7 steps to protecting online privacy
Digital annoyance (the annoyance factor) is something we don’t put up with, especially when we’re just trying to surf the web in peace. With most businesses jumping into the online world, the competition continues to get tight, leading to some businesses (if not all), settling for shady methods to market their products and services to the online market. These dubious techniques include breaches of data and tracking user activity online. To make matters worse, keeping your private information unprotected online is as good as inviting vultures to your home. Unprotected data is vulnerable to theft and misuse. Even if you are not a well-known public figure, keeping your privacy should be of great importance as it can help protect your reputation.
The internet is now the centre of our lives as it touches many parts of our daily activities. With almost everything connected to the internet, it’s vital to protect your privacy. The sad truth is that the internet is abuzz with cybercriminals looking to exploit your online activities. In this modern era, the internet is packed with vital information concerning credit cards, identity details, physical addresses, work schedules, and more. Once your privacy has been exploited, not only do you risk financial losses but also the possibility of ruined credit ratings and even your professional career.
With that said, this guide is designed to help you alleviate online fraud and cyberattacks by keeping your privacy safe while browsing the internet. By following these few, basic tips below, you can take control over your cybersecurity.
1. Share Limited Personal Information
One of the best ways to keep your data safe is to not overshare. Posting a lot of information concerning your personal life on your social media accounts can be a great way of giving cybercriminals leeway to obtain vital information about you. This practice can easily let cybercriminals gain access to your financial data or even steal your identity to use for incriminating activities. For instance, if a cybercriminal knows your mother’s maiden name through your social media account activity, then, they can easily bypass some of your accounts that have this information as a security question.
The sad truth is that the majority of social media account holders don’t take this advice. In their 2018 report, ITRC indicated that over 50% of participants posted information that is identifying in their accounts. Furthermore, the study continued to indicate that 48% of the respondents posted personal information about their children and over 30% gave away their location with over 40% disclosing data about their travel plans.
2. Use Incognito or Private Mode
Surf the internet in private mode to stop your browser from saving your history or cookies. Most reputable web browsers offer this feature. For instance, in Google Chrome it’s called Incognito; in Firefox, Private Browsing; and in Internet Explorer (Microsoft Edge) it’s called InPrivate Browsing. Regardless of the browser you’re using, finding this feature shouldn’t be difficult.
However, despite using private mode on your preferred browser, ISPs can still monitor and
track your browsing activities. If you’re using a work computer, then, your employer, just like the ISP, will know what you’ve been up to. Also, web pages that you visit in private mode can track you. Thus, despite the private mode of your browser being secure to a certain extent, it’s far from being the only shield you can rely on.
3. Utilize Various Search Engines
You can use trusted anonymous search engines to ensure your privacy online. These types of engines don’t collect or track your activities online. Moreover, they can block trackers as well as cookies with the intent to collect data.
4. Use a VPN Service
Using a trusted VPN is one way to mask your activities online. Combined with other privacy features such as browsing in private mode, you can achieve a high level of privacy. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) gives you privacy by connecting you to the internet using a different IP address. A VPN is useful when connecting to the internet using an untrusted Wi-Fi connection. They make it difficult for cybercriminals to crack your security walls and breach your internet privacy. To obtain a VPN, you can check out reputable review websites such as VPNWatch to select a trusted one.
5. Be Skeptical About What You Click
Not all links that you come across are meant to be clicked. You mustn’t be quick to click on any link as it may open up cracks in your system’s security. Stay vigilant and always verify that a link is from a trusted source before clicking on it. This is called phishing and it’s commonly used by internet criminals that send links that look important or valuable in the hopes that you click. By falling for this trick, you may be redirected to a cloned site that looks like a real financial site. Once there, you’ll fill in personal and financial details as if everything were normal.
6. Install a Powerful Antivirus Tool
Not only should you install an antivirus tool on your PC, but you should do so on all
devices. With an antivirus tool, you can prevent intruders from installing malicious programs in your system that they can then use to track your activities or obtain personal data. To strengthen your security further, you can use your antivirus tool in conjunction with trusted anti-malware software.
7. Ignore the “About Me” Field
These are the fields targeted by identity thieves to create a strong profile. The truth is that you’re not obligated to fill them. You don’t have to disclose your place of birth or birth date as it can make you an easy target. If, for some reason, you find it necessary to share this information, then at least try to monitor who can view your details by changing the privacy settings.
Change your Browsing Behavior
Using the various tools on your system may not be enough to protect you without implementing drastic changes to your browsing behaviour. In most cases, what gives away our privacy are certain practices that we can’t or won’t give up. These are factors that cybercriminals identify as weaknesses. Therefore, if you want to keep your online privacy safe, you should at least practice the following:
- Keep all of your device apps updated.
- Avoid unsecured sites by using HTTPS links.
- Avoid being tracked by turning off your location.
- Keep your social media accounts private.
- Always log out of your accounts and clear your browsing history after using a shared device.
- Change your passwords periodically and avoid using phrases that can be easily guessed when creating a password.