Keeping your info private from hackers and the government

Many people don't know about the many ways to shield their info from spies.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/AP) – It’s not just hackers who may be looking at your information online. The government could also be monitoring your online activity.

Nearly two years ago, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked confidential documents showing the U.S. government had been monitoring online communications for years to intercept terrorist threats.

According to a Pew Research Center survey released on Monday, more than half of Americans are worried the government is monitoring their emails and activity on the Internet. 22News is working for you with ways to improve your online privacy.

First, don’t look for information through popular search engines like Google that save your search history. You can see proof that the search engines save your information when you see advertisements tailored to your interests. If that information is saved, it can be tracked. There is a small search engine known as DuckDuckGo that’s becoming popular because it pledges to never collect personal information or track people.

Second, you can look for encryption programs like Pretty Good Privacy that scrambles your emails so that they look like jibberish to outsiders. This can prevent any private conversations or financial or business information from getting in the wrong hands.

Third, you can cloak your browser. There are programs like Blur that allows you to surf the Web without being tracked. It essential makes your searches, passwords and credit card information invisible to outsiders. Blur offers the program for $39 each year. There’s also Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that offers a free way to block spies from tracking your browsing activity.

Some people, like Anastasia Brown, told 22News they are careful with what they post on social media and with how they choose a password. “I just use like a different combination of passwords go between. Just change it up every so often…You can put it on private so not anyone can see it, just your friends can find you, not just any random people,” Anastasia Brown told 22News.

Fourth, try simply to cut out the Internet altogether. Email and social media may be easy and popular ways of sharing information, but if you’re worried about protecting that information, the best way to do it, might just be by sharing it face to face. That’s what Laura Cardaropoli of West Springfield says she does. “I prefer to do things in person. I like to shop live and talk to people. I go on the Internet here and there but you know I like to do as much as possible offline and in person,” she told 22News.

Fifth, do your research. As dangerous as the Internet can be, it can also provide you with the tools you need to stay safe. You can start that research through the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense site, or here.

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