VPN is a great way to unblock geo-restricted websites and more importantly it is a great way to be anonymous on the internet while hiding all the personal information from websites and even authorities. Following are some tips for using VPNs securely.
Always Use Firewall
This might sound weird but always use Firewall regardless of your VPN status. Of course VPNs are fully encrypted but firewalls handles incoming connections that mean they can prevent unauthorized connections on a network. Most of the antivirus software and security tools on Windows based computers come with built-in firewalls.
Of course VPNs make you anonymous on the internet and prevent websites and authorities to gather your internet activities but you’d be amazed to know that your browser also records a lot of things. Make sure you use private browsing or incognito mode when you are using VPN.
A majority of people use VPNs to unblock geo restricted contents and websites but things can go out of control if you have enabled geo-location services. Modern laptops and notebooks come with built-in GPS feature and geo-location services that know your exact geographical location at any given moment. Make sure you turn off such services or features.
VPN and TOR
In case you haven’t heard the name ‘TOR’, it refers to The Onion Router that is an alternative of VPN and makes you anonymous on the internet. Using VPN and TOR at the same time makes it impossible for anyone to intercept your network traffic and online activities.
However there is a huge downside, TOR is a relatively slower method and combined with VPN, it makes the whole experience slow. Unless you are streaming videos or audios from geo-restricted websites and services, the combination of VPN and TOR could work for you efficiently.
When it comes to security, Android is not the most secure mobile platform. However if you use your Android device for business purposes and there is some potentially critical information and data stored on it then you have to go to the extra mile to make it secure. Following are some tips and tricks to make your Android phone or tablet much more secure and reliable.
Disable “unknown sources”
Android devices allow users to install apps and games from unknown sources. That means you can download apps and games from sources and app stores other than Google Play Store. Of course it is useful as you can use app stores like Amazon App Store but it also means there is no way to make sure the app is secure and does not contain malware. You can turn off this feature/option from settings >> security.
Upgrading to latest version of Android platform gives your many benefits; you get better user interface and new features but most importantly new versions come with better security features and performance fixes. So, update your device to the latest version as soon as your device notifies you. You can check availability of the latest version manually from settings >> about >> system update.
Use antivirus app
Android is not immune to malware, viruses and spyware; make sure you use a reputable security app like Avast Mobile Security on your device. Unfortunately these security apps run continuously in the background and may reduce the overall performance but it’s a sacrifice you should make.
Use screen lock
Using screen lock could be extremely useful if you have sensitive data on your device because you can lose a device anytime. Putting a screen lock makes sure the thief or the person who has possession of your Android device, cannot possibly access the data stored on it.
1Password is the ultimate solution for people who want to save their passwords securely. Currently this amazing app is available for Android and iOS devices and it does support a wide range of devices from these platforms.
Other than passwords, users can also save personal information and financial information like their credit card number etc. interestingly, 1Password is not just a password storage app and service but it also encrypts all the saved information that makes it impossible for hackers and intruders to get access to that information.
Recently the company launched latest version of 1Password for Android devices and this version comes with even better user interface and layout. You can even use 1Password on multiple devices at the same time and the app automatically syncs all the data and stored information with other devices. It uses Wi-Fi network and Dropbox for synchronization. 1Password allows users to categorize their data and information into different categories like bank accounts, logins and other information.
After storing data into the secure vault of 1Password, you can access it using three different methods; you can mark frequently accessed passwords and information as Favorite for quick access. You can browse through different categories to find the relevant information and you can use folders and subfolders. 1Password has built-in random password generator that allows users to create random passwords.
This particular feature could be useful when creating account on websites. The developing team has integrated some amazing features in the app, you can copy passwords and other information to use it on another app and after few minutes 1Password automatically deletes that copied text and clears the clipboard.
The app uses 256-bit AES encryption standard that is one of the most advanced and widely used encryption standards in the world today. On iOS devices which have TouchID, users can also use their fingerprints instead of the master password.
Signal is a well known messaging app that appeared in iTunes last year and now it is available in Google Play Store too. Now the question is there are hundreds of communication apps available for iOS and Android devices then what makes Signal so special? It is an encrypted calling and messaging app that is recommended by no other than Edward Snowden. This app is mainly popular because of its easy to use design and interface despite the fact it has powerful security features.
Open Whisper Systems is the developing company behind this app and the first version of Signal they have launched on Android devices comes with calling and texting features. Interestingly, this is not the first Android secure communication app by this company as two of their apps are already there. Redphone by Open Whisper Systems is an encrypted calling app that thousands of people all over the globe use.
The other app is TextSecure which is globally popular because of its powerful encryption; TextSecure, as the name suggests is a texting app and service but now the developing team has combined both of these apps and their features into a single app named Signal. According to the official download page of TextSecure app on Google Play Store, it has been downloaded more than a million time on Android phones and tablets.
However back in 2013, when WhatsApp integrates this secure communication feature in their Android to Android communication, TextSecure and its code got installed on more than 500 million Android devices that is a significant milestone. Other than Edward Snowden, many other security experts and cryptographers have appreciated the security standards and security levels used in this app and service.
Of course apps like TextSecure and Signal are a huge milestone when it comes to consumer level secure communications but authorities like FBI are not very happy with it. For example James Comey who is the Director of FBI has warned Congress on the long term effects of these consumer level security products but it seems this trend is not going to change in the future.
Internet has done some wonderful things for small businesses all over the globe but as an employer or manager it is solely your responsibility to implement a powerful cyber security plan. Let’s talk about it.
- The first step should be identifying the needs of your organization or company; you must know what things you need to protect and how your organization wants to protect sensitive information and data. Other than the software and data part of the assets, you must also account for every hardware and equipment like computers, network devices and other devices. It is better to categorize these assets into two categories; one that includes assets that are shared like network devices and second hardware which are used by individuals like computers.
- The next step should be the protection of assets that are valuable to the company. Unfortunately there is no generic formula to implement this step as every organization and company has its unique formula based on its size and the type of data and equipment it deals with. A common practice is implementation of two factor authentication system.
- Now you have identified security needs and implemented protection, it’s time to respond to security threats and cover the loopholes you’ve left in the previous two steps. In most of the cases the implemented security protocols and tools automatically respond to threats while in some cases it may need manual actions. In either case, if there is a loophole then move back to the first step and identify the root of that problem.
- The last but not the least step is to recover from the damage your company has experience in the previous step. The recovery step is quite important as it makes sure your company and assets don’t get damage the next time.
The security plan of a small business or company must be documented as it is an evolving process and you cannot possibly afford to get back to square one. Because cyber challenges are changing constantly, you need to adopt latest technologies and tools too.