to your mobile device or a security token. This ensures that only you can access this information and is an essential tactic when keeping your data safe.

Use a VPN

We briefly mentioned VPNs earlier when covering public WiFi, but such tools do more than provide protection against digital eavesdropping: VPNs also protect you from marketers and anybody else who might want make use of your browsing data.

We already mentioned ISPs’ Congress-sponsored snooping, but also concerning is that service providers like Verizon and AT&T have been inserting perma-cookies to track users and injecting advertisements into web pages, invading the privacy of users and putting them at risk. Ad networks are often abused by malicious parties, and it’s easy to load malware into an advertisement.

By using a VPN, you can prevent ISP traffic logging and shady practices like those employed by Verizon and AT&T. VPN services can spoof your IP address with one of their own, effectively shielding your device identity and location. The tunnel created by a VPN encrypts traffic coming from your device, too. The net result is that only the VPN provider can see what you’re doing.

That’s why it’s important to find a VPN that doesn’t log traffic. Be especially careful of free VPNproviders. Many profit by actually selling your data to the very sorts of people you think you’re protecting yourself from.

We’ve created a VPN comparison chart that will help you pick a no-log VPN. We also wrote a short guide to VPNs that includes a breakdown of the best VPN providers for 2017.

General Privacy Tips

We’ve covered the basic things you can do to maintain your privacy and security online:

  • Use separate web browsers to compartmentalize your activity and prevent tracking
  • Be wary of public WiFi and use a VPN to stay safe
  • Encrypt everything: your devices, your data, emails and texts
  • Choose strong passwords and never, ever reuse a password
  • Keep a no-log VPN running to prevent traffic monitoring

It might seem like a tall order at first, but you can start by prioritizing and picking just one area to work on. Spend some time thinking about your own privacy needs, what matters to you and what you want to protect. In short, develop your threat model. Then, get to work.

Up next, we’ll look at some common day-to-day online activities (web browsing, chat and torrenting) and offer a few suggestions for how to increase your privacy for each.

Browsing Privately

We spend a good deal of time browsing every day, whether for work or play. In fact, Pew Research reports that 73 percent of Americans say they’re online every day and 21 percent say they’re online “almost constantly.”

The Internet is a lovely place, but it has its dark corners, too, and some less-than-nice people lurk there. We’ve discussed one privacy threat you might face, tracking, and mentioned both phishing and malware in passing.

Phishing is when malicious attackers impersonate a site or service, such as a bank or email provider, in an attempt to trick users into handing over sensitive information. Attackers have become adept at creating realistic pages that might fool all but the most suspicious of users.

Malware is malicious software designed to corrupt your computer. It’s often spread through pop-ups or advertisements, including fake antivirus warnings and updates. Be careful about clicking any such message: chances are someone is trying to scam you and infect your computer. Only update your operating system through the normal channels, like the control panel or app store, or by the package manager if using Linux.

It’s not difficult to avoid phishing sites or malware. By default, both Firefox and Chrome employ Google’s Safe Browsing Service to automatically identify and warn users when a site is known to contain malware and phishing links.

Always look for the SSL icon in the address bar — typically a little padlock — and read the website address to make sure you’re on the right page. Even that’s not a sure thing, though, as malicious sites may use SSL themselves. Always double-check the address, too. A common trick attackers use is to pick a domain with a typo, like “facebok.com” or something similar, hoping that users won’t notice the difference.

Chat

There are many clients for online chat, many of them free, and most users don’t stop to think about their privacy when using them. If you’re content with Facebook Messenger and chat privacy doesn’t factor into your personal threat model, keep doing what you’re doing. If you value your privacy and security, here’s what you can do.

First, you should use Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR) wherever you can. OTR provides encryption and authentication for instant messaging.

The best way to utilize OTR is with the XMPP protocol. XMPP is a free, open and decentralized protocol for instant messaging created in 1999 by Jeremie Miller. Jabber was the first IM technology built atop XMPP, and the popular app WhatsApp initially used a custom version of XMPP before switching to a closed, proprietary protocol.

You’ll need a client, which is simply a program that connects to the XMPP service. A few of the most popular clients that support OTR are:

To start using XMPP, you need to sign up for a public XMPP provider; there’s an excellent list provided by CryptoParty. Signing up is easy and there are plenty of free, public XMPP servers. Once you have an account you can chat with any other user across different XMPP servers.

I won’t get into detail on other chat apps, but we previously touched on some of the concerns regarding apps like WhatsApp and Telegram in another article. The short version: most use private/proprietary protocols, or custom codebases that lack the proven security and reliability of a protocol like XMPP, so it’s impossible to vouch for their security or privacy.

To recap: If you want to chat securely and privately, use a client like Pidgin along with a public XMPP server and the OTR plugin. Any other XMPP user can contact you since most servers are federated, and all of your instant messaging is encrypted and authenticated.

Torrents

The bittorrent protocol relies on each user sharing the file in question with the “swarm,” a term that refers to everyone downloading a particular torrent. Torrent clients will download and upload to other peers, which makes for an excellent, decentralized protocol for file sharing.

It’s also a privacy nightmare. Your IP is broadcast to the swarm and it’s trivial to get the IP address of all users downloading a torrent. Copyright lawyers monitor the most popular torrent sites and files using automated software, sending out millions of notices to ISPs and users, threatening legal action and hefty fines.

There are plenty of legitimate uses for torrents, such as sharing Linux ISOs, but regardless of your intentions the goal of this guide is to help you maintain your privacy. To hide your IP address while torrenting, there are two easy options: Use a VPN or use one of our best cloud torrent services.

We discussed VPNs earlier, but it’s worth mentioning that not all providers are torrent-friendly. Check out our top VPN reviews to find a good provider that allows torrents before you sign up for a VPN service. Speed tests are a crucial part of our reviews, and you’ll want the best speeds possible when downloading torrents with a VPN. Remember to look for a provider that doesn’t log your data, too.

If you don’t want to use a VPN, there’s always cloud torrenting. These clients download the torrents on your behalf, so your IP is never in the swarm, and they cache popular torrents so often times your files are instantly available. Many support streaming on their paid tiers, making this a convenient choice, but keep in mind these providers typically keep logs and would comply with court orders.

I’m not aware of this ever happening, and services like Put.io have been in business for quite some time without issue. For the those who value their privacy, I recommend a torrent-friendly, zero-logging VPN provider for downloading torrents. It may be less convenient, but it’s better for your privacy.

Conclusion

Privacy and security are complex topics and it would take many more pages to cover every aspect. Fortunately, unless you’re on the run from an intelligence agency, users can protect their privacy by following a few basic guidelines and staying aware of trends and threats as technology evolves.

