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Important recommendations for Online and Computing Safety, Privacy, and Security

Crideas BaneApr 28, 2018, 6:30:58 PM

I have no doubt that not everyone will agree with all of my suggestions or explanations. My hope is that everyone will at least agree they are useful for anyone who may not have in-depth knowledge of these topics. As with any new information about things that are complex, there are not really any simple answers that are guaranteed to be effective, and there is a LOT of misinformation on the Internet (Fake News!).

Hopefully this post will help to navigate the topics without adding to all of the confusion - but please let me clearly express that there IS a learning curve, and it will take effort on your part to learn about these things if you truly want to protect yourself. I am more than willing to answers questions if you ask me nicely.

Let's dive in...

Good news: New update regarding compatibility between the Brave browser and Sandboxie. Brave's newest version works great in the sandbox, which is wonderful. Read on for details.

Don't rely on Norton, McAfee or TrendMicro products

These common security solutions are the most often-defeated products out there. In a sense, they have grown old and lazy, and the malware authors often specifically target them because most people don't know any better and still rely on them. A next-gen security solution is required for effective protection in the digital age.

Recommendation: MalwareBytes AntiMalware 

(In my opinion the best in the business)



Sandbox your Browser & Email Client.

A ‘sandbox’ tool isolates the data from a program (like your browser or your email) to a specific, sectioned-off area of your hard drive. The sandbox keeps this downloaded data away from your operating system so that anything those programs do cannot change your operating system (because it is in a separate area of the drive) and any changes made by the program inside the 'sandbox' can be easily reversed by emptying the ‘sandbox’. This means if worst comes to worst and you click on a bad link or attachment, any malware infection will still be confined to the ‘Sandbox’ and you can remove it just by emptying the sandbox. Please note that this will not protect you if you click on a link to a scam/phishing website and then type in your username and password for a particular service you use. Your credentials will still be compromised by such an attack, and you should change them immediately if you realize this has happened.

Recommendation: Sandboxie



Get a Firewall

Comodo is Decent & Free, but watch out during installation and during updates for the sneaky screens that want to change your default Search and Homepage. The idea of a 3rd party firewall is to prevent unauthorized network instrusions, and also to prevent shady or unrecognized programs from making connections to untrusted websites.

Recommendation: Comodo Firewall (personal) 


NoteIf you combine Comodo Firewall with MalwareBytes, be aware that Comodo contains extra security components beyond the Firewall and they may conflict with MalwareBytes AntMalware - such as the Comodo "HIPS" module. This can be easily turned off in the Comodo settings.


Get a Software Inspector

A software Inspector program will scan the programs installed on your computer and tell you if there are new versions and updates available to protect you from the latest security exploits. This helps prevent your computer from falling prey to vulnerabilities in applications which have new security holes identified regularly (like Java and Adobe Flash, among others).

Secunia PSI (Personal Software Inspector) was awesome, but will be discontinued soon.

Recommendation: SUMo (Software Updates Monitor)

SUMo has a lot of room to improve in the "User Friendly" and "Intuitive Interface" areas, but if you can struggle through it, it will in almost all cases identify which of your programs are vulnerable so you can update or uninstall them.



Have a look at other options here:



Have a backup solution

There are tons of paid products you can use that leverage the reliability of Cloud storage, like:

SpiderOAK one

I use SpiderOAK One myself, because they are a 'Zero Knowledge' backup service. All backup data is encrypted and they do not have access to it.






among many others.

If you don’t want a subscription, you can also just get an external hard drive and set up the Windows backup tool:


How to open the Control Panel from the Start Menu in Windows 10 version 1709

Location of the Backup & Restore Utility in Windows 10 if your Control Panel is in 'Icon' view. If you are in 'Category' view, then go to Control Panel > System & Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Note: if you use an external HDD to do your backups, I do NOT recommend leaving the external Hard Drive connected at all times and having the Windows backup tool do automatically scheduled backups. The reason for this is Ransomware. 

If you get infected with Ransomware, all of the files on your computer (including files on any attached flash drives or external drives) will be encrypted and the malware attacker will try to 'ransom' your files from you, by making you pay for a decryption key. 

If you simply make yourself a calendar reminder to manually connect your external drive and manually initiate your backup jobs (and stay disciplined in doing it), then if you get a ransomware attack, your external drive should not be connected to your system, and it will not be encrypted by the malware.

