How To Protect Your Privacy Online
If a large company with little security around its data experiences a breach that exposes your personal information, passwords, or profile pictures, you can't do much about it. However, that doesn't mean you're helpless when protecting yourself. Make sure to focus on strengthening security and privacy in your own home. After all, the last thing you want is for ransomware To delete the novel you've been writing or have all your money stolen via a banking Trojan horse virus. The good news is there are ways to defend against these more common issues right at home.
Whether you're online or not, privacy is critical for your safety and security. However, given that personal data, login credentials, and even identity might be stolen when hackers gain access to your personal information, online privacy is particularly important. Because of this, many people who enter the internet today are using it in different ways for personal and commercial purposes. Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse. That raises a significant issue: how can you safeguard your internet privacy?
But before we look into the hows, let's first look at the whats.
What is Online Privacy?
You're undoubtedly hearing a lot more about internet privacy these days, and it's not just in the news. Governments and tech giants are increasingly concerned with online privacy, which they frequently fight over what it implies.
But what exactly does it imply? To put it another way, online privacy is all about safeguarding your right to keep private information private.
While internet privacy and internet security are two distinct subjects, they are related. Privacy is generally concerned with legal data gathering (like what you share on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media platforms). In contrast, cybersecurity concerns unlawful data gathering (like preventing your accounts from being hacked).
While there is some difference, there is a lot of overlap. Security improves privacy, and improved privacy helps to enhance security. You may improve both by performing a few simple actions.
Threats to Our Online Privacy
As we increasingly move our lives online, we leave behind a digital footprint that can be traced back to us. This digital footprint can include everything from the websites we visit and the things we search for, to the people we interact with and the places we check in to. While this information can be useful in many ways, it also poses a serious threat to our online privacy. There are a number of ways that our online privacy can be threatened, including through:
This is when someone gains unauthorized access to our devices or accounts in order to steal our information or commit other crimes.
This is when we receive fraudulent emails or messages that trick us into giving away our personal information, such as our passwords or credit card details.
This software is installed on our devices without our knowledge and gathers information about us without our consent.
When someone steals our personal information to commit fraud or other crimes using our identity. As we can see, there are a number of ways that our online privacy can be threatened. We need to be aware of these threats and take steps to protect our information to protect ourselves.
What You Should Know About Your Online Privacy Rights
After you give a company permission to share your data with third parties, you generally lose control of where your personal information goes.
The process involves legal terms that many people avoid because they are complicated. We need laws to protect your right to online privacy.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) safeguards your data if you live in the European Union and allows for more leeway when it comes to managing your privacy. Meanwhile, Californian residents are granted rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This act permits consumers to request explanations from companies regarding how they collect and sell private information. In addition, it gives Californians the right to request that their data be completely removed.
Online privacy is your fundamental right and involves a couple of practices that the GDPR and CCPA protect. So that you can keep your internet usage private, you need to be able to:
- Find out what personal data an organization has on you.
- Get access to all of the organization's data about you.
- Request for the data to be removed from the organization's systems permanently.
- Be aware of how third-party companies use and manage your personal data.
- Protect your data by denying its sale.
- Be free to exercise your right to online privacy without any repercussions.
How To Protect Yourself Online?
With all of the recent data breaches, protecting your personal information is more important than ever. Adopting habits that make your devices, online identity, and activities more secure is not difficult. In fact, many of our tips regarding how to be safer online are based on common sense. Following the advice below about being more secure in your digital life will help protect yourself from potential threats. Here are a few tips to help you keep your data safe and out of the hands of criminals.
Make Strong And Unique Passwords for Each Account
Your password is your first line of defence against a cybercriminal, so make it impenetrable. By combining lower and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols into a unique code that you change frequently, you'll be well on your way to creating an unbreakable password. And if keeping track of multiple passwords sounds daunting to you, don't worry—plenty of helpful password manager tools are out there.
Don’t Be A Gusher on Social Media
We've all had that acquaintance who posts too much of their personal life on social media, which can be annoying. Not to mention that your own information might be put at risk due to this. To avoid exposing your private data, check your privacy settings regularly so you know who is reading your postings. And when making any online postings, keep in mind to be cautious about revealing where you live, where you're from, or what your birthday is.
Be Vigilant When Using Free Wi-Fi
Although it may seem convenient, resist the urge to shop on public Wi-Fi. These networks generally have little security, so other people using the same network could access your activity--including your credit card information. For online shopping, wait until you're at home or logged into a secure network.
Be on The Lookout for Links And Attachments in Emails
Many phishing scams originate from cybercriminals attempting to masquerade as legitimate sources, like a bank or utility company. These hackers frequently make simple spelling errors in their emails or use a different email address than the one typically associated with the supposed sender. If you see either of these red flags, it's likely that the email is spam.
Assess Whether The Site Has A Valid SSL Certificate
Use End-To-End Encrypted Messaging Apps
However, many messaging services employ encryption only in transit and not end-to-end. In many cases, messages are decrypted on the provider's side and kept on its servers. What if a hacker compromises the provider's servers? You need not take that chance; encrypt your communications using end-to-end encryption to ensure that even the messaging service provider cannot access them.
Use a messaging app that has end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp. Keep in mind that Facebook Messenger, Google Allo and Telegram do not come with this type of encryption enabled. To use it, you'll need to start a secret chat.
