SECURITY

10 Ways To Protect Your Privacy

10-ways-to-protect-your-privacy

The following is a list of “Do’s & Don’ts” to help you protect your privacy.

In case you didn’t know it, there’s an ongoing assault on your personal and financial privacy. Countless private organizations as well as some specific ‘alphabet agencies’ of your government are collecting and maintaining detailed records on us.

While clearly your privacy is under siege, there are things you can do about it…

 

Keep your mouth shut

“Loose lips sink ships”. There always seems to be someone in a crowd, group, or setting who has the loud and boisterous voice – perhaps a braggart or self-important individual. A first rule of privacy is to keep your mouth shut, especially while in public or any environment where others will hear what you say.

Don’t flaunt what you have

Especially if you’re fortunate enough to have ‘plenty’, be aware that many others do not. While some people have no issue with it, there are plenty who will begrudge you, or even target you. Be modest, not flashy. Don’t draw attention to yourself.

Shred documents

It is apparently legal for others to go through your curbside trash. Never throw away important documents which will reveal your personal or sensitive information.

Amazon’s Choice: SHREDDER.

Protect or Encrypt computer files

Most people keep some (or many) important documents and files on their computer. Snoops and hackers may be able to get in and see or download these documents. To help protect against this, you could either keep one computer separately for such things while NOT connecting it to the internet, and/or use quality internet virus/firewall software. Purchasing a VPN (virtual private network) will also help prevent ‘man in the middle’ attacks while on the internet (it’s an encrypted ‘tunnel’). Additionally you might (should) encrypt your sensitive files with one of the many encryption programs that are available (some free, some are pay).

Privatize your email

It should be well known by everyone these days that unless you’re using encrypted email, it can be easily intercepted and read. So either assume that everything you write in an email can be read by ‘anyone’, or consider using an encrypted email service (e.g. hushmail.com or ProtonMail.com).

More: Secure Private Email Service Providers That Won’t Track You

Anonymize your internet searching and browsing

All of the most popular widely used internet search engines will track every search that you ever make. Additionally, it is well known that the NSA program “PRISM” (and likely others yet unknown) similarly can keep track of what you’re looking for on the internet with apparent cooperation from the internet ‘giants’. That said, you should consider using anonymous search engines which do not log or track your IP address when you search online (e.g. DuckDuckgo.com or ixquick.com and others…).

Use cash instead of debit or credit cards

Cash is private. Although there is a definite move towards a cashless society (a watched and controlled society), while you can, you should use cash if you’re concerned at all about your online ‘dossier’. When you purchase with a debit or credit card, there’s a record of what you’ve bought (forever?), where you’ve bought it, and when you bought it.

Don’t sign up for promotional enticements or discount offers

Have you ever considered why a store might offer you a 10% discount or a $30 discount (etc..) to ‘sign up’ for their store card? Your information is worth money to them. You will be targeted with mailings (and spam mail & phone calls) based on what you purchase, your personal demographic, and other such things. Your name, address, phone number, and email address will go out far-and-wide.

Avoid Facebook, Twitter, and similar social websites

If you’re concerned abut privacy, then it should be a no-brainer that social websites like Facebook (for example) are anything but private. Additionally, it is known that Facebook is apparently a cooperating partner with the ‘PRISM’ program of the NSA. Everything that you say on Facebook, every picture you upload to Facebook, is a permanent record of your life for others to peer into…

Be aware that your smart phone is leaving ‘breadcrumbs’

Smart phones are specifically tied to ‘you’. Unless you’re buying a ‘burner phone’, when you sign up for a new cell phone your social security number (as well as your personally identifiable information) is linked to that specific phone. Not only are your calls potentially monitored, but it has been widely reported that many ‘apps’ have total access to the phone’s microphone, camera, GPS position, messaging, etc.. Your phone can track your movements (to other entities) and it could be ‘looking’ at you right now and listening to what you’re saying. Creepy…

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32 Comments

  1. Always concerned with outside trash? A machine lifts and crushes our trash.
    I can’t remember when a human picked up our trash; and I’m rural!!

