With concerns about privacy on the internet it's never too late to look into ways you can secure your private information and still have an online presence. There are many approaches to this subject, I'm going to cover the ones that I implement myself along with some easy to do best practices.
Some of the topics in this post will cover:
- Best Practices Online
- Privacy Focused Services
- Self Hosting Your Own Service
It can be hard to determine who and what to trust when it comes to having an online presence. The best mindset to have is to trust no one by default. No service online is 100% secure, even if you host it on your own servers yourself.
Some easy to do steps for privacy:
- Use a seperate email account that does not use your name or personal info. You can use this email address to sign up for non-critical accounts online.
- Use Two Factor Authentication whenever possible.
- Do not provide your real address or phone number unless absolutely necessary.
- Use a VPN service when on public WiFi such as at a hotel.
- Don't install social media apps. If you need to visit the service, use a browser in privacy mode.
Useful Privacy Services.
While I cant say that these services are 100% secure, I believe they are useful when trying to protect yourself online.
Some services listed below are paid services.
Proton Mail/Proton VPN - Security focused email service with full encryption support.
Swiss based service with free account options or paid account with custom domain support and multiple addresses. They have a VPN service with free and paid options.
Privacy.com - Create virtual credit cards for your online accounts. Create one time or reusable credit cards with spending limits. With there premium service you can even mask what the purchase was for on your real bank statements.
Burner - An app that offers throw away burner phone numbers for voice and text.
DeleteMe - A paid service that searches the web and deletes your personal information from data broker websites. This service is somewhat expensive but useful for a more advanced security model.
Signal - A private encrypted messenger service.
Self Hosting Services.
For a more advanced approach to privacy you may want to consider hosting your own services. Self hosting has its advantages and disadvantages. The upside is you have more control over your data and who has access, the downside is you must maintain the software and keep up on security and maintenance updates.
Useful Self Hosting Options:
Nextcloud - A Dropbox/Google Drive alternative with enterprise features.
Mailcow - Run your own secure email server.
Home Assistant - A self hosted home automation system.
PiHole - Network ad blocker and DNS server.
BlueIris - IP security camera server software.
PFsense - Open Source Firewall. An open source firewall you can install on your own hardware.
This is by no means a full list of what's out there when it comes to privacy and self hosted options, just what I use in my personal life. Just remember there is no substitute to just not putting sensitive info on the internet.
Github is a great resource for finding software you may want to use, such as this page for SelfHosted programs.