As how people use the internet evolves, it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect your online privacy. Everyone has different amounts of information they are willing to share. However, you should at least take precautions to protect your personal information.
Luckily, as the invasions to online privacy increase, so do solutions to counter these problems. Keep reading to learn how you can protect your online privacy like a pro.
Limit Information on Social Media
Nearly everyone who uses the internet on a regular basis has at least one social media account. While social media is great for staying in touch and sharing your activities, it can also be an easy way to accidentally provide access to privacy invasions.
To enhance your privacy online, choose to either limit the information that you share on social media or make your information private. You can control exactly what people can see about you without being your friend or gaining permission to follow you on most social media platforms, so take advantage of this feature.
Only Browse with HTTPS
In recent years, most websites have switched from HTTP to HTTPS, with the latter adding an added layer of security via SSL. You should always use web connections with SSL to protect your privacy and take advantage of this updated security. Unfortunately, some websites still do not use HTTPS. To avoid issues, you can use a browser extension that will force SSL connections to keep your web traffic secure.
Block Third-Party Cookies
Cookies are the little trails of data that websites accumulate as you browse, letting them remember you. Cookies can make your life easier, such as by remembering your login information. However, they are also commonly used by third parties and advertisers to gather information about you and target ads.
If you are concerned about your privacy online, then go into your browser’s settings and turn off third-party cookies. This is a choice in every major browser. Just remember that it will not be the only solution you need. You will have to use this strategy with others, and there may still be some cookies about you stored.
Block Location Data
Many websites also gather data about your location. They do this to offer you more customization in services and targeted advertisements. Certain websites, such as maps and food delivery pages, may have a legitimate need for this information. However, most websites do not actually need your location data.
You should be able to turn off your location data within the settings of your browser. You may also be able to either whitelist certain websites that you will let access your location or blacklist certain ones that you do not want to access this information. At the least, set up your browser so websites must ask for your location data instead of automatically sharing it.
Take Care with Your SSN and Other Sensitive Information
Unfortunately, we have gotten used to sharing information to download an application or make an account on a website. To protect your online privacy like a pro, take extra care when giving out sensitive information, such as your social security number. Even giving out the last four digits of your number can let a smart hacker guess the full SSN based on where you likely were when your parents applied for the number and when you applied.
Similarly, you should be cautious about giving out any other sensitive information, such as your bank account number or credit/debit card number, especially with the expiration date and security code. Only enter this information on reputable websites that have a valid reason for needing the information. You should also be cautious about giving out information that is typically used for security questions on bank accounts, such as your mother’s maiden name and your first pet.
Consider a VPN
If you want to protect your privacy to the highest level, then you definitely want to use a virtual private network. Many VPN solutions are available with varying price points. By using a VPN, your activities will be disguised, including your actual IP address. As a bonus, VPNs can help you get around censorship or give you the ability to access websites or videos that are unavailable in your country.
Use Password Protection on Everything
It is a common misconception that you do not need to password protect everything, particularly your computer if you only use it at home. However, every device that you use and enter information into should be password protected. This includes your smartphone, laptop, desktop, tablets, and anything else that has personal data. If you do not password protect the device and it gets stolen, your privacy will be compromised.
Select Strong Passwords, and Do Not Repeat Them
When it comes time to choose a password, whether for a device or an online account, make sure it is secure. Also, try not to repeat passwords between websites. If you repeat passwords, a hacker could gain access to just one of your accounts and then use the same password to enter other accounts. If you do not want to remember dozens of passwords, use a secure password manager to do so for you; just make sure to choose one with a strong reputation. Add another layer of security by opting for two-factor authentication when available.
Speaking of passwords, you should also make it a point to change any default passwords for things connected to your home network, especially your router. Hackers know where to find lists of this default information online.
Use an Antivirus Program
To round out your privacy protection, keep your computer free from viruses and other malware by using a strong antivirus program. Many free versions are available, but it can be worth it to spend a little money for extra protection.