Encrypt Everything in 2017

As part of an ongoing series, we’re helping to explain the various steps to encrypt and protect your most valuable data. Follow along each week for practical privacy how-tos.

This past year has seen a plethora of articles encouraging end users to both care about and proactively protect their data and digital privacy. Along with the revelations of the worst data breaches in history, 2016 has certainly shown us the deep importance of taking security seriously.

Unfortunately, many dismiss security and privacy techniques as either too complicated or unnecessary. Excuses like “That’s just for techies” or “I have nothing to hide” have stalled individuals from taking action to protect their own data.

This series aims to help make basic setup easy and approachable for everyone, despite the underlying technology’s relative complexity.  Everyone has access to tools that significantly increase their privacy, and these simple walk-throughs describe how.

Your privacy absolutely matters if you:

  • Do anything someone else would disapprove of
  • Believe anything someone else would disagree with
  • Have anything someone else would want
  • Say anything someone else would fight against
  • Are something that someone else would hate

The most expedient way to achieve data privacy is to ensure its security in the first place. As 2017 dawns, take these clear steps to ensure both the security and privacy of your personal data.

Protect Your Computer’s Data

Your primary computer is a treasure trove of personal information to a would-be attacker. It has copies of your contacts, your emails, your family photos, your taxes, and more. If someone were to walk off with all the data on your laptop, just imagine the havoc they could wreak on your life.

Encrypting your hard disk is a quick, simple step to preventing this possibility.

Protect Your Mobile Device’s Data

Many of us have just as much personal data on our smartphones as we do our home computers. Considering our phones are more portable than a laptop, the idea of someone walking off with a device is even more terrifying. Not only that, many of the services we use have set up two-factor authentication by way of text messages, meaning a would-be thief can also impersonate us to sensitive services.

Encrypting your phone is just as fast and easy as encrypting your computer.

Configure Encryption for your Email

The number of times we need to send truly secure email is limited. However, when an opportunity arises that necessitates secure messaging, trying to bootstrap things in a hurry is painful and fraught with problems.

Instead, set up encryption for your email today so it’s available when you need it later.

Browse the Internet Securely

The next time you use the free WiFi in a cafe, keep in mind that anyone else in the room with you can see, record, or even manipulate everything you do online. Chances are that they’re not doing anything, but using the Internet for anything critical is still very risky. This same argument holds for any network connection that you don’t control.

Rather than risk your sensitive information, take a few minutes to set up a secure VPN you can use instead.

Focus on Privacy

Keeping your data secure is the first step to ensuring your digital life remains private. It’s a vital step to take in today’s ever-connected world, and one that need not be complicated or ambiguous.

The tools we’ve highlighted over the past month are available to all and instill a profusion of protection for your most valuable information. Starting the new year with these safeguards in place will help ensure you enjoy a safer, more secure 2017.

Continuing to learn what information is exposed, to whom, through which channels, and for what reasons will help you understand methods of protecting yourself in a changing world. Taking practical steps to protect your privacy -- like those outlined above -- will help you keep ahead of any would-be attackers.