The definitive guide to cyber security for authors.

By Kyle Perkins.

Okay, so I have met a LOT of people in the indie writing community that have little to no knowledge on how to protect themselves online. So, I am here to help! I did an article in July for people to learn how to spot a catfishing account, and to prevent themselves from being duped. Now it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from everything else.

Well, first make sure you have windows defender turned on, and make sure you have Windows 10! If you don’t, you can get it for free here. (If you have Windows 10, windows defender is better than any security suite out there. It updates its definitions daily, and is made for windows. Windows security has come a long way, and most antivirus software that you purchase is bloatware that slows down your computer.)

Turn Windows Defender real-time protection on or off

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Update & Security.
  2. Select Windows Defender, then turn Real-time protection on or off.

Next, get yourself a popup blocker. The best I have found is Ublock Origin. It’s super lightweight and uses only a tiny amount of resources to run. You can get it for Chome or Firefox. This should for the most part keep you from clicking on things that you shouldn’t. Things that YOU let past your antivirus software by giving it access to your computer.

Now that your browser is mostly safe, you still need to fix your overall privacy.

Okay option: Proxies.

There are various proxies you can use to mask your traffic in your browser, but the problem is, it only work for that browser, or the tab you’re using it through. All other internet traffic is unmasked. You can use things like this, but I would recommend far better protection.

Better Option: TOR.

Tor Browser actually encrypts an entire browser through onion routing, which means it sends your internet traffic through multiple IP addresses before reaching your ISP or anyone else. Though, it still has the same problems as above, due to the fact that it only protects your browser, and not the traffic outside of that browser. Tor is also one of the ways you can access the deep web, but be warned, it’s not for beginners. Honestly, you should just stay away from the deep web altogether. Want more info on how Tor works? Click here.

Another thing about TOR, you create a new connection and session every time you use it. It doesn’t save anything, so you’ll have to put in your password, username, etc into every site you visit because it will never save that info, which can be a hassle, but trying to get privacy online usually is.

Best Option: Use a VPN.

The way a VPN works is, it routes all of your information whether uploading or downloading through another IP address between you and your internet service provider, and other people. Basically making it look like you’re somewhere that you aren’t. My favorite VPN so far is Privateinternetaccess. They are one of the only ones that never log any of your internet traffic, meaning no matter what you do online, there is no record being kept of it. (It’s not even allowed in Russia anymore because they told the Russian government that they don’t keep logs, and Russia didn’t like that.)

There are a ton of great features with PIA. See them here.

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Another cool feature is their kill switch. Meaning if the program ever was to fail, it kills your internet connection until it’s back up and running, so you’re never left exposed to your ISP.

You can also configure where you want people to think you’re operating out of. (Which is awesome if your country blocks you from going to certain sites. Just change your location.)

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Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, I don’t do anything wrong online, so I don’t care who sees,” but that is backwards thinking. You probably never do anything illegal, but that doesn’t mean you want a police camera in your bedroom. In an age where Russian and Chinese hackers can access your webcam and put it on a pay site for people to watch you all day long, this is a no brainer.

You can also configure this with phones and tablets. (Which will keep you safe on open networks, such as in Starbucks). Also, turn off network discovery. On your computers, phones and tablets. So no one can see you on an open network.

Do you pirate?

Of course not! It’s deplorable. Anyone that does is a total piece of shit! They should all be burned at the stake!

Except, the truth is, most people pirate. Furthermore, a lot of the people complaining about their books being pirated have no problem pirating movies, tv shows, games, etc. Some people don’t like being robbed by the cable company or being held ransom at over $150 dollars a month to watch one show they like. I have personally never pirated a book(Mostly because what’s the point? Indie authors give out their books all the time, and if I wanted one, I’d do one of their competitions. Common sense), but I have with video games. I’m not going to pay $60-$70 dollars on a video game that I may end up hating. If I like the game, I’ll buy it, like I did with Fallout 4. (Honestly, gaming companies should allow demos of the game, even if it’s just a 30 minute trial, that would let a customer know if they like it, instead of spending all their resources on anti-piracy software that always fails).

Anyway, I’m rambling. This post is about safety, not morality.

If you do torrent, the best option is Vuze.  It has many options to protect your privacy, and you can configure proxies right into the interface, protecting your traffic from the eyes of your ISP.

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Or you can use it together with your VPN, because it has a built in helper to use with Privateinternetaccess.

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The way you know it’s working with your VPN is by seeing the “routing” at the bottom right. It will be green when it’s working, red when it’s not, but if you use PIA, you’d know because the kill switch would have turned off the internet until it rebooted.

Short on computer storage and can’t use Vuze?

Then use Tixati. Everything above still applies, but it’s a super lightweight program.

Want even more info on further securing your browsers?

Take a look at this in depth article.

If you do all of these things, you can browse safely online, protect yourself from future attacks, and protect your privacy.

Has your computer already been compromised with adware?

This would mean you have constant tabs opening themselves, windows opening, etc. Normal pages you visit a lot suddenly look differently than what you’re used to seeing. Well, click here and run this tool. It will clean out the adware for free and clean the registry. When your computer restarts, it should be as good as new.

Has your computer been infected by malware?

Trust me, you’ll know if it has. It will feel like you’re not in control of your computer anymore. So, run this, and clean it.

Finally, if your computer is still slow, try uninstalling programs that you no longer use.

But don’t just use your normal uninstaller. It leaves items in the registry. Instead, use this. It does a deep clean after uninstalling a program, to remove every trace of it off of your computer.

Still slow???

Read this.

Special note for authors: Only use mobis.

Sending out your books directly to email is a sure fire way to get your book on a pirating site. All someone has to do is take that file and upload it to something like ThePirateBay and your book is free to all.

Instead, make it into a mobi file and send directly to kindles. It’s not 100% foolproof, but takes a lot more work for pirates than sending out a doc directly to their email.

You can also watermark every copy you send out, so that if a version goes online, you know who did it.

Good luck out there!

 

 

 

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