5 Tips on how to protect yourself from being spied on

Everyone has to reckon with hacker attacks © Fotolia 2015

Whether online banking, sending e-mails or shopping on the Internet: Anyone who uses an online service often has to leave behind their private data. With the NSA scandal, Edward Snowden and hacker attacks, trust in such services is suffering more and more. Five tips to help make it a little harder for the hackers.

According to a BITKOM study, it is not surprising that 81 percent of Germans are afraid of private data being spied out on the Internet. More than half (55 percent) have already been the victim of criminal Internet activities. Many don’t know how to protect their own data from being hijacked. Five tips for more security:

1. Encryption

The principle of encryption in electronic mail is quite simple. Every email has a sender and one (or more) recipients. Encryption only works if both parties protect their content – then no one can read from the outside. Klaus Schmeh is a book author and expert on encryption and says: "There are really good encryption techniques today that even the NSA can’t crack. There is also a huge range of programs that implement this."For every e-mail program, such as Outlook or Thunderbird, there are additional programs that help with encryption.

2. Spam emails

Three out of four e-mails are unsolicited. Although spam content is on the decline, the curious mails remain one of the biggest dangers on the Internet. Seemingly legitimate emails with invoices or information about online orders usually hide an infected file or a download link with dangerous malware. Most Internet providers have set up spam filters to screen out potentially dangerous e-mails, but enough still reach the inbox. Internet users should be careful and not click on attachments or links in emails of unknown origin.

3. When traveling: Use VPN

More and more companies are restricting access to online services on the go. VPNs are therefore becoming increasingly important when traveling. Those who don’t want to do without their online services while on the road face some security challenges, as the threat landscape in cyberspace has changed. For example, the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is crucial for travelers who want to access their private data and important services on the road.

4. Protect your hard drive

Encrypting data is much easier, especially on your own hard drive and with cloud services. Here are programs like Boxcryptor and Bitlocker that do it reliably and with a few mouse clicks. But beware: Messenger services like WhatsApp in particular have so far dispensed with encryption.

5. Update your browser

Apple has plugged numerous security holes in the Safari browser since the beginning of the year. For Apple OS X 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion), version 6 is now available.2.5, for OS X 10.9.5 (Mavericks) version 7.1.5 and for OS X 10.10.2 (Yosemite) the version 8.0.5 ready. Mac users should install this urgently, as the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) advises. Without the updates, attackers from the Internet may be able to run, for example, arbitrary programs on the computer or spy on information.

Linda Gondorf

Linda Gondorf works as an editor in Hamburg. The studied film and media scientist deals mainly with "this" Internet, the digital future, startups and the social media world. She is in charge of the print object of absatzwirtschaft in the department "Media and Communication" and the online presence.

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