8 Best and Practical Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online
If you believe that your personal information is really personal, then it will come as a shock to you to know exactly how much of it ends up online. Even if you do a simple search with your name, you will find out that there are a lot of personal details out there, such as your parents and family names, social media profiles, address, and telephone number. Yes, this data has ended up on social networks and directories through different websites you visit, and the fact is that this kind of data accumulation is perfectly legitimate.
Advertisers and marketers are eager to get their hands on such data to be able to target their market, but there is also a downside to it; when so much of your personal information is public, you automatically become vulnerable to identity theft, phishing and other internet scams that have become quite common. Does this mean that you cannot surf the internet safely? No, of course not. There are some simple tips you can follow for protecting your privacy online and they are listed here:
1. Use passwords for everything
You may not believe that it is necessary to password-protect your laptop or home computer, but it is crucial that you protect all your digital devices through passwords. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, or any other gadget that you use and have personal data on. If you leave anything unprotected and it gets stolen, your personal information could fall into the wrong hands. You should do the same for online accounts and choose strong passwords. People often use predictable passwords because they are easier to remember, but this is dangerous. Use a passwords manager for keeping track of your passwords and choose complicated ones.
2. Protect your computer from viruses
Digital security and digital privacy are closely connected. If your computer is infected with malware or a virus, hackers will be able to gain access and steal your personal information. In fact, they are also in the position of locking some of your files and may demand a ransom to release them back to you. The best way to avoid such situations is to install antivirus programs on your digital devices and keep the software updated to ensure all security holes are closed. You can turn on the option for automatic updates and this will keep your computer and other devices safe from viruses and malware.
3. Secure your browsing habits
4. Change search engines
A number of search engines keep track of your searches in order to target ads according to your tastes and preferences. This means that someone is always watching over your shoulder when you do an online search and your history will be used to deliver ads. If you don’t want that to happen, you can opt for secure search engines that leave you be.
5. Don’t be too open on social media
Social media has been designed to bring you closer to your friends and family, but the problem is that sometimes the whole world can see what you are sharing with them. If you post enough information on social media, it can actually be used to track you and take advantage of it in some way. Therefore, it is essential that you lock down your accounts, which means adjusting your privacy settings. Make sure that your information is only visible to people you know and even then, you should be choosy about what you share because friends of your friends might be able to view your information.
6. Be wary of scams
You should always be on your guard and watch out for emails, phone calls and websites that try to get you to give out your personal information. You have to be careful because scammers have gotten quite skilled at mimicking legitimate businesses. They often present you with dire consequences of not sharing the information in order to get you to share. However, you shouldn’t be fooled by these tactics and don’t give out any personal information such as your bank account details or social security number online.
7. Use secure Wi-Fi connections
Using free Wi-Fi services at the mall or coffee shop is undeniably tempting, but it is a major risk and can compromise your personal information. You don’t know who is watching the internet traffic and the public Wi-Fi can be used for stealing sensitive information about you. If you do want to use such connections, it is best to use a VPN so all the data you send will be encrypted. You can easily find reliable VPN services that can keep your identity safe.
8. Be careful with your downloads
When you are downloading something on your devices, you should only use trustworthy and verified sources. Lots of websites have unreliable files that may have some sort of malware or virus embedded in them and may give it access to your information when you download the file. You should make sure that you only install something that you can get from a reliable source. Sometimes, even legitimate looking software and files can be just scams.
With these tips, you can ensure complete internet protection and maintain your privacy.