Decide the Security Levels You Need

Do you want anonymity, privacy, pseudonymity, or some combination—and for what digital resources?

How important are your emails? How much privacy should your identification have? Are you off the grid? (Or think you are?) Whether you realize it, your digital assets all have security settings to them and possibly to different levels.

The security triad is Confidentiality – Integrity – Availability. Concerning the confidentiality of a resource (such as a file or directory), you will determine what level of access to your content you’re OK with, what level each person or group you know should be assigned, and which content to keep secret as a whole.

As to identity, you can have private email and online browsing; it does not mean others don’t know who you are. Email could be encrypted to protect it from prying eyes, while at the same time giving appropriate access to a friend. Only they can read it, so it’s private from the world and not public.

While you are not anonymous if you register to use a cloud storage site like Dropbox or Drive, you can encrypt your files to maintain confidentiality. At home, you have privacy, but your neighbors know who are you are. But being anonymous, others do not know who you are, but possibly can see what you are doing. Keeping actions and activities separate from identification is anonymity. Your personal rules about assigning levels to data access, use, and transfer may be different than your rules for creating it.

If you use internet forums, you can use a different name or you can anonymize your website session while there, or you can anonymize your entire session using a virtual private network. This is an important issue in countries with authoritarian governments, like China, Russia, or Myanmar. The definition of what is a crime will vary, so the desire for anonymity will vary. In Western nations, privacy and anonymity is usually protected under law. The theft of your personal and private information or the viewing of your private emails are also against the law. Beware, some threat actors may be governments themselves, and your messages may not be anonymous even though your session may be.

Some people find it useful to create an alternate avatar or identity with its own reputation. People often do this for social media or forums. But a threat actor could create false posts to discredit the user they claim to be, a false alias for malicious purposes.

The levels of privacy, anonymity, and pseudo-anonymity are up to you. You should create a list of your digital assets and decide the level you’d like for each file or directory. Using a VPN can be an important first step in your personal Cybersecurity. We’ll continue with threats, threat actors, vulnerabilities, and risks next.

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