Your Guide to Online Privacy

Should you tape over your webcam? Is it OK to use your computer’s operating system, or do you have to run Tails? And what the hell is Tails? Unless you’re a high-profile target—and you’re probably not—you can take some simple steps to block hackers. Etc. asked one of Bloomberg’s cybersecurity reporters to outline your options below on a scale from “sane” to, with apologies to the former National Security Agency contractor, “Snowden,” who recently and perhaps understandably took tweezers to his phone.

Try Two-Factor Authentication: “Factor” No. 1 is your normal password. No. 2 is a one-time code that’s texted to you. All major internet-based services—e.g.,Google (google.com/landing/2step), Twitter (support.twitter.com), and Facebook (facebook.com/help)—offer this feature. It’s the most basic step you can take to protect yourself.

The importance of two-factor authentication got Silicon Valley’s attention when journalist Mat Honan, who didn’t use the technology, was hacked in 2012 and wrote about the experience. Honan’s attackers posted racist and homophobic messages from his Twitter account, took over his Gmail, and commandeered his iCloud account, deleting everything from his Apple devices.