  2. Yes, personally, I would be concerned with outside trash…yes. Shred. Everything. A machine lifts and crushes your trash? You truly have no idea who goes through it before, and crushed or not, paper can still be gone through at the dump. Paper is not so easily crushed or even degraded.

    I once went to take a bag of trash out I had forgotten, and the trash pick up truck was still there. By the way, we have always had pick up by one of those trucks which lifts and picks the trash bin. The truck driver was actually out of the truck, tearing open bags, and going through trash. Realising if I pissed this guy off, he might “forget” to get my trash next time, I just said “oh, whatcha ya looking for” fairly nicely. He tells me lots of folks through out bottles he can return for money, etc, and he always goes through trash..(not me). I tell him nicely (sheesh), oh, if I ever have any I will leave them in a plastic bag beside the trash. (and every so often did). Never caught him going through my trash again, but did see him at others. Now, I do think this guy was just making a few bucks collecting pop bottles BUT, it takes time (which he is paid for time), etc…And, it shows it is easy to trash pick.

    1. If someone wants to go through a dump truck full of garbage, not just letters, etc., but dirty, filthy table leavings and diapers, good luck with what they find.
      Yeeww!!!

      1. Oh, and now we have two trash barrels–one for recyclables.
        That employee would love this county.

  3. Old saying from the 70s. just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.

  4. If it arrives in the mail and has our name or address on it, it gets burned as opposed to being shredded or even crosscut.

    I would also add that you might consider a VPN Service Provider who is NOT in the US and absolutely does not retain log files with your IP Address. BTGuard is a good one for what that is worth. They have servers in Toronto and Amsterdam.

    For day-to-day online browsing, I use a combination of various browsers with a VPN provider based on what I’m doing online, i.e. work vs personal. Two that I prefer are “Aviator” and the “Tor” Browser.

    Now, I’m not doing anything so nefarious online that it demands these privacy workarounds. But, I also don’t leave my searching or data to chance and can’t trust anyone out there to protect my privacy. So, I do it myself…

    If we’re being honest here, just being online will get you snooped on at some point given today’s technology. And, it’s rather hard to beat the NSA when they are hardwired to get data right out of core network gear routing data for all the major ISP’s.

    Another tidbit is to physically shut down and restart your cable modem and router from time to time. Heck, put it on a timer to shut down daily before you even wake up. Odds are you are being attacked on some port and don’t even know it.

    And, if you have a smartphone, get rid of those apps you played around with just the once or twice. They probably have access to your contacts, photos, and browsing history during that easy to read disclaimer you clicked yes to.

  5. As far as those store cards that offer a discount if you sign up, they are getting bolder. One small chain offered a deeper discount on gas than the larger grocery store that had been offering a discount with their card for some time. The catch was, you had to have is connected to your debit card. I refused to sign up for it. The last thing I need to deal with is having my account drained because their business got hacked.

  6. Our garbage is picked up by a trash carrier with automatic “grabber”. I found out that the trash is then brought to a “transfer station” where it is sifted for recyclables. The people doing the sifting are trustees from the local jail or those on community corrections supervision doing community service work. Nothing to worry about there huh? I shred and then put the foulest garbage I can on top of the shreddings to sit in the sun for a week before garbage is picked up.

  7. https://duckduckgo.com/ is the search engine that does not track you.

    According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuckDuckGo);
    “DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by deliberately showing all users the same search results for a given search term.”

    I have been using it for about a year now and am happy with it. I will occasionally use Google for a specific search if unsuccessful with DuckDuckGo

  8. Your number one rule has always been mine also. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Unfortunately, people feel all too comfortable to share their info with EVERYONE online. I have followed several blogs including yours and MD’s for years, but never once commented on the “what did you do to prep this week” articles. Now that you are following suit, I hope that the people on this site will use caution when sharing about purchases or activities. If someone says that they bought 1000 rounds of .223 this week, you can bet that the NSA will know about.