Determine the threats to your privacy: What do you want to protect, and how hard are you willing to work to protect it? Learn about VPNs and pick a reputable provider to keep your traffic secure at home and on public WiFi. Encrypt all of your devices, as well as your texts, emails and other data. Be wary when browsing the web, avoiding common phishing scams and malware.

Put what you’ve learned here into practice slowly, and use it daily. After a while it becomes natural, and you’ll feel better knowing your data is secure. Your privacy is in your hands, and Cloudwards.net is here to help you safeguard it. We hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share it on social media and leave feedback in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

 

Source: This article was published cloudwards.net By James Crace

Categorized in Internet Privacy

President Trump will be watching and listening. Time to batten down the hatches.

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. This was the official declaration that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. That lesson carried into today’s America, thanks to our Founding Fathers’ abhorrence for imperialist Great Britain’s unwarranted search and seizure of personal documents.

They understood that everyone has something to hide, because human dignity and intimacy don’t exist if we can’t keep our thoughts and actions private. As citizens in the digital age, that is much more difficult. Malicious hackers and governments can monitor the most private communications, browsing habits and other data breadcrumbs of anyone who owns a smartphone, tablet, laptop or personal computer.

President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of encryption technology and interest in expanding government surveillance have technologists and civil libertarians deeply concerned.

As an ethical hacker, my job is to help protect those who are unable, or lack the knowledge, to help themselves. People who think like hackers have some really good ideas about how to protect digital privacy during turbulent times. Here’s what they – and I – advise, and why. I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the companies listed below, except in some cases as a regular user.

Phone calls, text messaging and email

When you’re communicating with people, you probably want to be sure only you and they can read what’s being said. That means you need what is called “end-to-end encryption,” in which your message is transmitted as encoded text. As it passes through intermediate systems, like an email network or a cellphone company’s computers, all they can see is the encrypted message. When it arrives at its destination, that person’s phone or computer decrypts the message for reading only by its intended recipient.

For phone calls and private text-message-like communication, the best apps on the market are WhatsApp and Signal. Both use end-to-end encryption, and are free apps available for iOS and Android. In order for the encryption to work, both parties need to use the same app.

For private email, Tutanota and ProtonMail lead the pack in my opinion. Both of these Gmail-style email services use end-to-end encryption, and store only encrypted messages on their servers. Keep in mind that if you send emails to people not using a secure service, the emails may not be encrypted. At present, neither service supports PGP/GPG encryption, which could allow security to extend to other email services, but they are reportedly working on it. Both services are also free and based in countries with strong privacy laws (Germany and Switzerland). Both can be used on PCs and mobile devices. My biggest gripe is that neither yet offers two-factor authentication for additional login security.

Avoiding being tracked

It is less straightforward to privately browse the internet or use internet-connected apps and programs. Internet sites and services are complicated business, often involving loading information from many different online sources. For example, a news site might serve the text of the article from one computer, photos from another, related video from a third. And it would connect with Facebook and Twitter to allow readers to share articles and comment on them. Advertising and other services also get involved, allowing site owners to track how much time users spend on the site (among other data).

The easiest way to protect your privacy without totally changing your surfing experience is to install a small piece of free software called a “browser extension.” These add functionality to your existing web browsing program, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. The two privacy browser extensions that I recommend are uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. Both are free, work with the most common web browsers and block sites from tracking your visits.

Encrypting all your online activity

If you want to be more secure, you need to ensure people can’t directly watch the internet traffic from your phone or computer. That’s where a virtual private network (VPN) can help. Simply put, a VPN is a collection of networked computers through which you send your internet traffic.

Instead of the normal online activity of your computer directly contacting a website with open communication, your computer creates an encrypted connection with another computer somewhere else (even in another country). That computer sends out the request on your behalf. When it receives a response – the webpage you’ve asked to load – it encrypts the information and sends it back to your computer, where it’s displayed. This all happens in milliseconds, so in most cases it’s not noticeably slower than regular browsing – and is far more secure.

For the simplest approach to private web browsing, I recommend Freedome by F-Secure because it’s only a few dollars a month, incredibly easy to use and works on computers and mobile devices. There are other VPN services out there, but they are much more complicated and would probably confuse your less technically inclined family members.

Additional tips and tricks

If you don’t want anyone to know what information you’re searching for online, use DuckDuckGo or F-Secure Safe Search. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t profile its users or record their search queries. F-Secure Safe Search is not as privacy-friendly because it’s a collaborative effort with Google, but it provides a safety rating for each search result, making it a suitable search engine for children.

To add security to your email, social media and other online accounts, enable what is called “two-factor authentication,” or “2FA.” This requires not only a user name and password, but also another piece of information – like a numeric code sent to your phone – before allowing you to log in successfully. Most common services, like Google and Facebook, now support 2FA. Use it.

Encrypt the data on your phone and your computer to protect your files, pictures and other media. Both Apple iOS and Android have settings options to encrypt your mobile device.

And the last line of privacy defense is you. Only give out your personal information if it is necessary. When signing up for accounts online, do not use your primary email address or real phone number. Instead, create a throw-away email address and get a Google Voice number. That way, when the vendor gets hacked, your real data aren’t breached.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.By Timothy Summers

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Today, with nearly half the world's population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.

And why not? Human beings have always enthralled themselves into one pursuit after another, all with a means to an end of improving our lives. Clearly, the conveniences afforded by the internet are quite literally earth-shattering to say the least. Three decades ago, few could have ever imagined the present state of our on-demand-everything society, with the ability to instantly communicate and conduct business in real-time, at a pace that often seems dizzying at the best of times.

However, with all of these so-called modern conveniences to life, where technology's ever-pervading presence has improved even the most basic tasks for us such as hailing a ride or ordering food or conducting any sort of commerce instantly and efficiently, many are left in the dark. While all of us have become self-professed experts at consuming content and utilizing a variety of tools given to us, all of the noise being created has effectively drowned us in a sea of digital overload.

The truth? Today, rising above the noise and achieving any semblance of visibility has become a monumental undertaking. How are we supposed to get notice while swimming in this sea of misinformation and disinformation? We've become immersed in this guru gauntlet where one expert after another is attempting to teach us how we can get the proverbial word out about our businesses and achieve visibility to drive more leads and sales. But we all still seem to be lost.

It's clear that online marketing is no simple task. And the reason why we've landed in this world of "expert" internet marketers who are constantly cheerleading their offers to help us reach visibility and penetrate the masses is because of the layer of obscurity that's been afforded to us in part thanks to one key player: Google. Google's shrouded algorithms that cloud over 200+ ranking factors in a simple and easy-to-use interface has confounded businesses for well over a decade now.

