This guide was written to teach every day users how to better protect themselves while online. The state of online security worldwide is ridiculously low; companies and users alike use billions of dollars each year as a result of cyber crime. This article will–hopefully–help you protect yourself from hackers, corporations and even the government from spying on your online activities.
In today’s high-tech world, huge conglomerates such as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have a distinct and ominous online presence. Rather than treating their customers with dignified respect, these companies (as well as many software developers using DRM and phone-home techniques) spy on your Internet connection and report back to their “home base” what you are doing. This is no more than glorified corporate spyware, and you can protect your computer and Internet connection by using a series of easy steps. So aside from using the best wifi extender, there are also other ways that you may consider for your protection.
The most prudent measure to prevent your IP from reporting or connecting in any way to government, data mining or industry machines is to install a popular and free piece of software called Peer Guardian. Peer Guardian will stop all connections to possibly malicious data mining companies, so that your traffic will not connect to them; this means, for example, that you could use BitTorrent or Limewire without having to worry about corporations snooping your connection and wasting your bandwidth. This is not, of course, meant to encourage software, music or film piracy, but to protect the innocent. Peer Guardian is available for free download from http://phoenixlabs.org/pg2/
Another step to protect your information over the Internet is to never use unsecured wireless access point. Wi-Fi has been abundant in metropolitan areas; it’s nearly impossible to not have a “free” network enticing you to connect. Remember, however, that these unsecured access points allow your traffic to be sniffed by anyone else in the area. If you must use an unsecured access point, make sure you always use SSL connections to log in to your e-mails or banks. In FireFox and Internet Explorer, you can tell that you are on an SSL-encrypted page by the gold lock icon in the address bar of the browser. If you can, logging into a VPN server with encryption and tunneling all of your traffic through it is ideal for public Wi-Fi. Hamachi is a free VPN solution (design for gamers) that you can download at www.hamachi.cc
Lastly, if you are technically-savvy, you can tunnel traffic by using the SSH commend -D (Dynamic Port Forwarding in the tunnel menu of PuTTy). If you direct your traffic to your local IP address and whichever port you specified as a SOCKS proxy, you can have all of that traffic encrypted and tunneled through your SSH connection–perfect for public Wi-Fi or at work.
There are many other ways to stay secure other than the tips presented here; make sure to have a working and up-to-date antivirus (I suggest AntiVir; you can download for free at www.free-av.com) and anti-spyware program (such as Spybot Search amp; Destroy, available for free at www.safer-networking.org). Always remember that the Internet is not a friendly place for the unprotected computer.