Protect Yourself From NSA Tracking: 6 Simple Steps

When the details of the NSA surveillance program called PRISM came out, people worldwide were outraged (well, all but the conspiracy theorists who were proven correct, shouting “I told you so” to prior disbelievers.) Now, people wonder, “How can I protect my data and myself online?”

NSA TrackingOne way: decrease reliance on the cloud. But is that even possible? According to an IHS iSuppli report conducted in 2012, it is predicted that by 2017, a staggering 1.3 billion users will subscribe to cloud services of some kind. Whether bank information, files, videos, or photos, it all requires the cloud. But after PRISM details were leaked, users are thinking twice.

 NSA Tracking: How Can You Protect Your Data?

Because the majority of tracking is done on the server side of things, there isn't much an Internet user can do unless they give up the cloud altogether. However, there are steps you can take to avoid the likelihood you are a tracking target.

Here are six ways you can decrease your reliance on the cloud:

1.  NSA Tracking: Ditch Dropbox

Although cloud-based storage is convenient, especially for collaborations, services like Google Drive and Dropbox are easily trackable. Rather than sending everything to these services, save them to your hard drive or an physical external drive. This will remove the risk of someone else being able to access your data completely.

To tighten up the security of your hard drive, you should think about disk encryption. A password protects your data, even if someone steals your hard drive, and only someone with the password can access your files. If you are a Mac OS X user, rely on FileVault to encrypt your disk, while Windows users (Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows 8 Pro) can trust BitLocker that comes pre-installed to keep their files under lock and key. Don't have any of these operating systems? You can download TrueCrypt, DiskCryptor, and other third-party programs for free.

2.  NSA Tracking: Goodbye, Webmail

Rely on Gmail or Hotmail? Don't. Switch to your installed email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, or Apple Mail. Your cloud-based web email client will be exposed to tracking, while these locally installed options will be safe and sound.

Encryption is another method of protection when sending mail to other servers. The easiest way: GNU Privacy Guard. Windows and Linux users can download Claws Mail, while OS X users can download the GPGMail plugin.

3.  NSA Tracking: No More Online Banking

According to a 2012 Pew Internet report, 61% of Internet users conduct their banking online. Yes, this is a big timesaver, but more of your sensitive data is being put into the cloud, therefore being more susceptible to tracking. To lower your risk, go back to old-school paper banking.

4.  NSA Tracking: Desktop Photo App

Yes, Flickr is great. We all love that Grandpa Charlie, 2,000 miles away in CA, can view your recent vacation photos, and that all of your photos are in one place, easy to access in the event your computer crashes. However, to reduce tracking likelihood, email those pictures to Grandpa Charlie (encrypted, of course), and store your pics on an external drive.

5.  NSA Tracking: Back To MS Word

Just like with Google Drive and Dropbox, Google Docs is a great way to collaborate with others on a big project. However, to keep your data from being a tracking target, rely on MS Word or another word processing program stored on your hard drive instead.

6.  NSA Tracking: Encrypted USB Drive

This article has mentioned an external drive a few times. It's a great way to have your own little personal cloud at home, offering loads of space for your photos and documents while keeping your hard drive free of clutter. However, it's not easy to travel with an external drive. A USB thumb drive is a great option for documents on the go, but assure it is an encrypted. This keeps your data safe in the event you've lost it.

Would it be tough for you to consider going as cloud-less as possible? Do any of these suggestions strike you as impossible? Tell us how you feel by commenting!

Top 5 Reliable Web Hosting Companies

Reliable Web Hosting Providers

In your quest to find the perfect and Reliable Web Hosting solution for your business, all hosting companies start to blend together. How can you sort out which company is best? Not just in terms of price. Yes, you are looking for cheap web hosting. But at the same time, you want to make sure it is a reliable web host. How do you know which company will provide the best of both worlds: reliable and affordable? Reliable Web Hosting

We've discussed how to search for the best web host before. One of the most important steps you can take is to read reviews and find customers you can contact directly to inquire about their experience. After all, who better to ask about the reliability of a web host than another company that relies on their hosting services?

Top 5 Reliable Web Hosting Companies

Web hosting professionals .org compiled this handy list of the best and Reliable Web Hosting companies of this year, selected based on customer reviews and overall reputation with other hosting review websites. Use this list as a starting point, ultimately leading you to not only the most affordable web host but reliable too.

1. iPage

ipage

Besides offering customers a low price for hosting services, iPage also offers many features that other hosting providers don't at this price point. Many hosting review sites have given iPage the ranking of top hosting provider thanks to its ease of use and an amazing number of satisfied customers.

iPage offers one of the easiest to use control panels, full of tools customers can use to modify and maintain their page. Offering unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and email addresses, free domain registration, security tools, online store, and credits for marketing and search engine services starting at just $1.99 per month, it's safe to say this is a great hosting company for the startup or individual mindful of budget.

2. InMotion Most Reliable Web Hosting

inmotion

InMotion web hosting offers its customers excellent performance. It has been awarded the title of top and Reliable Web Hosting company, and with one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings around the Internet, it's easy to see why.

It's a bit pricier than other hosting companies, but its high level of performance makes it worth every penny. This is a great option for business websites, where performance and reliability are crucial. If your site is expected to receive heavy traffic, this web host can handle it! Get yourself a business hosting account starting at $4.19 per month.

3. Web Hosting Hub

hub

Web Hosting Hub is yet another in this list of web hosting companies that has received praise on numerous review sites. This host brings the small business a high-quality web hosting experience. Individuals can find value in their services as well as they are affordable and reliable at the same time.

Users will love how easy it is to use, and it is perfect for those just starting out in the world of building websites. If you are looking for a host that is both reliable and affordable, this is a great choice. Sign up for as little as $3.99 per month.

4. Bluehost Reliable Web Hosting

bluehost

Bluehost brings its customers all over the world quality services at a low price. This company is perfect for the small- to mid-sized business or individual looking to pay a little for a lot!

At just $4.95 per month, you get unlimited domain hosting, bandwidth, storage, and email accounts along with the free domain. Bluehost will have you up and running quickly and is an excellent choice when you want to host multiple websites on the same account. $4.95 per month visit

5. GreenGeeks Reliable Web Hosting

greengeeks

GreenGeeks is new on the hosting block, based in Los Angeles and offering customers reliable service that is eco-friendly! They rely on wind power, a carbon-neutral company. Since their inception, they host over 100,000 sites in 150 different countries.

This is a great option for beginners, as it is extremely easy to use. The control panel is user-friendly, allowing customers to feel more in control when building their blog, website, email accounts, and shopping cart. For $4.95 a month, they may not be the cheapest, but they are definitely reliable!

Do you rely on any of these top choices for your own website?