Security and Privacy Explained¶
Digital security and privacy is a fundamental human right. Unfortuantely, over the last few years, the various internet service providers you use every day have amassed a downright scary amount of personal information about you. It is even said that tech giants know more about you than you do yourself.
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To guarantee the security of your personal information and your privacy, Particl adopts a vastly different approach than other internet service providers—it gives you full ownership over your own data.
Instead of forcing you to agree to endless and incomprehensible terms and conditions aimed at collecting your personal information, Particl simply doesn’t generate any identifiable data about you at all.
If no data exists in the first place, then it can’t be collected by anyone. And if it can’t be collected, then it can’t be leaked or misused. Very simply, Particl doesn’t ask for your trust; it just never knows anything about you ever.
This groundbreaking level of online privacy is made possible thanks to Particl’s distributed nature and the vast array of security protocols implemented on its network.
No Central Database¶
All issues related to online data have something in common—personal information was stored and obtained from some company’s database either willingly (data sharing policies) or unwillingly (data breaches). But that is simply impossible on Particl because it isn’t built like your typical online marketplace.
It is an entirely autonomous platform that runs on peer-to-peer (P2P) and blockchain technologies. It’s not a company, it’s not running on servers, it doesn’t have any central database, and it doesn’t require any middleman such as a payment processor to function.
In other words, none of your personal information is ever stored on any database. As a result, there is not a single party, other than buyers and sellers you’re doing business with, that can know anything about you and use that information for any reason.
To use online marketplaces, you generally need accounts. That’s because marketplaces want to know you as much as possible so they can personalize your experience on their platform, get more money out of you, and then monetize your data externally.
But having an account still has its upsides. It allows the marketplace to remember useful information such as your order history, shipping addresses, payment details, market preferences, and more. It can make your life much easier.
This is why Particl stores your account information locally on your computer and never shares any of its data with anyone else. In addition, any personal information it contains is encrypted via military-grade encryption so that no one else but you can access it.
History and Shopping Habits¶
Just like your account information, traditional marketplaces track your browsing history and shopping habits to know as much as they can about you. They even openly share it with partners who, in turn, share their users’ information back.
Marketplaces and other online services typically use that kind of data to find out what you like, what product they think you would buy, how to optimize their services, etc.
It certainly can be useful, but it isn’t all fine and dandy. The obsession marketplaces have with your browsing history and shopping habits not only constantly leads to data breaches, but also intimate and straight-up uncomfortable situations. Remember, online service providers tend to know more about you and the ones you love than you do yourself.
Particl hands you back your online privacy by making it impossible for anyone in the world to know your browsing history and shopping habits because no identifiable data is being generated about you at all.
Particl isn’t built on typical internet and financial technologies. It’s instead built on blockchain technology and requires payments to be made with cryptocurrencies. And while they enable cheap and near-instant payments on a global scale, they do poorly from an online privacy perspective.
In fact, public blockchains permanently store all the information of the transactions that happen on their network in a public ledger. It lets anyone in the world easily access and collect the information of any transaction ever. There’s a very strong argument to be made whether they are just as bad as private databases, or even worse.
That’s not the case with Particl. Instead of using a public blockchain, it uses a private blockchain that lets you keep your data confidential and anonymous.
When using the marketplace, none of your information is publicly displayed. Sure, it still ends up on the blockchain, but what others see when looking at it can only be described as gibberish.
It’s still possible to make public transactions on Particl, but not when using the marketplace. To learn more about the different types of balances and transactions on Particl, head over to the Currency (PART) Explained in-depth guide.
Another type of data that can be pretty damaging when it gets stolen is your network identity (IP address). Your IP address is your own unique internet identity which is shared across all your internet-connected devices. If enough data can be linked to your IP address, your identity is revealed, and it becomes possible to track all of your online activity.
Like any type of data, it can make your online experience more convenient. But it can also make your life hell if it ends up in the wrong hands.
On Particl, no one can associate an IP address to any other Particl-related data. And while your IP address is broadcast to other peers on the network, it doesn’t reveal anything meaningful about you. The only thing it really tells is that someone in the world owns this IP address and uses Particl.
If you want to take your online privacy a step further, you can route your connection through the Tor network (installation guide Install Tor (Network Privacy)), a networking protocol used to spoof internet connections. This will broadcast a fake IP address to the network and keep your real one confidential.
Achieve Maximum Privacy¶
While Particl provides you, by default, with an unmatched level of data security and online privacy, there are still some tricks you can do to improve your privacy even more.
Make private transactions¶
All payments made on the marketplace are private by default and cannot be made using public balances.
When you’re sending a PART transaction to someone else, you can choose its level of privacy. By default, Particl uses Public transactions, which means they are fully transparent and publicly auditable.
To improve your privacy, try sending Anon transactions instead. Anon transactions hide the amounts being transacted as well as the identity of both participants. This keeps your personal information and that of the people you’re transacting with entirely confidential.
Another easy way to improve your online privacy when using Particl is to route the Particl Desktop client through the Tor network, a networking protocol used to spoof internet connections. Using Tor protects your online identity by making hiding your IP address from the rest of the network.
Use PART addresses only once¶
Every time you receive a payment on a Particl address, your Particl Desktop client will automatically generate a new address for you.
When using any cryptocurrency, it’s widely recommended not to re-use the same address over and over. Ideally, cryptocurrency addresses should only be used once, when possible, and a new address should be generated every time you need to receive a payment.
The reason behind this is pretty simple; when someone gets to know an address of yours, they can look it up on a blockchain explorer and track all the transactions you’ve ever sent or received from that address. Nobody wants that!
When you generate a new address, there is no previous transaction that can be analyzed by anyone. This keeps your personal information private and ensures no prying eye can dig into your financial records.
Use multiple wallets¶
You can even go a step further and generate entirely independent wallets instead of just creating new addresses. In fact, even when creating new addresses, it’s still possible to match “transaction outputs” together and associate clusters of transactions with you.
To understand why, imagine you receive two payments on the same wallet but using two different addresses. The first payment, worth $100, is received with Address A. The second payment, worth $50, is received with Address B. That gives you $150 in total stored in two different addresses. In this example, both Address A and Address B are brand new addresses that have never received payments before.
Now let’s say you want to make a payment of $125 to someone you don’t know. None of your two addresses contain enough coins to complete the transaction on their own. To make the payment, the blockchain will automatically take a few coins from Address A and a few coins from Address B and combine them together so that it can send $125 worth of PART out of your wallet.
When that happens, the two addresses are part of the same transaction and are effectively linked together. From that point onward, anyone looking at Address A would be able to tell that it is linked with Address B.
To protect from this, you can create multiple wallets right from Particl Desktop, each with its own purpose. Because each wallet is independent, none of the addresses can be used together and linked. Each wallet can also be encrypted independently with different passwords, providing more security to your funds.
This function dramatically improves your online privacy by taking the human mistake factor out of the equation and making it impossible to unwillingly “taint” transactions with addresses you’d rather keep private.
Use multiple user profiles¶
When you list products and services on Particl, they are associated with a Particl address of yours. This is what is referred to as your seller profile. When listing multiple items, they all get published under the same seller profile and, for this reason, can all be linked to the same vendor. Of course, this doesn’t tell anyone anything about you, but it lets people know that the same unknown person is selling some items on the marketplace.
While this is good for brand recognition and building yourself a reputation, this may not always be what you want. When that’s the case, you can create an infinite number of seller profiles and use them to publish listings.
To do so, simply create a new market or storefront, pick what seller profile you want to use to “generate” the market, and start listing products.
Other sources for useful or more in-depth information:
Particl Wiki - Privacy & Security tutorials