    1. Rob, you “may” be exactly correct, except for the fact I shoot 1500 rounds of 223 a week :-)
      Seriously, I don’t feel that my purchasing a 1000 rounds compares to the feds buying 1 BILLION rounds… JMHO
      NRP

      1. NRP, you are correct…they don’t compare, it’s apples and oranges. They’re keeping tabs on us…not themselves.

  9. I absolutely agree with all steps to protect your privacy. However it is impossible to totally protect your privacy. So make every effort to be “normal” or the gray man. Avoid unusual things and try not to attract attention. Even simple day to day events can attract unwanted attention. Some of my preps are in my garage and I live in a typical nieghborhood, so I keep my garage door closed. I don’t usually let people into the house but sometimes that can’t be avoided so I keep certain things out of sight. A good example is recently I sold my home and when the inspector came through he discovered/saw a gun which was really quite well hidden. No big deal but under different circumstances it could be.

    1. Exactly!! A few years ago, I thought of re-financing; (didn’t happen, not a real savings for me), but the VA inspector had to see EVERY room AND photograph EVERY room. OUCH!!

      He was discreet in the two rooms of ####; when I asked why he did that for me, he said he and his wife had been storing #### for a while too!!

  10. protecting privacy might also include being wary about healthcare. There may be laws regarding healthcare privacy, but once the Doctor/Testing/Insurance Provider is hacked (or sold), there goes quite a bit of info about you.

    also, in North America, in past ten yrs or so, there has been a huge number of cases (at least fifteen that I have seen in the news) of odd thefts of laptops.
    — as I say, I have seen at least 15 in news..a doctor at a hospital downloads an entire hospital patient data base, leaves a laptop in a vehicle, and the laptop is mysteriously stolen. I have seen these reported stating patient info downloaded covered entire patient data base/info going back twenty yrs or more.

    -afterwards I have always seen some statement fr hospital that the doctor was doing research, that is why they accessed said data base. Really? how often does a particular research need an entire data base?

    -doctor leaves such valuable sensitive data unencrypted in a vehicle? Really?

    -doctor is never fired/charged for invasion of patient privacy. really?

    -is this info being sold?
    -is this info being sold to…
    ———– insurance companies to assess who to insure/deny claims?
    ———– employers to assess who to hire/deny?
    ———– blackmail
    ———– ?

    lots of privacy issues here, it seems.

    1. Never, never, never give your social security number to a medical office. It is not needed for medical care but most registration forms will ask for it. The number one hacking source for SS# is medical/insurance offices.

      The reason your doctor/hospital wants your SS# is for pursuing debt collection if needed, it has nothing to do with your medical care.

      Currently Medicare uses your SS# as an identifier but that is now being phased out in the next year or so.

      I also recommend a credit freeze to protect against identity theft. It varies by state but I think the maximum charge is $10 per credit bureau. You must freeze your credit at each of the three bureaus. Credit bureaus get most of their income from selling your information. If you freeze your credit the bureaus cannot sell your information and no one can apply for credit in your name. Thawing when needed is easy.

      1. You are so right! I work in medicine. We NEVER ask for the SS# where I work.

        Be very careful with your medicare card. Some people carry a copy of the card with part of the numbers blacked out. The office does have to verbally confirm the ID# (SS#) and go to the medicare website to verify insurance coverage, and your number goes on claims to medicare. So, your SS# is stored in the medical practice software program. Hopefully a very secure software program.

        By the way, when I go for medical care, I refuse to give my SS#. But, I pay everything I’m supposed to when I’m seen, so I’m not a “collection problem”.

      2. Most places here take a photocopy of your insurance card(s) and call it good. They still ask for the SSN on the forms but don’t blink an eye if you leave it blank.

        I did have a dentist who didn’t take insurance who really did want the number. I declined and prepaid.

  11. We are in the process of moving. Since the local political hacks, enviro-kooks, and girly men outlawed burn barrels some years ago, we have come up with a good way to neutralize sensitive paperwork. This is much less time-consuming than a shredder. Obtain a couple of stout yard waste bags and put them inside a trash can. Put your papers in the bags. Add a jug of bleach and just enough water to cover. Let sit overnight. Place in your trash bin. The bleach blurs the ink and dissolves the paper. Make sure you twist the bag shut tight. You do not want it to leak.

