Internet Security

5 Free Guides to Understand Digital Security and Protect Your Privacy 

Mihir Patkar 01-02-2020

With the number of data breaches, phishing attacks, and other digital threats facing us today, you need to know how to stay secure when using technology. Check these free online guides to understand digital security and protect your privacy.


Miscreants try to infiltrate your systems through various channels, such as your browser, phone, emails, and even the Wi-Fi networks you connect to. The first step is to learn how they carry out these attacks and then implement steps to prevent them.

Along with that, it’s also important to look at protecting your online privacy. Security and privacy are different issues, of course, but they are deeply connected in the technological sphere.

1. YourSecurity.Guide (Web): Protect Yourself Online In 2 Hours

YourSecurity.Guide teaches you to protect yourself online in just two hours

Your Security Guide is a place for beginners to learn what it takes to secure yourself online, in a step-by-step process. The website divides online security and privacy into eight categories: browser, password, phishing, device, public access, network, personal data, and advanced security details.

Each mini-guide gives you a few actionable steps and warns you in advance about how long it’ll take to implement. For example, it takes only five minutes to secure your browser, as the guide recommends the best browsers, extensions, and search engines.


The first seven steps take less than two hours to finish, so YourSecurity.Guide says you can do these while watching your favorite movie. Securing personal data is the longest, taking over 40 minutes, so you might want to save that for another session. Advanced security details can take much longer, as it’s up to you how many of the steps you want to practice.

If you like this approach, you should also check our own guide to improving online security and defending privacy The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy Everyone wants your data, reputable companies and criminals alike. If you want to build up your defenses and protect yourself online, let us guide you through how to improve your security and safeguard your privacy. Read More , which goes more in-depth with password security and secure messaging.

2. Ononymous (Web): Films, Games, and Guides on Online Security

Ononymous is a free collection of films, documentaries, articles, guides, and games to learn about online safety and best practices

There are a number of organizations fighting for your digital rights, as well as trying to educate the public on how to protect yourself online. These resources are scattered around the web. Ononymous gathers them in a single portal to educate yourself about online security.

The website includes content from Access Now, Center for Investigative Journalism, Digital Society Switzerland, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Front Line Defenders, Open Data City, Tactical Technology Collective, and The Tor Project. It’s a mix of films and animated documentaries, articles and guides, and online games. You can filter the content by type or producer.

Ononymous has a wide variety of resources covering several topics. There are broad subjects (the digital traces we leave behind) as well as specific problems (digital security for the LGBTI community in sub-Saharan Africa). Watch, play, or read to educate yourself about staying safe online.

3. Google’s Phishing Quiz (Web): Can You Spot a Phishing Scam?

Take Google and Jigsaw's phishing quiz to see if you can spot an email scam

The most common security threat on the internet is a phishing scam. You get an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate source (company, service, or your contacts) but is cleverly disguised. After thinking it’s real, you end up giving personal details that compromise your security.

It’s often difficult to spot a phishing scam. Jigsaw, one of Google’s sister companies, created an online quiz to test if you can tell a phishing email apart from a legitimate one. The quiz is based on security training exercises with journalists, activists, and political leaders.

In a series of eight questions, you have to click a button to say if the presented email is legitimate or a phishing scam. You’ll immediately get the correct answer, and the quiz points out the tell-tale indicators of phishing. So not only is it a quiz, but also educational.

Even if you get them all correct, send this quiz to others who you think are susceptible.

4. Email Self-Defense (Web): Learn Email Encryption

Email Self-Defense is the Free Software Foundation's guide to using GnuPG to encrypt and protect your emails from surveillance

It’s no secret that your email isn’t secure. Companies, governments, advertisers, and others can read the contents of your inbox if they want, without even notifying you. If you want to send something securely to another person, you need to encrypt emails.

The Free Software Foundation teaches you the basics of email encryption with its Email Self-Defense guide.

The website teaches you how to set up GnuPG on a desktop email program like Thunderbird or IceDove. GnuPG (GNU Privacy Guard) is an open-source way to use cryptography to secure data. It can protect a lot more than email, including files and identities. But its most frequent use is to secure email.

After setting up GnuPG in the first step, you will learn how to encrypt emails with private keys. It also teaches you how to send those keys securely to the recipient, so that only they can decrypt the email. It’s the simplest guide to email encryption using an open standard.

If all of this seems like too much trouble for you, there are a few secure and encrypted email providers The 5 Most Secure and Encrypted Email Providers Fed up with government and third-party surveillance of your emails? Protect your messages with a secure encrypted email service. Read More already online. They do the setup for you, but then again, you’re trusting your data to another company.

5. Pixel Privacy (Web): All About Protecting Your Privacy

Pixel Privacy is a fantastic blog full of privacy-focused articles, software comparisons, and guides to protect your identity

Pixel Privacy is an entire blog dedicated to teaching average folks how to protect their privacy online. The maker, Chris Hauk, is himself an IT expert who had his credit card stolen, email hacked, and identity compromised. That’s why he made a single space for regular people to learn about privacy.

Broadly, Pixel Privacy has six categories: VPN, cloud storage, backup providers, password managers, antivirus, and privacy guides. Each category informs you about the privacy failings in that sector and gives you best practices to avoid falling victim.

The team of bloggers also conducts detailed comparisons of popular apps and software to help you choose privacy-protecting services.

The Online Privacy Guides section among the best such resources we have come across. Each article uses simple English without jargon, gives the lay user actionable steps to secure their privacy, and gets to the point quickly. Pixel Privacy is one of the best ways to know why online privacy matters and to reclaim it.

Important Habits to Stay Safe Online

These guides about digital security and online privacy have already made you better aware of what to do. As is evident, the best way to protect yourself on the internet is to change a few bad habits and practices.

No matter what, ensure you follow these nine important habits to stay safe and secure online The 9 Most Important Habits for Staying Safe and Secure Online Read More .

Related topics: Cool Web Apps, Online Privacy, Online Security, Phishing, Scams.

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  1. anonymous coward
    February 10, 2020 at 2:37 am

  2. SnowFlake816
    February 2, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing these guides! One problem with viewing emails or browsing (and submitting forms) on a mobile device is that we tend not to care about the full sender's email ID or URL, which could prevent us from falling victim to phishing.

  3. dragonmouth
    February 1, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    "With the number of data breaches, phishing attacks, and other digital threats facing us today, you need to know how to stay secure when using technology. Check these free online guides to understand digital security and protect your privacy."
    Good advice as far as it goes. It sounds good but it gives users a false sense of security. Users can have bulletproof systems but their personal data can (and probably, will) wind up out in the wild.

    What all these well-meaning articles ignore is that data breaches occur on corporate databases over whose security/privacy individual users have absolutely no control. the "Internet" knows more about you than you know about yourself. Even if you never go online, your personal data is allover the Internet. All the companies that you come in contact with not only have the data that they required you to provide to them but also any other data that they have managed to scrape up off other databases.

    For example, very few people have direct contact with TransUnion, Equifax and Experian and yet these three companies have a record of every financial transaction everybody in the US ever made. Since individuals did not give them that data, how did they obtain it? The answer is that they got it from any entity that handles financial transactions - banks, mortgage lenders, stores, etc. In 2017, Equifax admited to having its database breached and 147 MILLION records compromised. How many of those 147 million people could have secured their data residing on Equifax servers? ZERO! The overarching and ever present question is "How many data breaches go unreported?"

    What about the companies whose only purpose is to harvest people's personal data and monetize it?

    The bottom line is , YES, you can prevent your personal data from being stolen from YOUR computer but there is absolutely nothing you can do about that data being stolen from other computers it is present on.