Understanding Online Marketing

Google's core algorithms and its propensity to shroud its data in layers of obscurity is not something new. However, it is critical to any understanding of marketing on the internet simply because this visibility is at the heart of everything else that you do. Forget about social media and other forms of marketing for the time being. Search engine optimization (SEO) offers up the proverbial key to near-limitless amounts of traffic on the web.

The better you learn and understand SEO and the more strides you take to learn this seemingly confusing and complex discipline, the more likely you'll be to appear organically in search results. And let's face it, organic search is important to marketing online. Considering that most people don't have massive advertising budgets and don't know the first thing about lead magnets, squeeze pages and sales funnels, appearing visible is critical towards long-term success.

When traffic is coming to your website or blog, nearly unfettered, it gives you the opportunity to test out a variety of marketing initiatives. However, without that traffic, you're forced to spend money on costly ads before really determining the effectiveness of your offers and uncovering your cost-per acquisition (CPA), two things which are at the core of scaling out any business online.

I liken this to a paradoxical Catch-22 scenario, because it seems like without one you can't have the other. It takes money to drive traffic, but it takes traffic to make money. So don't make the mistake that millions of other online marketers make around the world. Before you attempt to scale or send any semblance of traffic to your offers, be sure to split-test things to oblivion and determine your conversion rates before diving in headfirst.

Gaining Google's Trust

The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you're serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google's trust.

Gaining Google's trust doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. Think about building up your relationship with anyone. The longer you know that person, the more likely that trust will solidify. So, the reasoning is, that if Google just met you, it's going to have a hard time trusting you. If you want Google to trust you, you have to get other people that Google already trusts, to vouch for you. This is also known as link-building.

But I'm not talking about any kind of link building. I'm talking about organic link building by getting out there and creating insatiable "anchor content" on your website, then linking to that content with equally-great content that's created on authority sites like MediumQuoraLinkedIn and other publishing platforms. It's not easy by any measure. Google is far more wary of newcomers these days than it once used to be.

However, if you're going to understand online marketing, you have to understand the importance of building Google's trust. There are three core components involved here. These three core components are like the pillars of trust that comprise all of Google's 200+ ranking factor rules. Each of those rules can be categorized and cataloged into one of these three pillars of trust. If you want to rank on the first page or in the first spot, you need to focus on all three, and not just one or two out of three.

Trust Component #1: Indexed Age

The first component of Google's trust has to do with age. Age is more than a number. But it's not just the age when you first registered your website. The indexed age has to do with two factors: i) the date that Google originally found your website, and; ii) what happened between the time that Google found your website and the present moment in time.

Just think about any relationship for a moment. How long you've known a person is incredibly important. It's not the be-all-end-all, but it is fundamental to trust. If you've known someone for years and years and other people that you know who you already trust can vouch for that person, then you're far more likely to trust them, right? But if you've just met someone, and haven't really vetted them so to speak, how can you possibly trust them?

Trust Component #2: Authority

What's the authority of your website or webpage, or any other page on the internet for that matter where you're attempting to gain visibility? Authority is an important component of trust, and it relies heavily on quality links coming from websites that Google already trusts. Authority largely relates to the off-page optimization discipline of SEO that occurs away from the webpage as opposed to the on-page optimization that occurs directly on the webpage.

For example, what are the quality and quantity of the links that have been created over time? Are they natural and organic links stemming from relevant and high quality content, or are they spammy links, unnatural links or coming from bad link neighborhoods? Are all the links coming from the same few websites over time or is there a healthy amount of global IP diversification in the links?

Trust Component #3: Content

Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Creating insightful, engaging and unique content should be at the heart of any online marketing strategy. Too often, people simply don't obey this rule. The problem? This takes an extraordinary amount of work. However, anyone that tells you that content isn't important, is not being fully transparent with you. You cannot excel in marketing anything on the internet without having quality content.

Quality content is more likely to get shared. By staying away from creating "thin" content and focusing more on content that cites sources, is lengthy and it reaches unique insights, you'll be able to gain Google's trust over time. Remember, this happens as a component of time. Google knows you can't just go out there and create massive amounts of content in a few days. If you try to spin content or duplicate it in any fashion, you'll suffer a Google penalty and your visibility will be stifled.

An Overarching View Of Marketing On The Web

Okay, if you're still with me, fantastic. You're one of the few that doesn't mind wading through a little bit of hopeless murkiness to reemerge on the shores of hope. But before we jump too far ahead, it's important to understand what online marketing is and what it isn't. That definition provides a core understanding of what it takes to peddle anything on the web, whether it's a product, service or information.

When we talk about marketing on the internet, we're talking about driving traffic or boosting visibility via a number of means. Any type of advertising done on the internet to promote any product, person, service, business or place for that matter, can be deemed as online marketing. However, to succeed in this arena, whether it's SEO, social media, email marketing or beyond, you need to ensure you adhere to the three pillars of trust first and foremost.

Types Of Online Marketing

There are ten essential types of marketing that can be done online. Some of these can be broken down into organic marketing and others can be categorized as paid marketing. Organic, of course, is the allure of marketing professionals from around the planet. It's free and its unencumbered traffic that simply keeps coming. Paid marketing, on the other hand, is still a very attractive proposition as long as the marketing pays for itself by having the right type of offer that converts.

#1 -- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO should be a core tactic in any marketing strategy. While it might seem difficult to understand at first, as long as you find the right course, book or audiobook, and devote your time to learning, you'll be in good shape. Considering that there are over 200+ ranking factors in Google's current algorithms, learning, digesting and successfully implementing good SEO tactics is essential to the success of your website or blog.

  • Pay attention to the often-overlooked on-page optimization elements such as your page speed, which can be determined by using tools like GTMetrixPingdom and Google's own Page Speed Insights.
  • Leverage Google's new Accelerated Mobile Projects (AMP) specification to ensure that you appear relevantly on mobile searches using this new lightning-fast loading spec.
  • Utilized Google's Webmaster Tools for suggestions on fine-tuning your site's structured data, rich cards, and other HTML improvements such as discovering duplicate title and meta tags, and so on.
  • Read Google's Webmaster Guidelines and ensure that your content and your overall SEO strategies are in harmony with what the search giant is looking for.
  • Always build high quality, relevant content that's unique, insightful and engaging, paving the way for a higher likelihood of visitors sharing that content organically and naturally.

#2 -- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Organic SEO's flip-side offers up a paid method for marketing on search engines like Google. SEM provides an avenue for displaying ads through networks such as Google's Adwords and other paid search platforms that exist across the web throughout social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and even video sites like YouTube, which, invariably, is the world's second largest search engine.

