Deleting traces from old devices
When you’re getting rid of your old computer, simply deleting your data from it is not enough. Even if you use the format command to wipe the hard disk clean, the data can be recovered using simple, free software. The only way to make sure your data remains inaccessible is to overwrite it with random data.
For Windows , get DBAN which is free for personal use. Some other common tools include CCleaner and Eraser -they have overwrite tools built in. For Mac, the built in Disk Utility has a secure erase option built in. (Click Security Options in the Erase tab).
You can also try the free Paragon Disk Wiper 15. On Android phones, there is a free app you can get called SHREDroid -it will automatically destroy all your old data if you plan to sell the phone or give it to someone else. Note that it does not work with Motorola phones.
Password managers and two-factor authorization
If you’re not using a password manager already, you should be. There are many excellent free options like LastPass, LogMeOnce and KeePass -they take the hassle out of creating tough passwords and remembering them. It’s important these days because people tend to use simpler passwords (made of words, numbers) and using the same password on multiple websites. If one gets hacked, there is potential that all your logins will get hacked.
Web-safe browser extensions
The web browser is your gateway to the web and the easiest way to add a layer of security is with an extension. Try McAfee Secure or WOT (Web of Trust) to get notified about the trustworthiness of a website especially useful if you’re often visiting a lot of new websites. Another free extension called HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox, Chrome) will automatically encrypt communications with several websites. Some of the other options you can try are Avast, ZenMate and UltraSurf.
Identifying fake calls & SMS
This is the easiest thing to do on any mobile phone -just get Truecaller. Once you setup the app with your phone number and sign in, you can turn on spam detection. The app works a bit differently on Android and iOS . On Android, you can set it up to automatically reject known spammers and to block hidden numbers.
It also shows you information while the call in coming in so that you can choose to accept/reject. Truemessenger works in pretty much the same way, though it’s Android only. On iOS, you can add the Truecaller widget and simply copy any number -the widget will look up the number and tell you instantly.
On-the-move RFID blocking
RFID or radio frequency identification tags are already embedded in many of the bank cards we use, passports and even loyalty cards. A lot of the information on them can be read without you even knowing -a portable RFID scanner will be able to read the information from a few inches away.
You can prevent these on-the-move attacks by using RFID blocking material. You can buy RFID blocking wallets online for as low as Rs 350. Other options include passport wallets, travel cases, sleeves and backpacks with special RFID blocking compartments.
Secure yourself using a VPN
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a way to secure and encrypt your internet connection (whether on a PC or mobile device) to prevent your data from being stolen/accessed while in transit. There are many free VPN services available -the catch is that there is always a data or bandwidth cap when it’s free.
If you only need to use one occasionally, go for a free service like Tunnelbear, VPNbook, Cyber Ghost or Windscribe. Once you sign up, they will provide full instructions to set it up on your machine. On your iPhone or Android phone, you can get the Opera Free VPN from the respective app stores -it takes all the guesswork out of setting up and using a VPN.
A firewall is a piece of software that blocks unsolicited incoming connections: this is particularly useful if you have to be on a public network for some time. Both Windows and Mac OSX have built in firewalls and they are up to the task for almost any situation. Just make sure that they are on and functioning. On Windows, open Control Panel and Firewall -make sure it is on for both public and private networks.
Similarly , on a Mac, go to System Settings > Security & Privacy and click the Firewall tab. You will need to click the lock to make changes and enter your password to switch it on. If you need something more advanced (typically for Windows), you should check out GlassWire -even the free version offers a ton of extra features.
When using unsecures Wifi networks
When you’re at a coffee shop or restaurant that offers free WiFi, the temptation to connect is high, especially if you’re travelling and data costs are high. Other public networks include the one’s in malls, airports, libraries and hotel lobbies. The danger is that hackers target users on these kind of networks and use software to ‘sniff ‘ out passwords and personal data.
The previously mentioned firewalls and VPNs can help by adding an extra layer of security. Other things you can do is make sure your browser address bar URL starts with ‘https’ and disable things like file & printer sharing and network discovery (on Windows, you’ll find this in Control Panel > Network & Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings. In OSX, got to System Preferences > Sharing).