Many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety when it comes to being safe online. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as of September 2019 there were 27.5 million insecure internet users in the U.S. alone. That’s 77% of the population. For those individuals, cyber safety is more important than ever before.
Traditional means of protecting your information online – like usernames and passwords – can often be cumbersome. That’s why we’ve shifted to a digital security approach, which focuses on securing your identity rather than just your data. We’re talking about using authentication protocols, limiting the amount of information you share online, and being careful about which apps you install on your phone.
If you’re struggling with high levels of anxiety around the safety of your data, this article is for you. We’ll introduce you to the concept of Identity-Based Security (IBS), which applies the same principles of identity theft protection to digital security. We’ll discuss how ADT Pulse, a cutting-edge VPN app, can help you build a safer identity online so you can focus on living your life. Let’s get started.
It’s time to stop thinking about privacy and security in the context of your physical location. Your privacy and security are no longer within your own control. This concept is known as ‘Geo-fencing’, and it’s brought to life through technologies like virtual private networks (VPNs) and geofenced apps. Consider the following examples.
- You use a VPN to connect to the internet. When you do so, all of your internet traffic is encrypted, which makes it harder for hackers and governments to monitor your activity.
- You install a geofenced app to your phone. When you reach a certain location – say, a favorite coffee shop – the app will remind you of the safe practice of not sharing your personal information with third parties. Now, when you enter the coffee shop, you will notice a subtle difference: people will know you are a person of good standing, not a potential criminal. Your identity has been secured without your even knowing it!
- You visit a website that is asking you to enter your personal information (like a bank log-in or Nana app registration). If this is the case, the website’s owner has to trust you. If they don’t, you have no recourse other than blocking the site. You will not be able to track their identity in order to take legal action against them. This strategy helps protect you from phishing scams, where criminals attempt to steal your personal information via email.
- You use public WiFi. Every coffee shop, hotel, and pretty much every other location with an Internet connection has other people connected to it. When you use publicly available WiFi, all of your traffic is open to everyone. This means that people you’ve never met before can potentially see your personal information. Worse still, if your personal information is ever leaked, there’s nowhere for you to turn for help. Hackers own your data and there’s nothing you can do about it.
The takeaway from this is that you can no longer guarantee your privacy and security. Your physical location no longer provides the shield it once did from identity threats. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up all hope – far from it. With a little planning, you can still protect your identity online, just like you would at home.
Identity-based security is the idea that your personal information does not exist solely in the physical world. It also exists in the digital world, where your identity can be usurped by hackers and others who wish you harm. To illustrate the point, let’s examine a scenario where your identity has already been hacked. This is common when someone is impersonating you online. In these situations, you are no longer in control of your own identity. You are deemed to be the one person you’ve never been – your authentic self. This concept underlies all of ADT Pulse’s security features.
When you use traditional means of protecting your personal information, like usernames and passwords, it is stored in plain text. While this may be fine for casual users, it’s absolutely no protection at all against hackers and cyber attackers. They can simply look for these passwords in plain text and use them to access your accounts. In the event that your password is ever compromised, you’re game over. Your authentic self is now in the hands of your attacker.
What is Identity-Based Security? It’s the use of unique identifiers that allow organizations or individuals to securely connect with you, based on the principles of ‘self-sovereign identity’. In plain English, this means that your personal information does not belong to your employer, your bank, or any other organization. You own it. Self-sovereign identity is also known as ‘digital citizenship’, and it is embraced by a growing number of people – including leaders in government, business, and civil society.
The idea behind identity-based security is to utilize existing identifiers – like email addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases, physical addresses – in combination with a cryptographic technique called ‘hashing’ to create a ‘hash’ of your identity. This hash is the basis of all of your online interactions. It is the one and only identifier you will ever need to authenticate yourself to any website or service that asks for it. When you use ADT Pulse to log in to your email, for example, the app will generate a hash to verify your identity. In other words, the app will determine whether or not you are who you say you are based on your identity alone. There is no other information – like your password – needed.
Having a unique identifier for each of your online accounts and devices is an important step in establishing a safe identity online. It allows your trusted organizations to verify your identity, when necessary, instead of having to ask you for your username and password every time they want to do business with you. This is also the case for the other services you use to keep your personal information secure online, like Two-factor Authentication (2FA) via Google Authenticator or WhatsApp.
If you use the services of legitimate organizations, like your bank or email provider, it’s a good idea to set up a two-factor authentication. This means that you will be required to input a code – generated either at the swipe of a hardware button on a trusted device or via a text message sent to your phone – in addition to your password. It is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re logging in to the right place. When you use Two-Factor Authentication, the app will generate a unique code to verify you are, in fact, who you say you are in relation to the website or service.
While it’s great that the internet can be a place where you can share ideas, connect with new people, and access any information you want, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are still many threats to your personal information, no matter where you are, or what device you’re using. When you use public WiFi, for example, you are open to all comers. This means that your personal information could be vulnerable to hackers, who could steal your identity. Your data could also be vulnerable to government surveillance. No matter where you are, or what device you’re using, there are always threats to your personal information. What is unique about online threats is that they can be anywhere, anytime. This is why you need to take extra precautions whenever you use your computer or mobile phone online.
You can use various methods to secure your personal information online. Some of the most effective methods include the use of a VPN and a separate email account. When you use a VPN to connect to the internet, all of your internet traffic is encrypted, which makes it harder for hackers and governments to monitor your activity. This also has the added benefit of preventing your data from being siphoned off by third parties. When you use a VPN, your personal information is protected both online and offline. You can think of a VPN not only as a security tool but also as a privacy tool, because it forces websites you visit to respect your privacy.
An important thing to note is that not all VPNs are created equal. It’s essential to get a VPN that is reliable and has strong encryption. You can also use a dedicated IP to prevent your data from being routed through several countries, and to ensure you’re always connecting to the same server. Strong encryption provides a high level of security and privacy and prevents your information from being compromised. A VPN with these qualities is ideal for online security and privacy.