Baseline Protection – How to Begin (Part 1)

The more ‘connected’ our lives become, the higher the risk that someone with bad intentions could use these devices to capture information about us.  Each connected device (while adding value by simplifying or enhancing our lives )  presents an opportunity for bad things to happen.  Fortunately, many of the risks can be dramatically reduced through small changes that you can control.

This series presents simple, straightforward ways to protect your privacy and security in the online world.  By reducing the noise and complexity of the deep technological details, we can present straightforward understanding of the risks of connecting another Internet of Things (IOT) device – like that security camera – and provide solutions that take little time to greatly increase your understanding and a reduction of your risk.

Your home … a safe place that you feel secure.  The heat on, the dock locked, watching tv and relaxing with only or with loved ones.  Each time your tv reaches out to the internet, more data about you is tracked.   Even if you are using HTTPS, that lock that you see on your browser only encrypts the data passing between you and the site you are visiting.

What your internet provider (and anyone else on the internet can learn is : where you are going (sites visited) , how often you visit, and also an incredible amount about what you are doing.  (Just look at the address at the top of the browser – all of that is viewable by anyone watching the ‘internet’.

Step One – Always Look for the Lock    If you think of the Internet as a wide open space, everything you ‘ask for’ (each web page you visit for example) and  the response (the information that you then see in your browser) is open to anyone to overhear.  Think of it as yelling down the street to someone.  Anyone who cares to listen, can and most likely will.

Many sites have started to encrypt these ‘asks’ and ‘responses’ in a secure tunnel known as HTTPS, it is still very much optional.  Whenever possible, make sure your browser communication remains in this encrypted (HTTPS) mode.

This is easy to tell via a ‘lock’ which appears on the ‘address line’ of your web browser.

Not all sites enforce https or automatically return their pages in an encrypted manner.

It is easy for you to request them to however, just highlight the text in front of the www in this case, and add “https://” to the front of the line.

This converts a non-secure interaction with the web page, into a secure interaction.

If you bookmark sites, bookmark the https ( secure / encrypted ) version of the page instead of the http version of the page.

This is critically important anytime you transmit personal or financial information.  Also important is that any tidbit of data that can be capture and added to a database about you and your family will be.  Watching that you use https will limit the amount of information (base line information, activities and habits) that are collected about you, your family and/or your business.

Step Two – add a VPN Service.  VPN is a way to add an extra secure tunnel between your computer (phone and tablets) and the internet sites you visit.  All traffic addresses and data (from above), now flow to a number of neutral ambiguous sites.  The request is then forwarded on, but any one watching will not know that it can from you.   These services are extremely secure and a great, inexpensive way to add security and privacy to your digital life.    Nord VPN is a great service that we have used for several years

Nord has a great application that encrypts all traffic from your machine to the internet, however often we have issues where a networks security will stop this from working.   Fortunately, they have a great browser plugin – allowing you to quickly and easily turn your VPN on and off.

You will want this on each device that you can install in on:

  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Tablets


Next up – simple scanning tools to see what on your computer is exposed (and ready to be exploited by people outside of your home or work network.


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