Keren Elazari: How to Stay Safe from Online Spies

Keren Elazari is a former hacker turned cybersecurity expert. She is also a celebrated keynote speaker whose TED talk helped shape the conversation about hackers and their important role in society.

In an article she wrote for Wired, she shares her tips and tricks to choosing secure apps and browser extensions, and teaches us how to stay safe from online spies

Start with your web browser

Keren recommends HTTPS Everywhere. It’s an easy-to-install browser extension that ensures your browser will always use encrypted web services whenever they are available. There is also EFF’s Privacy Badger extension, which blocks spying ads and invisibility trackers.

Protect your PC

For home or office computers, there are a lot of options. “The most basic would be a VPN or virtual private network, such as FSecure’s Freedome service,” says Keren. Freedome encrypts all of the data as it travels from your computer to the web, even if you are using a public wifi network.

For more advanced users, Keren suggests i2P, the Trials operating system, or Bitlocker, which is a hard-drive encryption feature built into the most editions of the wIndows Vista 7 and 8.

Don’t forget about your phone

Your phone may be one of the devices most in need of protection and least protected. Keren recommends mobile apps that prevent eavesdropping. For Android users, WhatsApp recently announced “a collaboration with the encryption developers at Open Whisper Systems to offer built-in end-to-end encryption.” And for iOS users, there’s Open Whisper System’s Signal app for encrypted voice and text messages.

Choose better passwords

“When it comes to choosing passwords, we all have a tendency to recycle,” relates Keren. “That’s why the most popular passwords are also the ones easiest for online eavesdroppers to guess, and then use to get into your accounts.” This is why we must be more diligent in our password choices. Keren suggests thinking of passphrases, not passwords. “Choose a phrase which you know, like a motto or song lyrics. Example? ‘KeepCalm&CarryOn’.”

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