By utilizing SEM, it provides you with a great avenue for getting the word out quickly and effectively. If you have the budget, then marketing on search engines for competitive keywords might be the right fit for you. But be prepared to pony up. Keywords can range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50 and more. The quality score for any term is reflective of what you can expect to pay for bidding on that keyword. The lower the competition, the lower the quality score and the lower the price.

However, SEM doesn't just cover paying for clicks, but also paying for impressions. That means, for example, that every 1000 times your ad is displayed, you pay a pre-arranged amount, regardless of whether anyone clicked on it or not. While this is a less popular form of advertising, it still exists today on some platforms.

#3 -- Social Media Marketing

One of the hottest forms of marketing anything online right now is through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, amongst others. Social media provides a near-direct avenue for reaching the masses, but it most certainly isn't a simple or easy thing to achieve saturation, especially when we're talking about millions of followers.

In a number of recent articles, where I've interviewed some of social media's rising stars such as Jason Stone from Millionaire MentorSean Perelstein, who built StingHD into a global brand and Nathan Chan from Foundr Magazine, amongst several others, it's quite clear that multi-million-dollar businesses can be built on the backs of wildly-popular social media channels and platforms.

However, getting that saturation is a frustrating process. Obviously, it doesn't happen overnight. Based on my conversations with numerous rising stars in social media, there are a few things that should be done when it comes to gaining attention through a variety of social media channels.

  • Find your voice: decide what your message is going to be and stick to it. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Make a decision and stay committed to it. Whether it's a topic, idea, niche, business or something else, do your best not to waver.
  • Be real and be yourself: people can see through those that try to put up a front on social media channels. Don't try to be something that you're not. Be real and be yourself. It will resonate with people.
  • Deliver value no matter what: Regardless of who you are and what you're trying to promote, always deliver value, first and foremost. Go out of your way to help others by carefully curating information that will assist them in their journey. The more you focus on delivering value, the quicker you'll reach that proverbial tipping point when it comes to exploding your fans or followers.
  • Constantly engage with others: many of the social media superstars I've spoken to have said that, in the beginning, they followed the popular profiles and constantly commented, shared and engaged with others. Not just on their own profiles, but by directly commenting on photos and engaging in conversations on other feeds.

If you're serious about finding your voice and discovering the secrets to success in business, one of the best people to follow is Gary Vanyerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, and early-stage invest in Twitter, Uber and Facebook, has arbitraged his way into the most popular social media platforms and built up massive followings and often spills out the secrets to success in a highly motivating and inspiring way.

#4 -- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

PPC advertising is a method of advertising on search engines like Google and Bing. As mentioned earlier, with PPC ads, you pay each time that ad is clicked on. PPC ads also exist on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook as well. However, if you're going to engage in PPC advertising, it's important that you determine conversion rates by using tracking pixels.

By using the Facebook tracking pixel or the Adwords pixel, you can help to define your audience and work to entice them to come back to your site. Let's say the didn't finish their purchase or they simply showed up and left after adding something to their shopping cart, or they filled out a lead form and disappeared, you can re-target those individuals.

Re-targeting is one of the most effective ways to market your business online, because you're marketing to "warm" traffic, or people who've already visited your site. If you've ever gone to a website and then seen those ads following you around the internet, then you're well aware of what re-targeting is.

When running PPC ads, it's important that you keep careful track of the specific ads and keywords that you're targeting. You can do this by using the Google Analytics UTM builder to create campaign URLs that you can use to track the campaign source, the medium and any keywords or terms that you might be targeting. This way, you can determine the effectiveness of any campaign that you run and figure out the precise conversion rate.

#5 -- Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the art of marketing products, services or information for others. It doesn't require that you ever house or warehouse a single thing. But it does require that you have an audience to market those things to online. Without that audience, whether it's through search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook, you'll find a difficult time with affiliate marketing.

However, if you are seasoned online marketer, and you've built a substantial following, then marketing as an affiliate might be the right fit. Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor has built a seven-figure business with affiliate marketing, while David Sharpe from Legendary Marketer has built up an eight-figure business by creating an army of affiliates that market products in collaboration with his team.

There are numerous repositories to source affiliate products and services from. However, some of the biggest are sites like ClickbankCommission JunctionLinkShare and JVZoo. You'll need to go through an application process, for the most part, to get approved to sell certain products, services or digital information products. Once approved, be prepared to hustle.

#6 -- Email Marketing

For those that are not in the know, email marketing is a substantial money generator. In fact, email marketing can far outstrip standard website sales because, at least for unknown brands or websites that are not household names, clinching a sale on the first interaction often doesn't happen.

That's why seasoned online marketers build squeeze pages with lead magnets, webinars and sales funnels to drip-deliver value and build a close personal relationship with their email subscribers, effectively moving them up a value chain to sell them high-ticket products and services.

If you have a website or a blog, be sure that you create a lead magnet or give something else of value away for free such as a trial software to a SaaS system or anything else for that matter that people could get value out of. Exchange your free offer for the email address and drop them into your sales funnel.

Use an email marketing system like InfusionSoft, ConvertKit or MailChimp, amongst others, to drip-feed value to those subscribers while also working to move them up your value chain. Russell Bruson does a great job of explaining sales funnels and marketing virtually anything on the internet is his best-selling book, Dot Com Secrets.

#7 -- Influencer Marketing

Using influencers to market your products or services is a great way to quickly saturate yourself into the marketplace, no matter what you're peddling. However, finding the right influencer at the right price is the hard part. You don't necessarily have to go to the top-tier influencers; you can also opt for micro-influencers (those that have 10,000 to 100,000 followers or fans).

Some influencers charge a hefty sum for a simple post on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. You can expect to pay upwards of a million dollars and more for some of the top-tier influencers. If you're looking for mid-level influencers, you'll likely get away with paying roughly a couple hundred-thousand dollars and up.

The really important part of influencer marketing is to find influencers that are in your niche. Be sure that they represent your target demographic audience before deciding to part ways with your hard-earned cash. It can get incredibly costly, but it can also bring you instant attention and business.

#8 -- Blogging

Blogging is one of the best forms of marketing online. It's free and it gives you a platform to build a massive audience as long as you don't give up. While starting a blog is relatively easy, actually following through and growing the blog is nothing short of downright frustrating and seemingly impossible.

However, some of the world's top-earning blogs gross millions of dollars per month on autopilot. It's a great source of passive income and if you know what you're doing, you could earn a substantial living from it. You don't need millions of visitors per month to rake in the cash, but you do need to connect with your audience and have clarity in your voice.

