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4 Consumer Security Tools That Won’t Make Your Head Hurt

If the major data breaches at big-name retailers have made one thing abundantly clear, it’s that consumers need payment methods that more effectively protect their privacy. These incidents have put enormous pressure on payment vendors and banks, and spurred the quick adoption of new security technologies.

The latest in these new security rollouts is a payment card rolled out by Visa and MasterCard that’s embedded with an “EMV” microchip, which contains a cryptographic key for authentication. And October 1 was an important milestone in the transition to this safer payment technology. It was the deadline for retailers and banks to install compatible, chip-enabled card readers for their customers. Those companies that don’t comply with this standard are now liable for any fraudulent transactions. This is an important step forward in consumer privacy protection, but consumers still need to keep their guard up.

While the new microchip technology is a major cyber security development, there are other tools consumers should use to reduce their risks in cyberspace and safeguard their personal information.

DuckDuckGo: Many search engines now leverage user data to filter results and serve up ads that are “more relevant” for the searcher. This raises some significant privacy issues, as companies take in users’ information, store it in their databases and sometimes share it with third parties. This is where the search engine DuckDuckGo differentiates itself from the masses. It doesn’t track or profile users or employ personalized filters.

Aside from its privacy protection capabilities, DuckDuckGo offers a number of useful features, including a barebones interface, instant answer results and advanced search operators (called “!bangs”) that allow users to search different websites directly from DuckDuckGo.

Disconnect.me: While DuckDuckGo is an outstanding tool, it handles just one aspect of online privacy: web search. Disconnect aims to provide a more complete online security and privacy package containing a number of solutions. The free version of Disconnect includes:

  • Malware and tracker blocking for desktop
  • Tracker statistics
  • Anonymized search through the engine of the user’s choice

With a premium subscription (currently $5/month), users get upgraded tools that work on mobile and desktop devices. Additionally, premium subscriptions enable access to the Disconnect VPN servers and encrypted tunneling. For a small fee, users receive an all-in-one personal web security tool.

Blackphone: Many users feel that smartphone and app makers too often compromise on security. But SGP Technologies’ Blackphone is an entirely different breed. Based on a version of Android that has been heavily modified for security protection, Blackphone connects users through a private VPN and comes pre-loaded with a range of security-minded apps. For those who regularly conduct business or transfer sensitive data via smartphone, this is a single solution that can make security a whole lot easier to obtain.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read: When it comes to privacy, the devil is most certainly in the details. How a company’s service will use your information and keep it protected is explained in the terms of service. Yet given the length of this document and its confusing terminology, few users actually read and understand what they are agreeing to. Terms of service; Didn’t Read (TOS;DR) is a simple browser plugin that aims to make consumers more aware of their privacy protection with these online services. When a user enters a website that’s been catalogued in the TOS;DR database, the plugin will provide an alert that summarizes key terms in the privacy policy and informs on actions a user might want to take.

While all of these consumer security tools are commercially available, organizations that need a deeper level of understanding or more complete protection should explore Lunarline’s suite of security solutions. Lunarline helps both individual and corporate users stay protected and secure online, with innovative security products, services and education. For information on how we can help your organization, visit lunarline.com or contact us today.


About Spence Witten

Spence has somehow survived ten years at start-ups and small businesses without suffering a (major) nervous breakdown. As Lunarline's Director of Federal Sales, Spence actually loves working on proposals. If there were any doubt, this is proof that he is in fact certifiably insane. While his title says "Sales" Lunarline doesn't let him off that easy. We make him do real work, too. Luckily he's a recognized subject matter expert in security policy and loves helping clients navigate their way around tricky security compliance standards. He's also been known to lead a software development initiative or two, though that pretty much always ends poorly for everyone involved. He can be reached at spence.witten@lunarline.com.