How to Protect Privacy Online?
Digital annoyance is something that you don’t want to tolerate especially if you wish to surf the internet in peace. With most of the businesses jumping into the online world, the competition continues to get tight leading to some of the 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 privacy is vulnerable to theft and misuse. Even if you are not a well-known public figure, keeping your privacy safe should be of 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 is vital to protect your privacy. The sad truth is that the internet is abuzz with cybercriminal looking to exploit your online activities. In this modern era, the internet is packed with vital information concerning credit cards, identity details, physical address, work schedules, etc. Once your privacy has been exploited, not only do you risk financial losses but also the possibility of ruined credit ratings and professional career.
With that said, this guide is designed to help you alleviate online fraud and cybercrime attacks by keeping your privacy safe while browsing the internet. By following these few, basic tips below, you can take control over your online data.
Share Limited Personal Information
One of the best ways to keep your data safe is not to overshare it. 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 and use it incriminating activities. For instance, if a cybercriminal can know 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 security questions.
The sad truth is that 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.
Use Incognito or Private Mode
Surf the internet in private mode to stop your browser from saving your history or cookies. Most of the reputable web browsers offer this feature. For instance, in Google Chrome, it’s called Incognito and Firefox calls it Private Browsing/Private Window while Internet Explorer’s and Microsoft Edge’s own is known as InPrivate Browsing/InPrivate window. Regardless of the browser that you are on, finding this feature shouldn’t be difficult.
However, despite using the private mode of your preferred browser, ISPs can still monitor and track your browsing activities. If you are using a work computer, then, your employer, just like the ISP will know what you were doing. Also, web pages that you visit on private mode can track you. Thus, despite the private mode of your browser presenting security to a certain extent, it’s far from being the only shield you can rely on.
Utilize Various Search Engines
You can use trusted anonymous search engines to promote your privacy online. These types of engines do not collect or track your activities online. Moreover, they can block trackers as well as cookies with the intent to collect data.
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. It makes it difficult for cybercriminals to crack down your security walls to breach your internet privacy. Thus, to obtain one, you can checkout reputable review websites such as VPNWatch to select a trusted VPN.
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 this may open cracks in your system’s security. Stay vigilant and always verify that a link is from a trusted source before clicking on it. This method is called phishing and commonly used by internet criminals by sending links as if they contain valuable information. By falling for this trick, you may be redirected to a cloned site that looks like a real financial site where you will be asked to fill in personal and financial details.
Install a Powerful Antivirus Tool
Not only should you install an anti-virus tool on your PC but you should do so on all your devices. With an antivirus tool, you can prevent intruders from installing unwanted malicious programs in your system that they can use to track your activities or obtain personal data. To strengthen your security further, you can use your antivirus tool in conjunction with a trusted anti-malware tool.
Ignore About Me Field
These are the fields targeted by identity thieves to create a strong profile. The truth is that you are 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 various tools on your system may also 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 are addicted to. These are factors which cybercriminals identify as your weakness. 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