#9 -- Video Marketing

Video marketing is a great avenue for exposure on the internet, and utilizing a platform like YouTube to deliver value in the form of tutorials and other useful information such as courses or entertainment is a great way to grow your brand and build a presence.

While there are several platforms for doing this, clearly YouTube is the most popular for doing this. However, video marketing is also a great form of both content marketing and SEO on its own. It can help to provide visibility for several different ventures, and if the video is valuable enough in its message and content, it will be shared and liked by droves, pushing up the authority of that video through the roof.

#10 -- Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of my favorite go-to strategies when it comes to marketing on the web. It's my favorite because it's one of the most powerful, free and organic methods that are available for online marketers no matter where they're from. However, marketing content is difficult. So be prepared to put in the sweat equity.

My favorite style in this is article marketing. You create anchor content on your website or blog, then you build authority-content links to that content, effectively driving up the visibility. I've used this single strategy to rank hundreds of keywords in the #1 spot on Google, and I would highly recommend that if you're going to learn any marketing strategy, that you get really good at this one.

The type of content you can market is wide open. Aside from articles, you can use infographics, tutorials, ebooks and many other forms of content marketing. As long as it's done the right way, and it isn't intentionally setup to trick or fool search engines, but rather to add value to human beings, you'll see immense results from this.

R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post.

This article was published on forbes.com by R.L. Adams

Note-taking apps are crucial to our daily productivity. Thankfully, iOS houses the Notes app, a piece of software that’s designed to go toe-to-toe with Evernote, OneNote, and a host of other note-taking apps that have come to dominate the market.

There are many ways to delete and recover notes from directly within the Notes app, but keeping them synced in the cloud — whether using iCloud or Google’s proprietary services — is the best way to make sure you don’t lose any notes. This allows you to easily change devices without fear of losing your data, or get everything back after a complete data wipe. Below, we will guide you through the steps of deleting and recovering notes.

Deleting notes

Deleting all notes at once

  1. Open the Notes app.
  2. Select the folder and account that you want to go into.
  3. Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
  4. Tap Delete All in the bottom-right corner.

Deleting a single note at a time

  1. Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
  2. Select the individual note, or notes, that you want to delete.
  3. Tap Delete in the bottom-right corner.

Deleting a note using the swipe gesture

  1. While looking at your notes, swipe left on any one of them, and tap Delete.

Deleting a note from within

deleting notes ios
deleting notes ios
  1. Tap the note the you want to delete to open it.
  2. Tap the trash icon in the lower-left corner.

Deleting using 3D Touch

  1. When you’re looking at your list of notes, press down on the note you want to delete to perform a peek.
  2. Swipe up while in peek mode, and select Delete from the menu.

Recovering deleted notes

If you have deleted some notes, and you need to recover them, there are a few ways you can accomplish this.

Recovering deleted notes from Recently Deleted

Remember that the Notes app has a Recently Deleted folder. The keyword here being “recently,” as the Notes app will only keep these notes for 30 days. After 30 days have passed, it will permanently delete them.

  1. Open the Notes app, and tap Recently Deleted from the account that you want to recover.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
  3. Select the notes you want to recover.
  4. Tap Move To in the lower-left corner.
  5. Select the folder that you want to move the note to.

Bringing back your notes from iCloud

If you’re trying to recover all your notes after you’ve erased your iPhone or bought a new device, make sure that iCloud is turned on in Settings.

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud.
  2. Scroll down to Notes, and make sure it is turned on.

Bringing back your notes from other accounts

You may have created Notes using your Gmail account — or another account — meaning your Notes may be synced with that account, instead of your iCloud account. If this is the case, your notes will not appear in the Notes app until you set up all your accounts again. That said, here’s how to ensure that Notes is turned on in a Gmail account.

  1. Go to Settings > Mail > Accounts.
  2. Select the account, or if you only have iCloud set up, take the time to add your other email accounts.
  3. Once you select or add an account, make sure Notes is turned on.

Using iTunes to restore notes from a backup

restore photos itunes
restore photos itunes
If you regularly back up your data with iTunes, then your notes and other data should be backed up to your computer. Thankfully, you can restore your media from a preexisting backup. Because you are restoring your entire iPhone from a backup, however, the notes that will appear on your iPhone are the notes that were on your iPhone on the day of the backup. Any notes you’ve saved since then may disappear, though you can always restore them using a backup from a previous day.
  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Plug in your iPhone, and in the Summary tab, choose Restore Backup.
We recommend using a cloud service to keep a complete backup of every note you take. See the previous steps if you want to ensure Notes is turned on for iCloud, and your other accounts.

Using a third-party app

If your notes have been permanently deleted from your Notes app, and you can’t recover them using iCloud or any other app, then your only other option would be to go with a third-party app. These apps are great when you need to recover your notes, contacts, texts, and other types of media. Some of them can even repair various iOS issues. Below are a few of our favorites.

iMobie Phone Rescue ($60+)

Phone Rescue will allow you to recover a number of media files, including your notes. What sets this program apart, however, is that it allows you to recover data from your iCloud account, in addition to your iTunes and device backups. The app also has a number of repair tools, which let you recover your device when it crashes or experiences errors.Download now from:iMobie

Wondershare Dr.Fone ($70+)

This recovery tool is compatible with the latest iOS devices, and you can install the program on both MacOS and Windows-based machines. The software will allow you to quickly recover notes, as well as photos, videos, and even data from other apps like WhatsApp.Download now from:Wondershare

Tenorshare Ultdata ($50+)

Like other recovery apps, this app will let you recover notes, messages, media, and other various types of data. It also allows you to recover your iPhone when it’s stuck in recovery mode, or when it fails to install the latest iOS update.
Download now from:
Source : Digital Trends By Carlos Vega
Categorized in Others

Amazon Echo. FitBit. Even your coffee pot.

While you might be thinking “one of these things is not like the other,” they are all examples of the Internet of Things (IoT).

They are all everyday objects that can be connected to the internet and be recognized by other devices and contribute info to a database. The Internet of Things describes Internet V.2, where data is created by things.

Kevin Ashton, digital innovation expert who is credited with coining the term, defines the Internet of Things in this quote:

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

Now that the Internet of Things has made the physical world one enormous information system, how will the Internet of Things impact business in 2017?

It’s only the beginning for the Internet of Things

While some would argue IoT got off to a rocky start with a lower adoption rate than was predicted, most would agree the IoT is growing and will continue to grow in 2017 and beyond. Whether it reaches the lofty predictions of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 remains to be seen, but I strongly believe that businesses who learn to harness the data created by the Internet of Things are the ones who will survive and thrive in the future.

