Privacy & Security using Mobile Internet
The internet can be a scary place.
It can be hard enough to stay safe online living in a fixed location, only ever connecting to the same home and work networks day after day.
But for mobile users - keeping connected can be a lot more dangerous, complicated, and confusing!
Mobile users are naturally exposed to more potential risks because they are connecting in so many different environments.
Wi-Fi networks, particularly unsecured and unmanaged public networks, can have hidden threats lurking. And even on password-protected networks, you may still be subject to snooping or attack from anyone who has the network password and who happens to be connected to the same Wi-Fi access point.
Cellular connections, on the other hand, may be secure from the prying eyes of your virtual neighbors, but you still might be concerned about your cell carrier monitoring your usage for advertising and tracking purposes.
Even with "unlimited" cellular plans, high-speed data limits and coverage issues may force cellular users onto very sketchy Wi-Fi to get their online fix.
And even if you trust that your connection is secure - what about the sites that you are connecting to? Do you trust them?
The number of potential threats lurking online is almost enough to make you want to pull the plug permanently!
Fortunately, mobile internet security isn't that hard if you follow a few basic rules of thumb.
And when something does go wrong - a few prudent precautions taken in advance can keep an "incident" just an annoyance, rather than a disaster.
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Do Not Worry (Too Much), Be Happy
First off - this guide isn't meant to scare you.
Staying safe online really isn't all that different than securing a house or a car.
If you lock the doors and don't leave valuables in plain sight, most thieves will move on looking for easier and more inviting targets.
The same applies online.
Unless you are a celebrity, government official, or executive - you are likely not worth any personal attention from hackers. If they can't hack you easily and automatically with tools that are targeting thousands of people at once - they will very likely move on.
Only the lowest hanging fruit gets picked - so don't make it easy!
Disclaimer: Everyone's risk tolerance is different. Some are more concerned about security and privacy than others, either due to past experiences, job requirements, or because of a general desire to stay anonymous. This article attempts to present a balanced middle-of-the-road strategy that makes sense for most.
If you're super concerned about security and privacy, you can go MUCH further than what is presented here. Do keep in mind that this is a bottomless rabbit hole. Only you can decide when you are ready to stop digging.
This guide is meant for those with fairly average concerns or those who have previously been unaware of the risks. Please scale the information to take into account your own risk factors.
And Don’t Be Ruled By Fear!
It is easy to get caught up worrying about all the possible ways that things can go wrong online.
Don't do it!
Instead of dwelling on what can go wrong - take a few basic steps to protect yourself, set up a safety net just in case, and then deal with any problems only if they come up.
Unless you are a security professional or have higher than average risk factors to worry about, life is too short to spend obsessively worrying about this stuff!
But it certainly helps to stay on top of the basics!
Quick Tips: Security Dos & Do Nots
Before we dive in, here is a quick rundown of some key things you should be doing - and NOT doing - to keep yourself safe online.
- DO: Keep your systems up to date with the latest security patches.
- DON'T: Click on suspicious links in emails.
- DO: Use hard-to-guess passwords.
- DON'T: Don't use the same password twice.
- DO: Use at least a WPA2 password for your own private Wi-Fi network.
- DON'T: Do not forget to change the default passwords on your networking gear.
- DO: Back up your data, to at least three different places.
- DON'T: Do not rely on backup hard drives that are more than five years old.
- DO: Be extra cautious on public Wi-Fi networks, and use a VPN when appropriate.
- DON'T: Do not enter any secure personal or financial data unless you are using "https://" in your browser and see a secure indication.
- DO: Enjoy all the wonderful things you can find online.
- DON'T: Don't stress too much about all of this, it really isn't that hard to stay relatively safe.
Dos and Do Nots Video
Here's a quick 5-minute video recapping the above Do's and Don'ts:
Now let's take things deeper...
Member Exclusive Content In This Guide
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Check out the Topics Covered in the Member Section:
Hour-Long Video Q&A Webinar Archive
Archive of a member-exclusive Q&A we held on this topic that addresses a bunch of concerns folks have on privacy & security.
Safety & Security Best Practices
Complete safety is impossible to achieve since there will always be unknown vulnerabilities lurking, and human errors are all too easy to stumble into. In this section, we go over some best practices - from keeping systems updated, secure connections, and making back-ups.
Increasing Security with Better Passwords
Being smart about the passwords you use online is key to keeping safe online. This section goes over how to create safer passwords and the methods of managing them.
Security and Mobile Internet
Some particular tips for keeping secure on typical mobile internet solutions including using public Wi-Fi networks and cellular data.
Privacy on your own Network
Tips for making sure your own RV or boat's network is as secure as you want it to be.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) Services
A VPN connection is encrypted creating a secure "tunnel" between you and the VPN provider before your traffic hits the open internet. While this seems like a great way to keep safe online, there are some downsides to consider too. This section also recommends some better-trusted VPN providers.
Summary: Be Prepared, Stay Safe
People tend to either obsess over security issues or stick their heads in the sand and ignore them.
Both of these are poor strategies for staying safe, secure, happy, and productive online.
Better to strike a balance - and doing so smartly really isn't that hard.
A little preparation and some basic habits, like updating your devices, apps, and software, will make you secure from the vast majority of online threats.
Stay safe out there!
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