Tech Tip: Privacy protections and the internet 

There has been a lot of talk recently about Internet Privacy. The other Washington is moving to change online privacy protections and this Washington is moving to protect them at the state level. No matter what the outcome, this is a good reminder that we should all take some basic precautions to safeguard our privacy while surfing the web.

Check your ISPs Privacy Policy

Your ISP is your Internet Service Provider (AKA Comcast, AT&T or Verizon). Every ISP has a policy which governs what they will do with your personal information. This is known as their “Privacy Policy”.

The best defense is to understand the privacy policy of your ISP. Most ISPs are taking this opportunity to review and reaffirm their Privacy Policies. Get a copy of yours and review it, be familiar with what your ISP will and will not do with your personal information. Keep in mind that this policy may change at any time and at the discretion of the ISP. You can find the privacy policy on the website or get information by calling the customer service line.

Get a paid virtual private network (VPN)

A good step would be to subscribe to a paid VPN (virtual private network) service.

VPN is like an encrypted tunnel between you and the internet. You link straight to your VPN (your ISP will see the connection), then all internet browsing is directed through VPN’s servers and blocks third parties from snooping.

Some free ones collect your data and sell it to third parties for analytics or use ads to support its free service. (This negate the whole purpose of this process we’re talking about now). The point is to keep your data private, and as with most things you get what you pay for. The typical cost should be around $40 to $60 per year.

There are many VPN’s to choose from, but you may want to choose a VPN which pledges not to log your traffic. Good VPN Services also use their own Domain Name System (DNS) Servers, and/or offer DNS leak protection.

The Domain Name System is how your computer translates a human readable website name, such as google.com into machine-friendly Numerical Internet Protocol (IP) address – 216.58.216.174.

We do not recommend any particular VPN, but you can review this PC Magazine article and evaluate the best one for you. Note: some streaming services like Netflix may not work with all VPN’s.

Utilize HTTPS websites

On other thing, you may want to do is connect to HTTPS Versions of sites whenever possible. The HTTPS Connection is encrypted, which means that you ISP does not know what you do on the site, only that you connected to it.

Never provide personal information to a site that does not have HTTPS at the beginning of the URL or website address.

Hope this helps!

KCIT