There are several new products and innovations now available due to the Internet of Things.

Smarter homes

There was certainly tremendous adoption of smart home technologies in 2016; experts believe Amazon sold nine times more Echos for the 2016 holiday season than the year before. Expect smart home technologies to become even more important in 2017. Seventy percent of people who purchased their first smart home device believe they are more likely to purchase more, according to a Smart Home Technology Survey.

Shutterstock

Wearable technology

There were 78.1 million wearables sold in 2015 and the market is expected to grow to 411 million by 2020. All wearable technology, which includes smart watches, fitness trackers, VR headsets and more, generates a ton of data that businesses are just beginning to understand the possibilities and potential applications for.

Smart cars

It is estimated that a staggering 82 percent of cars will be connected to the internet by 2021. App integration, navigation and diagnostic tools, and even self-driving cars will be ways the Internet of Things transforms the automobile industry. The auto industry is investing heavily to determine the next IofT innovation.

Transform the way we do business

We just scratched the surface for ways the IoT will offer new products and possibilities for consumers, but it will also impact the way we do business. Here are just few ways:

  • Inventory management: Anyone who has spent a work day or week counting widgets will appreciate the beauty of the IoT for inventory management. Smart devices will ultimately be able to track inventory automatically.
  • Consumer demands: Consumers will get used to smart devices and begin to expect “smart” behavior in all aspects of their lives. Inventors will have a field day coming up with new gadgets, furniture, appliances and more that meet this new demand and offer a new source of revenue for businesses.
  • Shorter buying cycle: Businesses will need to come to terms with a shorter buying cycle and consumer expectations for immediate gratification that the IoT supports.
  • Learn from the data: The volumes of data generated from smart devices help businesses learn how and what to innovate for the biggest impact.
  • Remote work: As IoT becomes more integrated, additional remote working opportunities will be available for tasks that used to require staff to be on-site to complete.

There’s no doubt, the Internet of Things is just getting started. Businesses who start now to develop or expand IoT technology in their products, services and operations are the ones who will realize a competitive advantage.

Of course, as with most new innovations, IoT comes with a drawback; at the moment, most IoT devices are not secured, making them an easy target for hackers. Last year, millions of IoT devices were hacked and used to take down some of the underlying infrastructure of the internet. Going forward, IoT manufacturers would do well to pay more attention to security, and users should take every precaution to secure their devices.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data. His new book is Data Strategy. To read his future posts simply join his network here.

Source : forbes.com

Categorized in Internet of Things

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. This was the official declaration that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. That lesson carried into today’s America, thanks to our Founding Fathers’ abhorrence for imperialist Great Britain’s unwarranted search and seizure of personal documents.

 

They understood that everyone has something to hide, because human dignity and intimacy don’t exist if we can’t keep our thoughts and actions private. As citizens in the digital age, that is much more difficult. Malicious hackers and governments can monitor the most private communications, browsing habits and other data breadcrumbs of anyone who owns a smartphone, tablet, laptop or personal computer.

 

President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism ofencryption technology and interest in expanding government surveillance have technologists and civil libertarians deeply concerned.

 

 

 

 

As an ethical hacker, my job is to help protect those who are unable, or lack the knowledge, to help themselves. People who think like hackers have some really good ideas about how to protect digital privacy during turbulent times. Here’s what they – and I – advise, and why. I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the companies listed below, except in some cases as a regular user.

 

When you’re communicating with people, you probably want to be sure only you and they can read what’s being said. That means you need what is called “end-to-end encryption,” in which your message is transmitted as encoded text. As it passes through intermediate systems, like an email network or a cellphone company’s computers, all they can see is the encrypted message. When it arrives at its destination, that person’s phone or computer decrypts the message for reading only by its intended recipient.

 

For phone calls and private text-message-like communication, the best apps on the market are WhatsApp and Signal. Both use end-to-end encryption, and are free apps available for iOS and Android. In order for the encryption to work, both parties need to use the same app.

 

For private email, Tutanota and ProtonMail lead the pack in my opinion. Both of these Gmail-style email services use end-to-end encryption, and store only encrypted messages on their servers. Keep in mind that if you send emails to people not using a secure service, the emails may not be encrypted. At present, neither service supports PGP/GPG encryption, which could allow security to extend to other email services, but they are reportedly working on it. Both services are also free and based in countries with strong privacy laws (Germany and Switzerland). Both can be used on PCs and mobile devices. My biggest gripe is that neither yet offers two-factor authentication for additional login security.

 

It is less straightforward to privately browse the internet or use internet-connected apps and programs. Internet sites and services are complicated business, often involving loading information from many different online sources. For example, a news site might serve the text of the article from one computer, photos from another, related video from a third. And it would connect with Facebook and Twitter to allow readers to share articles and comment on them. Advertising and other services also get involved, allowing site owners to track how much time users spend on the site (among other data).

 

The easiest way to protect your privacy without totally changing your surfing experience is to install a small piece of free software called a “browser extension.” These add functionality to your existing web browsing program, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. The two privacy browser extensions that I recommend are uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. Both are free, work with the most common web browsers and block sites from tracking your visits.

 

If you want to be more secure, you need to ensure people can’t directly watch the internet traffic from your phone or computer. That’s where a virtual private network (VPN) can help. Simply put, a VPN is a collection of networked computers through which you send your internet traffic.

 

 

 

 

Instead of the normal online activity of your computer directly contacting a website with open communication, your computer creates an encrypted connection with another computer somewhere else (even in another country). That computer sends out the request on your behalf. When it receives a response – the webpage you’ve asked to load – it encrypts the information and sends it back to your computer, where it’s displayed. This all happens in milliseconds, so in most cases it’s not noticeably slower than regular browsing – and is far more secure.

 

For the simplest approach to private web browsing, I recommend Freedome by F-Secure because it’s only a few dollars a month, incredibly easy to use and works on computers and mobile devices. There are other VPN services out there, but they are much more complicated and would probably confuse your less technically inclined family members.

 

If you don’t want anyone to know what information you’re searching for online, use DuckDuckGo or F-Secure Safe Search. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t profile its users or record their search queries. F-Secure Safe Search is not as privacy-friendly because it’s a collaborative effort with Google, but it provides a safety rating for each search result, making it a suitable search engine for children.

 

To add security to your email, social media and other online accounts, enable what is called “two-factor authentication,” or “2FA.” This requires not only a user name and password, but also another piece of information – like a numeric code sent to your phone – before allowing you to log in successfully. Most common services, like Google and Facebook, now support 2FA. Use it.

 

Encrypt the data on your phone and your computer to protect your files, pictures and other media. Both Apple iOS and Android have settings options to encrypt your mobile device.

 

 

 

 

And the last line of privacy defense is you. Only give out your personal information if it is necessary. When signing up for accounts online, do not use your primary email address or real phone number. Instead, create a throw-away email address and get a Google Voice number. That way, when the vendor gets hacked, your real data aren’t breached.

 

Source : http://www.newstimes.com/

Auhtor : Timothy Summers

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Do you have a direct line to Google? You know, that “red telephone” you pick up that helps you cut to the front of the line for anything Google related?

OK, so maybe that doesn’t exist, but it would be great, wouldn’t it?

The next best thing may be the Google Search Console. If the name “Webmaster Tools” rings a bell, then you probably have an idea what Search Console is. Let’s examine it a bit further.

What is Google’s Search Console?

Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools prior to May 2015, is a no-charge web service by Google for the individuals who manage website properties. It is a place where Google communicates data and statistics about a specific website to the website owners and the professionals who are authorized to manage that website.

From Webmasters to small business owners, Search Console allows individuals or professionals the ability to check the status of their website in Google, as well as analyze data to help optimize their search performance (visibility of a website). Search Console reports key aspects important to the success of your website in Google and provides webmasters with support, learning opportunities and resources.

Search Console is like the dashboard in your car notifying you when things go wrong, or deserve your attention or the attention of a professional. A light indicates when your tire pressure is low or your gas tank is near empty. Search Console indicates areas that may require further testing or diagnosis.

Google’s Search Console can be daunting when you first access it. There are reports and data about technical aspects of your site, messages from Google, links to technical information and solutions, as well as graphs to track your site’s performance in search.

In this post, we will help guide you to effectively using this tool.

Step One: Add Your Site

If you’re new to Search Console, you’ll need to validate the ownership of your site to first start using it. After logging in with a Google account to Google Search Console, you’ll see a button that says “Add Property.” Click the button to start your authorization process for each version of your site: http, https (if you have a secure site), www and non-www versions of your site. Once set up, you can then authorize other users to be added to your account.

There are five ways to authenticate your site for Search Console which include uploading an HTML file to your site (the Google recommended path); add a meta tag to your sites homepage; one requiring you to log into your domain name provider; one that uses your Google Analytics account (if you’re using the right code); and the other uses your Google Tag Manager (if you have Tag Manager installed and in the right place). Not sure which one is best for you? Check out Moz’s “Beginners Guide to Google’s Search Console” for more specifics about the authentication options.

Website access to execute the task of authentication may vary. That’s why Google gives you five handy ways to work around any possible access or knowledge gaps that may exist.

This is a picture of the Google Search Console dashboard. This guide will help you understand the free tool and learn how to improve your website’s performance.

alternate-methods

Navigating Search Console

Once you’ve authenticated a website, you’ll be able to access your website’s dashboard by logging into Search Console’s homepage. Upon logging in you’ll be greeted with a dashboard that looks a little bit like the one shown below.

search-console

“Recent messages” will open an inbox where messages directly from Google are placed. These messages could include suggestions on how to improve your website’s performance, notifications about spam or malicious activity found on your site. Reviewing messages in Search Console can prove helpful, so make a conscious effort to check regularly.

Clicking on “Manage property” to add or remove users or delete the property. Restricted and full access is available, allowing a website owner or admin to provide access to others. Restricted will allow for read-only access, while full allows you to submit and make changes on the website owners behalf.

Clicking on the website URL itself will take you to the dashboard where your data is. The navigation menu to the left shows the available places to navigate to in Search Console. We’ll examine each of these areas in the text below to get you better acquainted.

Upon logging into your dashboard you’ll see a “New and important” section, as well as a “Current Status” area. Upon first logging in, Google will show you some quick data about your site.

new-and-important

New and important: any new messages in your inbox will be shown here, messages from Google.

Crawl Errors: when a search engine navigates to your site and crawls your site/discovers new pages, there are cases when the search engine runs into problems while finding your pages. Crawl errors will include lists of pages which an error occurred.

Search Analytics: The total clicks your website has received from Google search for the past 28 days will be shown when first logging in. Further information is available, including the ability to change dates and compare, can be found by clicking Search Analytics in the navigation menu docked on the left side of the screen in Search Console.

Getting to Know Search Console

A navigation menu is provided to help you find the most important data available in Search Console. It is conveniently docked on the left of your screen when you log in. Four main areas exist to analyze, along with Security Issues and Resources.

Search Appearance: this section covers how a website appears in organic search. When a user has searched and your website is shown a lot of things can factor into why that user clicks your result over another. The Search Appearance section of Search Console will show you data to help you make decisions which improve clicks and overall performance in search results pages themselves.

Search Traffic: here data is compiled which gives insight into the traffic generated from search (desktop/mobile/tablet), the performance of your website when users don’t click, and information that affects the geographic locations your website will show up in Google.

Google Index: this section will help you understand a bit better about any issues Google has about understanding what your website is about and how it should show in search. Indexing is the process search engines go through that finds, analyzes and stores information for quick and accurate retrieval. If a search engine has issues understanding and analyzing information, it can result in reduced traffic or sometimes no traffic at all.

Crawl: here data is available detailing what issues, if any, Google encountered when visiting your website. While indexing is the process of finding, analyzing and storing information, crawling is the process a search engine goes through when it’s bot (a computer program developed to find your site and navigate to pages) discovers pages on your site. Depending on how popular pages on your site are, a search engine may crawl your pages multiple times a day or some pages once every couple weeks. In the Crawl section of the Search Console you’re able to tell search engines which pages to crawl and which to not crawl; and understand better about the speed with which Google can crawl your site.

Diving into Search Console

The plethora of information available at your fingertips in Search Console can indicate good and bad news about your site. As you examine and get familiar with each of the sections we outlined above, you’ll want to regularly monitor these sections to learn more about items that might need to be fixed on a site you manage.

Messages & Manual Actions

Google tends to share good and bad news with us in the messages section of Search Console. While helpful tidbits about how to improve performance might show up, there are also other messages Google may share. These may include notifications your site has a manual webspam action against it. This notification indicates Google has found your site to contain malicious spam or violate Google’s Terms of Service resulting in pages or your entire site being demoted or taken out of Google completely. Pay attention to messages and the manual action section of Search Console to ensure you’re on top of any issues as they arise.

Search Appearance: HTML Improvements

As Google crawls your website, information is found in specific areas on your page important for SEO. This includes meta titles and descriptions, indicating what a page contains. In HTML Improvements, Google outlines specific meta data which may be duplicated, is too long or too short, missing, or non-informative. Titles should be 50-55 characters (600 pixels) and unique on each page. Descriptions should be unique, and roughly 155 characters or less.

