Super-Charge Your Online Privacy Now

By Lee Bellinger / November 12, 2013

Internet Privacy Being Invaded
Those who want to steal our freedoms, snoop on us, manipulate us, and exploit us never rest anymore. And neither can you. The good news is that many tools, individuals, and companies are on your side, helping you safeguard your rights and privacy.
LastPass and Cocoon are two privacy-defending products We’ve discovered that are worth your time to check out. Once implemented, they allow you anonymity to surf the Internet and a secure method to manage all your passwords.
1. Cocoon – Proxy Server [https://getcocoon.com/]
If we don’t take precautions online, our activity is trackable, observable, and recordable by virtually anyone with good or bad intentions. Cocoon allows you to take these precautions with a simple click of a button.
According to Cocoon: “an all-in-one plugin that makes everything you do online secure, virus-free, and private. Without Cocoon websites, hackers have access to your computer to leave cookies or infect it with viruses and malware. You even get protection on open Wi-Fi access points.”
What makes this a no-effort privacy and anonymity tool:
Cocoon -  Proxy Server
  • A simple on-off button. At its root, Cocoon is a proxy server. Proxy servers and their close cousins, the VPN, can be messy to configure and use. But Cocoon is a breeze. Install the Cocoon add-on, login to your account (store the password/username combo in LastPass, as described below), then click the ON button for safe and secure browsing. If you don’t want or need the protection, click the OFF button. You can do all of this on the fly; you’re always in control.
  • Secure browsing history, if you want it: Cocoon enables you to have your Internet cake and eat it too. While you’re browsing the Internet under Cocoon’s protection, your history is recorded onto Cocoon’s encrypted servers, not your computer. This setup protects you from history-stealing hacks AND enables you to search your history. Yet, with a simple click of the button, you can turn off Cocoon’s history setting and delete your entire Internet browsing record.
  • Time savings, protection from SPAM, and email phishing attacks. Another great Cocoon feature is their Mailslots (it’s like an online ghost address). These are disposable email addresses that are automatically generated and stored by Cocoon. You can generate as many as you need, keep them as long as you’d like, manage them, and delete them when no longer needed.
This is how it works; you find a free special report online. In order to receive it you need to enter a name and email address where they’ll send the report. The problem is, you’re not familiar with the company and don’t know if they’ll abuse your email address.
Let Cocoon create a Mailslot email address. The report is sent there, future emails from this company will also be sent here (since it’s the only one you’ve given them), and if you receive SPAM addressed to this specific email, you can ignore it and delete this specific Mailslot. Your regular email account won’t be compromised, you won’t waste time purging your regular inbox of SPAM, and you’ll have additional protection from email phishing scams.
Note: Cocoon’s Mailslots allow you to read and view your email, but you can’t reply to it (you can’t compose or send email from here). However, you can forward emails to your regular account and reply from there. It’s a very simple way to increase your privacy and security with almost no effort.
2. LastPass – Password Manager [www.lastpass.com]
Creating secure passwords is the first line of defense to protect your private accounts – online and otherwise. The problem is most people don’t do a good job of creating unique, strong, and secure passwords because it means creating long-length passwords that contain all character types (capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols – *&^?!), and worse yet, having to remember them.
Inventing secure passwords is difficult, tedious, and burdensome at best, especially because most of us need passwords for dozens of websites, products, and businesses (bank, broker, credit card) we deal with daily. Most choose convenience over security. They use the same, or very similar, passwords across different accounts, or create easy-to-remember (and easy-to-break) passwords such as “password,” “123abc,” “MickeyMouse,” etc. LastPass gives you the ability to choose security that’s strong, secure, and convenient.
What makes this a “no-sweat” privacy tool:
Last  Pass - Password Manager
  • You no longer have to memorize secure passwords. Creating strong and secure passwords is as easy as clicking a few buttons, plus you’ll never need to memorize any of them. (Note: You do have to memorize one master password for LastPass itself, but that’s it. Just remember one strong and secure password, instead of dozens).
  • You don’t even need to type in your username/password combination. Instead, with one click of the mouse, LastPass does it for you. (Note: in some cases the one-click feature is not enough. For instance, logging into Skype or another software program on your computer. Not a problem. Open LastPass, find the stored password for Skype, copy and paste the combination, and you’re ready to go.)
  • LastPass works on autopilot. When you activate LastPass, it sits quietly in the background. It recognizes when you arrive to a specific login page. If the web page is stored in your account, it auto-completes the log in. If the web page is not stored, it gives you the option to store it or create a new profile for that account. This makes it easy to update all your current websites and strengthen your password credentials immediately.
  • Helps avoid frustration. During our informal testing, we discovered some companies do not follow SAFE PASSWORD PROTOCOLS (further proof that you, and no one else, are responsible for protecting your privacy). The situation involved a well-known travel website.
In this situation, we set the length to 50 characters, using all available character combinations. The travel website didn’t accept our password. The problem: after a bit of tinkering, we found out the company only accepts 12-character long passwords or shorter, and it does not allow special characters! It would have been frustrating and a waste of time if we used paper and pencil to invent and test multiple passwords to fit this site’s protocols. Instead, with a few mouse clicks we simply readjusted LastPass’ parameters and let it generate an acceptable password for us. It was very quick and simple.
  • Secure Notes.” This is perfect little solution for securely encrypting and storing data like Social Security numbers, insurance policy numbers, software license information… anything you would normally type onto an unsecured and unencrypted computer document or handwrite into a notebook. (Note: you cannot upload and store files, pdfs, videos, or music, but you can type in these secure text notes.)
  • You can access it anywhere you have an Internet connection. It doesn’t matter if you move to a new home, buy a new computer, or are traveling on business, you’ll never lose, misplace, or forget your passwords.
When privacy tools are easy to use, more people use them often and consistently… raising overall security.
Both solutions work best with the Firefox web browser (currently, Cocoon is only available as a Firefox add-on). The encryption keys stay with you, meaning even their employees don’t have access to your account. And we’re only reviewing the free versions, which you’ll see are very robust. Give these privacy-enhancing tools a try. They’re so simple to use you’ll look forward using them and enjoy the protections they offer without any micro-management.
With a few simple clicks they run on autopilot and protect you from SPAM, give you better anonymity online, and free you from the burden of memorizing dozens of passwords, Social Security numbers, or other short-but-delicate data.