Your Privacy And You – 7 Tips to Protect Your Online Privacy
Posted by Robert on 03 Mar, 2022
Are you sometimes worried about your private information being leaked or misused on the internet? You're not alone. The increase in cybercrime, including online theft, is alarming and can't be ignored.
According to GIACT's news report for 2020, close to 47 per cent of Americans complained of financial identity theft, with around 4.8 million complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the same year.
This is to say that online privacy is an important issue you should tackle affront. This article discusses steps you can take to boost your online privacy.
1. Be careful of what you share on social media
You can do many things on social media, but sharing too much of your personal information on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the likes is not the best way to go. The popularity of these social networking apps makes it easy for cyber fraudsters lurking around to hijack important information from unsuspecting users.
To protect yourself, limit sharing personal information about yourself. Even the "About Me" field on your social profile can reveal too much information about who and what you are.
Additionally, you should explore various privacy settings on each social account you own. For example, you may want to set your account in private mode instead of public mode, controlling who can view your profile or posts.
2. Watch out of phishing (scam) links
Phishing remains one of the oldest and most common ways hackers deploy to compromise your online privacy. A phishing attack usually contains a fraudulent link that often appears to be from a trustworthy source.
Often, hackers send emails that contain phishing links, or they may use other forms of communication to defraud an individual. Phishers often take advantage of people's emotions such as curiosity, greed, urgency, and fear to compel them to click on the link. An example is the COVID-19 phishing scam campaign sent to many people via email or text messages.
To prevent yourself from phishing attacks, never share personal information in response to an unsolicited request, even when they appear genuine. Don't click on links from unknown sources if you receive emails or pop-up windows when online. In addition, keep your browser, anti-spam, etc., updated.
3. Always use secure passwords
Your password is your key to locking and unlocking your accounts online. You don't want it to fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, you should always use strong and secure passwords. A secure password is unique and cannot be easily guessed by anyone.
Data security experts suggest that it is safer to create a long password with a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you set up 2FA Authentication wherever possible. The idea behind 2FA Authentication is that it offers an extra layer of protection for your account.
4. Don't install strange apps or software on your device
Seemingly harmless apps installed on your phone could spy on your data and sell it to third parties. Granted, some apps would require your permission to access personal information, yet you want to be sure it's a trusted app.
For example, a weather app may require permission to know your location to function accurately. Even with your consent, mobile apps that seem helpful could collect an excessive and unusual amount of information from their users. Unless you really need them, review permissions and block unnecessary location tracking apps on your device.
Additionally, do not download/install unknown software or files on your computer. Otherwise, you risk harbouring computer viruses and spyware, capable of opening a "back door" to access your computer without your knowledge.
The bottom line is, make sure you only download apps, files, or software from reliable sources.
5. Use end-to-end encrypted apps for messaging
There are many messaging apps out there, but choosing the ones that use end-to-end encryption ensures that your chats are only seen by the recipient and not monitored by another person.
Messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp use encryption protocols to secure messages. iMessage for iPhone users is encrypted when used on iPhone, but not if you're sending messages to an Android user. Signal, however, provides encryption for both Android and iPhone users.
6. Browse on Incognito/private mode
The advantage of using private or incognito mode is that it prevents your browsing history and cookies from being stored. Cookies are small text files of data that collect and store information on the websites you have visited. Some of the information may include login details and other browsing activities. These details are used to create customized web pages and ads based on your online preferences.
By switching on incognito mode, cookies and site activities are blocked and deleted from the record. Although incognito mode provides some advantages in terms of privacy, it does not provide complete anonymity. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see your browsing history, and the websites you had visited can track you.
7. Use a VPN
To improve your privacy on the internet, you should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide your primary IP address. It takes power away from your ISP, creating a private network for your device by masking all your online activities.
A VPN is handy when connected to public Wi-Fi because it can be compromised. Too often, we hear of man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks whereby someone intercepts people's communication and hack into them.
Luckily, a reliable VPN like VPNIFY provides you with the highest level of anonymity. VPNIFY will keep you safe from cybercriminals who may want to steal your data.
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