Use these basic measures to teach your family how to surf safer
Even before the dreaded broadband privacy law was passed by the US Congress, people have been searching for ways to protect their internet activities, personal information, and browsing history.
With so many access points to the internet, it’s quite hard to know what to look for or where to even begin. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise that most people are confused when it comes to protecting themselves and their families against the data collection by their ISP.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to get started and here are four of them:
1. Use a VPN
The first recommendation is to setup the family VPN which protects your online privacy by creating a secure, encrypted connection – called a tunnel – between your device and the VPN’s server and then on to the rest of the internet. As a result, all information is encrypted during transmission and this protects your private information from falling into the hands of eavesdroppers.
A VPN also enables you to change your IP address to that of another country, allowing you to remain anonymous online. So, when you visit different websites, your ISP provider will only be able to see the IP address of a random server, not yours. This stops them from being able to see your browsing activities and anything else you do on the internet.
Make sure that you find a VPN provider that allows you to set up a cost effective package for all of your family’s devices. This means their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Remind your kids that they need to turn on the VPN feature everytime that they log on since devices like iPads will break the connection after the device is not being used for a period of time.
2. Use secure browsing extension
Created by Electronic Frontier Foundation, the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension is another must-have for you. With this extension, all incoming and outgoing connections to your web browser are secured and protected with SSL/TLS encryption, preventing your ISP provider from seeing the content of the websites you visit. As a result, while they will know that you visited YouTube, they would not be able to track what videos you watched there, or any specific pages you visited.
This is a good option for those families who don’t think that they can get their kids to adhere to the VPN rules. While maybe not as secure as VPNs, it is useful in that it is always on.
3. Adjust your DNS
DNS, or Domain Name System, is like internet’s telephone book. It’s a protocol that translates human-friendly domain names such as example.com into a machine-readable numerical IP address. However, there’s a catch: since your device is often configured to use the DNS of your ISP provider, they can see all the requests send by your browser. This, though, can be avoided by making sure you don’t use your ISP’s DNS and a great way to do that is to set your device to use OpenDNS or other third-party DNS providers.
4. Try to avoid free public Wi-Fi
Let’s face it, with data plans being expensive, no one wants to waste precious MBs when they can browse the internet for free at the local coffee shop. But it’s important to note that whenever you connect to a free public Wi-Fi network, you not only open your device to the ISP provider of that network, but also to everyone else connected to that network. Hence, if you want to access private data while you are out, it’s better to wait until you get home or use your VPN.
This can be a hard fight to win for parents since it seems illogical. Normally free is good, right? But building a good set of habits takes time and work. Teaching them to know where is safe to connect to the internet can help create necessary boundaries on using devices in general.
The uncomfortable truth is that unless sturdier online privacy protection rules are put in place, the protection of your privacy rests in your own hands. However, now you are off to a good start when it comes to protecting your family online from greedy, data hunting ISPs.