Got a router? If you’re connected to the public internet, there’s a router somewhere in the pipeline. It might be the one on Starbuck’s Wi-Fi. It might be the one from the telephone company or cable TV company that powers Wi-Fi in your home or office.
What’s the big deal about routers? The F.B.I. says routers need to be rebooted because of Russian malware. Which routers? Not all are infected, of course, but just to be safe, all.
That news should tell us that my mild paranoia about everyone out to get you might be a worthy road to follow. After all, if everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia seems to be the right attitude to have.
Here is what has happened to the masses of humanity in the past few decades.
First, the internet went public and now more than half the world’s population are connected. Second, smartphones came along en masse just a decade ago and nearly half the world is connected with a device that fits in a pocket.
Third, social media became the flypaper of unsuspecting humanity and captured the hearts and minds of nearly half the world’s humans. Interwoven through those massive changes you’ll find malware, hackers, authoritarian governments, and entities who track your every online move (and perhaps some– Google Earth, I’m looking at you– that are not online.
How can you protect yourself against this onslaught of multiple attack vectors which collectively erode you trust and take information about you that is only used against you?
I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but I’m afraid that about all you can do is, #1) go with the flow, but protect yourself along the way, or, #2) go off the grid and stay there.
#2 is not much of a life, so let me focus on #1. What can you do?
First up, limit your online life and track where you go. That means there is no need to sign up for everything and visit every website. Choose wisely. Make a list of where you sign up. Use a good cross-platform password manager because it helps maintain security and tracks where you visit and sign up.
Second up, trust no one. Not Target or Amazon or government websites or banking websites. All are engaged in tracking your online movements, so put a few speed bumps into the mix.
Also in the mix are basic requirements– upgrade or update your devices when new ones become available. Apple makes that easy for every Apple product; yet another reason to stick with a platform that works the old fashioned way.
Use an RSS reader to monitor and gather news and information from multiple sources and learn which can be trusted and which cannot (for example, do not trust Business Insider and do trust the Macalope.
Finally, forget all that noise about so-called mainstream media and the deep state. Conspiracies work with perhaps less than a dozen people, but go awry when the population of conspiracists grows. Spread your news sources wider, avoid the obvious riffraff, and look for different opinions and perspectives than those you hear in your echo chamber.
That extra effort is the price we pay for an online life and we need to learn to deal with it.