Digital Privacy and Security Tips

Digital privacy and security is of increasing importance. That is true for those involved in civil rights work, as well as everyone in society. Activists who support racial equality, gun rights, gay rights, and just about every other issue have been targeted by the police and other governmental agencies. Whether a person’s politics lean left or right, speaking up can cause governmental scrutiny and abuse. Beyond governmental abuses, common criminals steal identities and data, causing billions of dollars of harm and much grief every year.

The good news is that a few simple steps can go a long way towards improving your privacy and security, and that those steps will help prevent abuses by governments and criminals alike.

For the short version of what to do, I would recommend the following:

1. Install the Signal app. It allows for secure, end-to-end encrypted text messaging, group chats, voice calls, and video chats. Then, get your friends to install and use Signal too.

2. Use the TOR Browser. TOR provides anonymous web browsing, blocking trackers and defending against surveillance.

3. Use a strong password for your phone. Simple passwords can be easily broken. If you believe your phone may be taken, turn it off so that fingerprint/FaceID unlocking can’t be used to gain access to your phone.

4. Enable privacy settings on your phone. There are guides for Android and iPhone that go over the various settings.

5. Use a password manager. Using a password manager makes it easy to use strong, random passwords for each website. This is much more secure than reusing the same (easy-to-remember and therefore weak) password on each website. There are numerous commercial and free options.

6. Enable 2 Factor Authentication everywhere you can. 2 Factor Authentication involves using an app such as Google Authenticator to generate a 6 digit code that changes frequently. When you log in, you enter not only your username and password, but the proper 6 digit code. That way, a person who has stolen your username and password cannot log into your account unless they can also access that app on your phone.

For the longer version of what to do to improve your digital privacy and security, see the following videos: