A mere-mortal's guide to security and privacy online – Part 5: Instant messaging

May 24, 2019

I‘m often being asked two questions when it comes to instant messaging (IM): „Why are you not on Facebook Messenger?“ and „Why are you not on WhatsApp?“ My usual answer is that I will never join a messaging service or social network that is owned in-part or fully by Facebook because their commercial incentives are 180 degrees opposed to what is good for me as their potential user. Usually, I will earn a „take off your tin-foil hat“ kind of stare and we move on, but rarely people will ask what to use instead and why, this post is for these people. So in the second part of my series about online privacy, I will have a look at instant messengers, how to choose them wisely and why „It’s what my friends use.“ should not be the only deciding factor in a privacy-conscious choice. ... Read more

A mere-mortal's guide to security and privacy online – Part 4: Advertising and tracking blockers

May 22, 2019

Every computer user is familiar with the following scenario: you are planning to make a purchase of, say, an electric toothbrush or a similar consumer good. Because there are hundreds of options from different manufacturers you go on to do some research on various websites and finally search Amazon for the option with the best price. So far so good. However, when you go to check the news on the Guardian, the New York Times or a similar publication, all advertising spots are full of electric toothbrushes. Coincidence? Far from it! In this article I’ll describe how tracking works and how you can protect yourself from the most egregious methods of social and advertising networks. ... Read more

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