Have you ever got the feeling that someone is listening in on your conversations? You’re not crazy. Bots track almost everything you do on your smartphone or computer.
Many online platforms are guilty of this. Google personalize ads based on your Gmail content. Facebook also uses your likes, interests, and places you’ve traveled. And messaging apps like often store your entire conversations on their servers. One bad data breach, and it can go public.
It’s not too late to stand up for your privacy. Here are the five best ways you can secure your conversations.
The Magic Word: Encryption
When it comes to increasing your security, the word you should always look for is “encryption.” Encryption is the process of converting data into indecipherable code. Only authorized parties, in case of conversations — sender and receiver — can decipher it.
Even if you don’t understand the technology behind it, look for terms like “AES-256” and “XChaCha20.” These are the gold standards of encryption that provide the highest levels of protection.
1. Use a VPN
Below are more details about the different ways to secure your voice, video, and text conversations. But everything starts with your internet connection. If somebody has managed to penetrate your network, then you’re already at a high-security risk. This is where VPNs come in.
What is a VPN? A VPN is a virtual private network. VPNs encrypt your internet connection to prevent anybody from snooping on your online activities. If you choose a VPN that uses the military-grade standards above, not even government organizations can track your browsing history.
Keep a VPN running anytime you connect to the internet to create a broad level of protection for yourself.
2. Text Securely with Signal
Signal is the gold standard when it comes to messaging apps. It uses end-to-end encryption so nobody but the sender and receiver can see message contents. Its protocols are so secure that Whatsapp and other apps use their technology for encryption.
But Signal has the edge because they take privacy to the next level. Other companies still log metadata and may have records of who you communicate with even if they don’t have the messages themselves. Signal keeps none of this and doesn’t sell any of your data to anyone.
3. Voice Calls and Video Calls
Signal isn’t amazing only for texting, but you can also use it for secure voice and video calls. It is another area where Signal has an advantage over Whatsapp, Facetime, and other clients. Those have decent, but not the best security standards.
If you’re looking for something more feature-rich and up to enterprise use, then also check out Wire. An original Skype engineer designed the app. It offers encrypted multi-person voice calls and other tools that Signal doesn’t have.
4. Wave Goodbye to Email
You can increase your email security. But emails have major security faults by-design. There are a massive number of entry points where somebody can intercept your message and see the content. You’re better off using a secure messaging service instead.
With Signal, Wire, and even Whatsapp, you can send files and do everything else you can do with email. It does improve your security a lot.
If you can’t ditch emails, then look into ProtonMail. ProtonMail is an encrypted email client. But both users must have ProtonMail for emails to remain encrypted between the sender and receiver.
You can also look into Enigmail and Mailvelope, which increase security for Thunderbird and Gmail clients. But be aware, there’s no perfect solution for email.
5. Improve Your Authentication
Like using a VPN, increased password security doesn’t improve only the safety of your conversations, but everything you do online. Even in 2020, a surprising number of people still use passwords like “password” or “12345.” They are more than easy for a hacker to crack.
Go beyond the basic password recommendations. Sure, 8-12 characters, numbers, and special characters make up a strong password. But that password is not always as random as it could be. Instead, use tools like a password manager that enable you to generate and store random passwords. No person could successfully brute-force attack your accounts.
Back this up with other tools like two-factor authentication and biometrics. It will ensure the only person who can ever access any of your accounts is you.
Secure Your Online Conversations
It’s impossible to guarantee 100% privacy and security in the online world. But these strategies are the best way to reclaim your privacy and prevent anybody from ever snooping on you again.