Search Analytics

Some of the most important information you’ll use to analyze performance can be found under Search Analytics.

  • Find out how many clicks from search engine pages occurred during a specific time period. Keep in mind that Search Console limits data to 90 days
  • Gain an understanding about the number of times a website was shown in search results, called impressions
  • Click-through rate is monitored, which is the ratio of users who clicked on your website’s listing in a search results to those in total who saw it the search results
  • Lastly, your site’s average position for specific keyword queries

These metrics are then able to be graphed in handy charts illustrating upward or downward trends. Search Console reports information about the specific keywords or landing page your site ranks for with these metrics, too. Look for the following:

  • Keywords or landing pages that see large dips in impressions, click-through-rate or clicks
  • Keywords that show a large decrease to average search position
  • Keywords or landing pages that differ greatly in performance between mobile, desktop or tablet

Index Status

The number of pages you currently have in Google’s index should reflect the amount of content you publish and pages you keep live on your site. By examining the Index Status section of Search Console, you discover increases or decreases in the total number of indexed pages historically. What date did a spike happen? If you don’t know why a large increase or decrease happened it might be time to investigate.

Content Keywords

In this section, Google helps share some of the key phrases they associate with your site. See a word that doesn’t make sense? This may indicate an issue on your site or with the links pointing to your site. Spam words showing in the Content Keywords section of Search Console could happen if you have hacked pages on your site unknowingly and indicate the need to investigate.

Crawl Errors & Stats

As a search engine discovers pages on your site, it can encounter a few issues gaining access to pages. In the Crawl Errors report you’ll be notified of these issues including: Server Errors, Soft 404s and Not Found pages for both mobile and desktop.

  • Server errors can be caused by issues with your hosting provider. The crawler may experience an issue if your hosting provider goes down and pages cannot be found
  • Soft 404s are errors resulting from URLs not existing on your site. In these instances, the pages don’t exist and your site isn’t showing a 404 error
  • 404s are errors indicating a page does not exist. It shows the user a 404 page and indicates the page is no longer there

Crawl Stats indicate the rate at which a crawler is finding pages, pages crawled per day (high and low), time it took to download and kilobytes downloaded in total. This historical perspective allows for insight into spikes which can then be investigated. A spike in time it took to crawl is something worth determining the cause. If search engines experience issues crawling your site, they very well could miss important information your prospective customers need to see.

Sitemaps

Every website should have a sitemap, if yours does not I highly recommend building one today. A sitemap shows a search engine all of the pages on your site in one simplified and easy to read format for a bot to understand. XML sitemaps are the most common format and accepted by Google, too. In Search Console, web property owners can submit their sitemaps and monitor the number of pages submitted and subsequent pages Google indexes. Any errors encountered with the sitemap are shown in this section. Take note of large differences between the number of pages submitted in a sitemap and the number of pages indexed. A large difference may indicate an issue and should be investigated.

Security Issues & Other Resources

Spam is prevalent online and the security of your website could be at risk if not managed. Google takes precaution and communicates if they discover any indication of spam or security threats on your site. If Malware is detected, Search Console will indicate it in the Security Issues section. Be sure to monitor this area regularly and check out the other resources available, too.

Summary

Search Console is an amazing resource for anyone managing or overseeing the marketing of a website today. Without this handy tool, you’re missing out on in-depth information to help you improve the amount of traffic you get from organic search. Take a few moments to sign into Search Console today, trust me you won’t regret it!

Source : http://www.business2community.com

Auhtor : Kaila Strong

Categorized in Search Engine

WALTHAM, MA—It is said that if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results. If you want to increase your revenue, customer outreach and position yourself as a leader in your marketplace in 2017, you should do things differently. Here is a quick guide and basic fundamentals to plan your 2017 marketing.

Bring Marketing to the Forefront

Your products and services are important. But so is marketing because it will educate your potential customers about the value you bring to the table. If you do it right, your products and services will sell by itself.  That is the goal of marketing.

If marketing has been on the back burner in your company, bring it to the forefront now. Spend time on thinking, planning and strategizing on consolidating exiting clients, bringing old ones back and seeking new customers. Marketing will play a big role in revenue generation.

How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?

The short answer is: spend as much as you afford, but do spend and never spend less than what you did the previous year. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of gross revenue if your revenue less than $5 million per year. Other sources suggest spending up to 13 percent.

Where Should I Start?

Well, a lot has changed in the marketing in recent years. It is no longer just doing PR, getting an article published in trade publications or direct marketing. Now there are so many marketing channels and you want to be everywhere, integrated with the same message. You need a 360-degree view of marketing, including digital, social media, PR, direct and content marketing, web analytics, print or online advertising. If you are unfamiliar with any of these areas, the best thing will be to bring an outside consultant who can audit everything you are doing and make some recommendations. Later, you can decide whether you have the required talent pool to execute those recommendations or if you will need to bring in an outside firm.

Here are some channels to think about

CONTENT MARKETING: Content marketing is the king of online marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of Business-to-Business and 76 percent of Business-to-Consumer organizations are using content marketing. What is content marketing? “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” says Content Marketing Institute. “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.”

EMAIL MARKETING: Do not underestimate the power of email marketing. Despite powerful spam filters, unsubscribe options and people getting annoyed by too many emails, email marketing is effective. In fact, email marketing holds the second place after search marketing & SEO. According to an article in Forbes magazine, email marketing is responsible for 16 percent of customers acquired, compared with the less than 1 percent acquisition rate from Facebook.

SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING & SEO: Search engine optimization, popularly known as SEO, is one of the most effective marketing tools for increasing online visibility. Yet, 50 percent of businesses doing digital marketing had no form of digital marketing plan or strategy, according to a 2015 study by Smart Insights. In a recent survey by Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive, 89 percent of consumers reported using search engines to inform their purchase decisions, according to Search Engine Land.

VIDEO MARKETING: As the watching habits of people (especially the younger generation) shift to computer screens and mobile devices from traditional television, you should not ignore video marketing. By video marketing, I mean both video advertisements and producing your own video content, which you can host on your website and social media channels, as well as email to your target audience.

Marketing pundits are predicting that video will account for 69 percent of consumer internet traffic soon; 7 in 10 people view brands more positively after watching their video content; and 64 percent of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies, according to Audience Bloom.

In conclusion, identify your marketing deficiencies and market your competitive advantage. “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” –David Packard

Source : indianewengland.com

Author : UPENDRA MISHRA

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