Securing My Digital Identity – Part 1: Preface


“Digital identity is the data that uniquely describes a person or a thing and contains information about the subject’s relationships.”

– Windley, Phillip J. (2005). Digital Identity. O’Reilly Media

I have this problem I call securing my digital identity. I would like to be safe in the Net. Now that we all know the NSA is surveilling all of us, it seems like a task very hard to accomplish. Not to mention all those online fraudsters lurking for our password and banking credentials.

Security always comes at the cost of usability. What I seek is not a complete anonymity but a complete plan for protecting my digital identity. I want to easily protect all the Internet services I use such as emails, social media accounts and other personally relevant stuff. I want to know what my risks are and how to recover from a breach or even a disaster.

I started out surfing the web maybe sometime at 1995 so I’ve been online for a while. My computer has since been visited by viruses, trojans, keyloggers and even a rootkit. Some of which were just a mere annoyance and some of which actually deleted my whole system drive. And these are only among the things I’m actually aware of.

My Digital IdentityI’m used to changing my passwords every once in a while. I have taken international web security courses. And I’ve been working in a software business over 10 years. But still I’m not a security professional. I always start out with good intentions but somewhere along the line it all breaks down. I begin using same passwords for different services and get sloppy in overall. What I need is a solid foundation to build on. Some sort of a backbone I can trust when the s*it hits the fan.

I think the problem with all the advice and information about internet security is that they are either too complicated or too general. As security expert Bruce Schneier put it in his Reddit interview: “We need to design systems so that non-computer-literate baby boomers can be secure without having to understand computer security.”

“These are hacker tools designed by hackers with an essentially unlimited budget. What I took away from reading the Snowden documents was that if the NSA wants in to your computer, it’s in. Period.”

– Schneier, Bruce (2013). The Guardian

On a great article “NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure”, Bruce Schneier has listed some means to protect yourself against the evil big brother. Be sure to check them out. This man is a living legend. The advice given is very thorough.

Design is slowly catching up but in the mean time I want to secure my digital identity as practically as possible. I want to build up layers of security starting out from the tightest credentials only accessible by me and me only. Then proceed to lower security credentials I could use for all public services I don’t completely trust.

As I said earlier, I am neither a security expert nor am I trying to act like one. I’ll try to bring up a new, personal perspective to this topic so debated and hot. I will use examples and advice from the real experts of the industry.

“Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. Use it well, and do your best to ensure that nothing can compromise it. That’s how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA.”

– Schneier, Bruce (2013). The Guardian

Do not disturb my digital identityI’ll be writing this blog series as I advance in my project which will hopefully be soon enough. Next I’ll be doing a basic risk assessment of my digital life.  There’s no such thing as absolute security. That’s why we need to make some trade-offs. I suggest reading Bruce Schneier’s “The Psychology of Security”.

Here is some more food for thought while waiting for next part of the series: Why Your Emails Will Never Be 100% Secure.

Blog series: Securing My Digital Identity

  • Part 1: Preface
  • Part 2: Risk Assessment
  • Part 3: Securing My Devices
  • Part 4: Securing My Connection
  • Part 5: Passwords and Credentials
  • Part 6:  Backing Up Everything

Stay tuned for more…

Imagery from Wikimedia Commons.