#CyberFLASH: Extreme online security measures to protect your digital privacy – a guide

Cyber-700x5001 Secure your email

Outlook and other email clients let you install a personal security certificate, which you can use to encrypt email so that only trusted recipients can read it, or digitally sign your messages to prove that they came from you. You can get your own certificate from comodo.com and it doesn’t cost a penny. The catch is that your recipients will need to be using a compatible email system – if they’re using Gmail on their smartphone, they’ll just be annoyed when you keep sending them unreadable strings of garbled data. “It also means you’ve got to protect your laptop,” points out Tony Anscombe, security “evangelist” at the antivirus firm AVG. “If your laptop’s stolen and your password is written on a Post-it note on the screen, then what’s the use of the encryption?”

2 Get virtual

Running programs in a virtual environment, rather than on your “real” desktop, makes it harder for viruses to sink their claws into your computer and if you do get infected, it’s easy to roll back your software to an earlier state. “It’s a complex thing to do,” warns Anscombe. “But there are benefits. If I wanted to download something that I was suspicious of, I might do that in a virtual machine, then disconnect the VM from the network before opening it.” Virtualisation isn’t a panacea, though. Many attacks are aimed at stealing your passwords and banking details; if you get tricked into revealing these, virtualisation won’t make a blind bit of difference.

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