On the internet, security and privacy are two sides of the same coin — one is worthless without the other. Privacy ensures that nobody can exploit your personal information without your knowing consent. However, with weak security, hackers and scammers can smash through privacy protections and take what they want.

An online security failure comes with potentially dire consequences. Individuals can have their identities stolen and their accounts compromised for nefarious purposes. If a hacker gets onto your system, they can lock up your files with a ransomware attack, forcing you to pay to get them back.

If you follow the news at all, you’ve probably heard about especially devastating attacks like the Colonial Pipeline hack. One interesting thing about security is that the same weaknesses that lead to multimillion-dollar losses also threaten private, individual systems — and the same principles can be used to fight back.

Encryption is the most important tool for defending your online security. Through encryption, communications between two devices are converted into codes that can only be decoded with the proper keys.

It’s a simple concept with complex implementation, vital in many situations. In the articles below, you’ll learn about symmetric encryption, asymmetric encryption, hashing, and more, including how they’re relevant to your life online.

Thanks to the proliferation of the https standard, most online communications are encrypted automatically without you having to do anything. However, https doesn’t provide perfect security. Much of the data around communications remains unencrypted, including DNS requests, which can be used to reconstruct your browsing history.

You can pick up where automatic encryption leaves off by using your own tools, such as virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs take all communication to and from your device and place it in a secure “tunnel” using one of several field-tested encryption protocols. Some come at a cost, but there are plenty of high-performing free options.

Privacy Journal has all the articles you need to choose a VPN and put it to work. We’ll also teach you how to wield other privacy weapons, like firewalls — they sound sci-fi, but you’ve probably got a powerful in your router. We’ll show you how two-factor authentication and password managers put you in a stronger security position.

One point you’ll see over and over is that true security has to work on the low-tech level, too. Social engineering scams are one of the biggest threats to online security. These attacks work by gaining your confidence and getting you to hand over the keys to your secure fortress. If you can’t catch them, all the encryption in the world won’t help you.

In our articles, we’ll lay out basic, effective security tips: how to create and remember strong passwords, how to spot a suspicious email, when to click on an unknown link (never), how to make encryption work for you, and so much more. With our help, your computer will become a castle, where you’ll rule as monarch of your online life.