This means you can use your computer's recovery disk or partition to wipe the drive and restore the operating system back to the factory state to removed the malware (in 99% of cases). After the OS restore make sure your computer boots up properly and that there is no sign of infection. Once you are confident the system is clean, then you can connect and use your backup drive to RESTORE all the files you lost.

Consider getting a VPN (or at least a free proxy

VPN (short for 'Virtual Private Network') services and Proxies enable you to avoid having your internet traffic spied upon and your location easily tracked. They are excellent protection for your privacy and security. 

Streaming services nowadays (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) play 'Whack-A-Mole' with VPN services, trying to block the network addresses used by VPN providers to prevent customers from circumventing region restrictions. That said, there are many decent ones to choose from, such as:

Private Internet Access (contributed by @KeksiusKekenberg)

I ended up going with this because it is affordable and effective


Virtual Shield






OVPN (contributed by @BudgetBaller


Some articles for further research:



Get Identity Theft protection/insurance

In the case of the horrifically unthinkable scenario where your computer gets breached and some jerk in another country gains access to your email, bank accounts, wireless account, paypal, credit cards, cloud storage and other very personal, private, and sensitive data by stealing your identity – you will need someone skilled at helping to clean up the mess and who will help defray the costs of the disruption to your daily life and most importantly your finances.

Recommendation: LifeLock

(Cheapest insurance you'll ever find. ~$120/yr = Great value & Peace of Mind)



Consider a browser with better privacy controls

Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla may have the most popular browsers, but they also have incentive to collect data on your habits and sell it for money. Until recently Mozilla had a fairly staunch commitment to privacy, but it has been eroded somewhat. You should consider a newer browser created explicitly with protecting your privacy in mind.

Recommendation: Brave browser (contributed by @BudgetBaller)



[UPDATED]Note: With the latest version of the excellent Brave Browser (which feels a LOT like Chrome and is now my default), Sandboxie works perfectly. This means that the security of the Sandboxie sandbox combines with the malicious script, pop-up, and ad blocking functionality of  Brave. It is a remarkably pleasant browsing experience. (2/13/2019)

[Old, outdated info quoted below - kept in the post for historical reference only:]

The Brave browser is not currently supported by and may not work with Sandboxie. It would be great if these two groups would collaborate to make this combination viable and reliably supported, but at current, if you want to use Sandboxie for that layer of protection, you may need to use another browser like Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Opera. There are some older reports that the two have worked in combination in the past, but the current versions (as of 5/10/2018) do not play nice.

Consider a privacy-focused search engine

Bing and Google, much like the popular browsers, have an incentive to collect data on users and sell it. If you want privacy, the only way to get it is to revoke your trust and go with a search designed explicitly with privacy in mind.

Recommendation: DuckDuckGo (contributed by @BudgetBaller)

(make it your default search, homepage, and install the privacy add-on)



Consider a secure, Open-Source Operating System 

(for Advanced Users)

You have more choices for what Operating System to run than just MacOS and Windows. Linux, for example, is FREE, secure, and Open-Source (underlying code available to the public).

Operating Systems such as one of the excellent FREE builds of Linux may be an excellent option and possibly the future of computing. Each build has its own flavor and focus, so this will involve research and effort on your part to learn what is what, and then how to use the OS and what to expect as normal. One of the things you have in your corner in such a case is that the Linux community has sites full of helpful and knowledgeable people who will welcome you and help guide you to making the best choices and use of Linux (but just as with any online community, keep your guard up and your skepticism engaged, because some people are not a positive influence or give out bad information). Still an adventure worth pursuing, but make sure you have some way to restore your machine back (backup solution and factory restore drive, etc) in case your experience is not positive.

Recommendation: various Linux builds (a.k.a. 'distros' - short for 'distributions' which is another word for 'build' or 'version')

(contributed by @gnugaz)


Here is a fantastic post by @Luculent with the info you need in order to get started with testing out Linux on your MAC or PC - without altering your main Operating System Installation!


I am glad you read this far! Let's get the word out and help people make better choices to protect themselves, thereby encouraging tech companies to serve their users in more principled fashion. 

After all, if people lock down their data and starve the Tech giants, they will be forced to wake up and find another way to turn a profit. They will no longer be able to afford losing customers and revenue due to predatory data privacy practices which drive off their increasingly aware customers. 

If you don't offer a 'free-for-all' on your data, they will be forced to find another way to make money that doesn't put your information and privacy at risk. Let's give them a reason to change, after all, they need us.

If you found this guide useful, please upvote, comment and remind. Thanks!

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