Go Incognito for Safe Browsing
If you want to keep your web activity private, make sure to do your browsing in private mode. That way, your computer won't save any history or cookies from your session. Today's web browsers provide their own versions of this type of privacy protection. Incognito Mode is the name given to Chrome's version. Firefox's setting is named Private Browsing, whereas Internet Explorer's privacy feature is called InPrivate Browsing. When you use these modes while searching, others will be unable to follow your surfing activities from your computer.
Even though you may be in private mode, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see what websites you visit. Your employer may also be able to track your internet activity if you search on a business computer. The websites that you visit may also keep tabs on you.
What's The Best Way To Keep Your Devices Safe?
Be Sure to Use A Password That Is Difficult for Others to Guess
With our dependence on digital devices, they now hold a wealth of sensitive information. Password-protect your phone, tablet, and laptop at the very least to keep prying eyes from accessing important data if these items are lost or stolen. Use your device with additional security features like fingerprint scanners or facial recognition software for added protection.
Use Antivirus Tools to Protect Your Devices
Antivirus programs like Microsoft Defender, MacKeeper Antivirus, Norton and Bitdefender can help protect your computer against malicious software. Not only do these programs prevent harmful software from being installed, but they also eliminate any viruses that have already infected your computer.
Make Sure Your Software Is Up-To-Date by Installing The Latest Updates
Software updates aren't a magic bullet, but they are one of the most important tools in your arsenal against cyber criminals. Every day, trusted software can have bugs and vulnerabilities that leave it vulnerable to attackers. To protect your computer, keep your operating system (OS) and browser up-to-date by installing new updates as soon as they're available. Developers release upgrades periodically to address security vulnerabilities in even well-known applications.
Use Encrypted Backups So That Your Data Is Secure
Anytime you back up data to a computer or cloud storage, make sure to encrypt it. This way, if anyone were ever to get access to your backup files without permission, they wouldn't be able to open them. Two examples of encryption are Google Drive and iCloud.
Only back up essential data to password-protected and encrypted hard drives or memory cards. Unsecured versions of these devices are easy to lose or steal; if they're not encrypted, anyone can connect them to a computer and see all your stored information.
Activate The Option for Remote Device Wiping
Have you lost your phone again? Many phones have a "remote wipe" feature that will let you delete all of your data from the internet if you think it's gone for good. This is an especially great idea for anyone with sensitive information on their device. In the unfortunate scenario that you lose one of your devices and have no way of recovering it, don't fret! You can easily log in to your online account and clear all data. Even if someone has access to your lost device, they won't be able to see anything important!
Consider Using An Ad Blocker
Are you trying to find an ad blocker? Ad blockers are software programs that keep ads from appearing on your browser. They do this by comparing the content against the program's or user's specific rules. Fortunately, a wide range of ad blockers is available online. To compare features and reviews in order to decide which one is best for you, search for "ad blocker" followed by the name of your web browser (i.e., "AdBlock Plus Chrome").
Ad blockers don't always prevent all advertising. This is due to the fact that certain ad blockers display ads from advertisers that meet specific criteria established by the firm. Ad blockers do not identify or block viruses or malware, either.
In addition to those steps, here are a few things you can do right away:
- Reset your social media privacy settings periodically, especially after companies update their policies.
- Protect your computer by installing antivirus software and updates for your programs as soon as you receive them. Also, be sure to turn off your computer when you're not using it. Remember, it's not only about keeping yourself safe—you also don't want to infect others unintentionally.
- Although we've all been advised to frequently change our passwords and make them difficult to guess, how many of us have followed these instructions? If you want to create a tough password that you will still be able to remember, try using a phrase.
- If you use the same password for every site, hackers only need to compromise one account to access all of them. Using different passwords for different sites can minimize the damage if one is breached.
- Don't let scammers trick you into giving them your information. If an email looks suspicious, even if it's from a known source, don't open it. And don't forward it to anyone else. The best way to check if an email is legitimate is to call the person or company mentioned in the message. Remember: people always try to cheat others out of their money.
- In an email, avoid including any crucial details (such as your credit card number or Social Security number).
- Use current technologies that do not collect and share or sell data about their users to obtain as much privacy as you desire. There are search engines, email providers, and other companies now offering this kind of service—many of them for free.
With the emergence of new technology and trends, securing your data and identity online has become more intricate. Since there are always new dangers, it's best to use good judgement as a starting point for most users. Additionally, having security measures set up for your own devices can't hurt either.
With recent technological advances, we now have some great tools to protect our privacy that didn't exist before. For example, VPNs allow us to browse the internet anonymously and encrypt our messages so that only the intended recipient can read them. Additionally, private browsing mode prevents your browser from saving your history or cookies, and antivirus software protect us from malicious websites and files. Using these tools, you can quickly and easily improve your online privacy protection.
There are many ways to browse the internet anonymously and protect yourself from trackers and hackers, including using a password manager, installing antivirus software, or finding a no-log VPN.
If you don't feel comfortable with cybersecurity tools, you can do a few simple things to enhance your online privacy.
Regardless of the strategy, you choose to safeguard your internet privacy, keep in mind that not only is it achievable, but it's also your right. You have the same right to sit on your sofa without revealing your location and a smart surveillance camera broadcasting photos to prove it.
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