    1. Dweezil…

      so, it actually does dissolve the paper and ink?

      and is that a largish garbage barrel and an entire jug of bleach?

      1. It will blur the ink. I use COSTCO lawn and leaf bags. Add your paper, add one to two gallons of bleach to almost cover your paper, then fill with water just to cover the paper. Do not make the bag too heavy. It takes about one week. It does work.

  12. I don’t want a shredder. First, it costs money. Second, it uses electricity. But, I do want to destroy medical records and anything with personal information.

    A fire pit, the metal kind bought at Lowe’s, works just fine for me. I found it on sale for $39, so the price was right.

      1. I read a comic strip where the mother told the father she was going to shred some documents. The father, confused, asked when did they get a shredder? The mother answered since their little boy learned how to use scissors.

  13. Some time back it was established that anything in your trash is not confidential as anyone may claim it. This alone should make everyone shred sensitive medical records, financial data, and personal correspondence. While they are looking for items to make money from, say harvesting that computer equipment or appliances that you tossed, they might also come across the above. Just be more practical about it especially given the very high chance of identity theft.

    I remember reading an NRA article many years ago. It was made clear by experts that when you talk to LEOs they are trying to establish guilt. It’s nothing personal but the manner in which they are trained. They can even legally lie while doing this by saying things are off the record. You should never discuss anything with an LEO without a lawyer with you. Any words which you share with them can be misconstued and can greatly invade your privacy.

    I could explain all of the nuances of MAC addresses, proxies, and IP addresses, but I doubt Ken would like that. Every time you make a comment on any website, it can be traced back to the source. You have to balance this versus the importance of commenting. Even if say Ken started using the Disqus system for commenting, then that serves as a central repository for the No Such Agency.

    Two years ago, there were numerous FOIA documents and former government officials who disclosed that there exists a military program to subvert social media. They act to disparage commentors on various forums like this one, attempt to infilitrate them, and they are given extensive cover stories in order to blend in a plausible way. One simple should expect comments to be one way and not attempt to discover who commenters are in person. It’s a bad idea all around and extremely naive.

    Guard your privacy. We live in very uncertain times with desperate people and outright traitors both in the military and in the government. I would fully expect worse privacy concerns in the future with a sincere attempt to remove anonimity altogether from the Internet.

  14. one time the trash truck came down the street & the arm was misaligned. It picked up the trashcans & flung them up & over – & completely missed the hole. Trash guy kept driving down the street like there was nothing wrong. 90% of everyone’s garbage was flying loose in the street. The truck was fixed the next day & the same guy was driving it as if nothing had happened the day prior.

    It doesn’t matter how secure a system may or may not be. There’s always human error & mechanical malfunctions &/or anomalous bugs in the system that will mess you up. nothing is perfect.

  15. Even though I abhor social media such as Facebook twitter etc. I find that relatives or friends unwittingly put images or your personal information or data on their own pages.

    Discretely let them know to restrain themselves.

    1. @ Bone idle
      No reason to be “discreet” about it, just tell them not to be stupid and to knock it off. IMHO, I know I have told my family and friends to.
      NRP

      1. Im just curious why you have a smart phone. Why not just get a regular phone without all of the features that you have to turn off?

      2. You can prevent a cell phone from being tracked. Amazon ‘cell phone tracking shield’.

  16. ‘cell phone tracking shield’- foil-lined potato chip bag (one serving size) put your phone in it when you are driving to disable GPS tracking. Also disables receiving of phone calls. And you get to eat the Doritos/Potato Chips that came in the ‘cell phone tracking shield’.

  17. Just a question: If I am using an encrypted email service, doesn’t my recipient’s UN-encrypted email service defeat my purpose? Wouldn’t I need to correspond with clients who also use an encrypted service to really accomplish the total privacy I might want?

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