Authy is the simplest to use of these applications. It’s free, and it works as the second factor of authentication for the most common online services, including Gmail, Instagram and Facebook. Once you enable two-factor authentication on each individual account, you then need both your password and your phone to log in. Authy can also securely back up your information, so if you lose or replace your phone you won’t be locked out of your accounts.
Two-factor authentication doesn’t guarantee security, and it is vulnerable to hacking attacks like phishing attempts that spoof a login page, so you still need to be careful. Text-message verification is particularly bad, so you should stick to an app when possible. An even more secure option is a physical key like those from Yubico, though they can be a pain to use with some devices.
A webcam cover
For the past few years, the idea of covering your laptop’s webcam has been reserved for the paranoid or the important. The fear driving such an action is simple: As Wired has reported, a hacker, creep or domestic abuser could theoretically take control of your webcam.
But back in July, a much more mundane situation arose with the video-chat software Zoom. A security researcher revealed a vulnerability through which any website could open a video-enabled call on a Mac with Zoom installed. Zoom’s explanation for this? The company wanted to make it easier on the customer by requiring fewer clicks to start a call. This sort of security negligence is a likely more common occurrence than a directed hack of your webcam.
Wirecutter hasn’t tested webcam covers, but I did order a few of the most popular options from Amazon, and my favorite is the Imluckies Webcam Cover, which is thin enough that it doesn’t prevent a laptop lid from closing and doesn’t slide open by accident. If you have a desktop computer, you can also invest in a dedicated webcam, such as the Logitech C920S (the new version of a previous Wirecutter pick), that has a privacy shutter built in.
A paper shredder
A paper shredder to improve your digital privacy might not make sense at first, but a good shredder protects against old-school identity theft, which can still affect your digital life. If someone goes through your trash and pulls out a few bills, they could find your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and more.
Wirecutter recommends the AmazonBasics 15-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder for most people, though serious privacy mavens should step up to the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Shredder, which runs a little slower but produces confetti half the size of a cross-cut shredder’s pieces.