I asked myself what tools I would recommend to a friend or family member interested in securing their data and Internet activities. Some of these are for the more paranoid or technically-inclined, while others are practical to anyone using a computer.
I would recommend a password manager like 1Password to anyone, and here's why: unique, strong passwords are your first line of defense when protecting your data and privacy.
Passwords are both easy to forget and easy to neglect. Password managers solve both of those problems by letting you have unique passwords for every service you use without having to remember them.
Why I use it: I log into many websites and services daily. A lot, in fact. It would be impossible for me to remember unique and complex passwords for all of those. 1Password lets me do all of that, and it also allows me to choose where I store my encrypted passwords.
What you can expect: Seamless support for logging in to websites from major browsers on your computer, laptop, or mobile device. 1Password's interface and user experience are top-notch. Your passwords will be strongly encrypted -- just safeguard your master password.
Firewalls like Little Snitch allow you to control the network activity for your device. Application firewalls provide another layer of protection for devices that talk to wired or wireless networks.
You can select which pieces of software are allowed to talk to networked services. One example of a practical firewall use is locking down your computer or laptop when using an untrusted network (like WiFi at a coffee shop).
Why I use it: I use a lot of networked applications on a diverse range of wireless and wired networks. I have a good idea of when I want specific kinds of software to talk to the local network and the Internet, and I know on which networks I feel comfortable allowing that to happen.
What you can expect: A complete firewall solution with an excellent interface. If you're coming from one of the typical desktop firewall suites, you'll have just as much power without the terrible user experience.
DuckDuckGo is an up-and-coming search engine with a strong stance on privacy and loads of features. It may not be a security tool in the strictest sense, but its philosophy aligns with good security awareness.
Why I use it: The privacy features are a plus, but my main use for DuckDuckGo is its productivity enhancements. For instance, if I wish to search GitHub for Redis, I simply type
redis !gh and DuckDuckGo directs my search to GitHub. These !Bang commands} can be very powerful.
Mac OS X ships with seamless full-disk encryption as an option. This provides strong protection of data when your Mac is locked.
Why I use it: Full-disk encryption like FileVault allows me some level of assurance that it is reasonably difficult to get at my personal data in the event of laoptop theft, physical access to my device, etc.
What you can expect: FileVault will encrypt your drive, and OS X accounts that are allowed to decrypt the drive can do so using their account password.
Alternatives: Windows BitLocker.
The 1Password logo © 2014 AgileBits, Inc. All rights reserved. The Little Snitch logo © 2014 Objective Development Software GmbH. The DuckDuckGo logo © DuckDuckGo.
This written work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.