Internet privacy is a hot topic. Growing public awareness of how sites like Google and Facebook use your information has gone hand in hand with high-profile privacy scandals. Similarly, more people know about the threat posed by phishing and malware. The result is a loss of trust in the Internet. Consumers want to proactively protect their online privacy and security, rather than depend on the big sites to use their information responsibly. Start-ups are responding to this demand. Here are the top three start-ups helping consumers look out for their online health. Web users are particularly concerned about their browsing habits being recorded by websites. Cocoon plays on this fear – its slogan is “Your right to privacy exists in Cocoon.” It’s a genius Firefox add-on to automatically make your internet activity anonymous. Everything you do on the web is routed through an encryption tunnel so you’re untraceable. Sites like Facebook can’t track your browsing habits and sell that information to advertisers. Cocoon also keeps your inbox free of spam with the Mailslots tool, which allows you to create disposal email addresses if you have to give it to a site. It protects against viruses and secures browsing on public wifi. Best of all, it’s reportedly easy to use. Most people know how to protect their computers – use a login password, get a firewall and don’t give your bank details to stricken Nigerians. Far fewer people know how vulnerable their smartphones are. A smartphone functions as an address book, calendar and wallet yet a recent report showed that an astonishing 82% of smartphone users had no security software installed on their phone. This despite the growing sophistication of mobile internet fraud, which can include accessing credit card details and adding charges to a phone bill. Android technology is particularly susceptible because it’s open source. That’s where Lookout comes in. It’s a powerful piece of software, protecting phones against all kinds of ill. Users often download malware in the form of a utility app, like a battery saver or Google update. Lookout scans everything you download for malware. The app also checks what you already have on your phone – it even detected the controversial and hidden Carrier IQ software. If your phone is lost or stolen you won’t lose your data because Lookout automatically backs it up. You can lock it remotely so the thief can’t use it, or you can find it using GPS tracking. We see how that might be useful in the case of a lost phone, but if it’s stolen we’re not sure that we’d like to face down the perpetrator! We’re also impressed by the Mobile Threat Network which continually identifies and blocks new malware threats. Highly recommended. On a lighter note, the greatest threat to your internet privacy may come from those closest to you. We’re talking about the friends who take compromising pictures during a night out and post them on Facebook before you groggily awake. The consequences can be dire, including social ridicule and degradation of dignity. We even read that in America, social media is often presented in divorce courts as evidence of cheating. We’re pleased to report that South American beer brand Cerveza Norte is frothing to the rescue. They’ve developed a high-tech ice bucket called the Photoblocker, for clubbers to cool their beer in. The Photoblocker detects when photos are being taken and emits a powerful flash in response, so all photos are flooded in white light. A minute-long video ad showcases the awesome power of this device – watch here. Once again, alcohol is the cause and the solution to life’s problems. If you’re looking to invest in innovative start-ups just like these then you’re in the right place. Submit an investment brief to the Exchange today.
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