There is no question that the Internet has changed the way we all work, shop and communicate with one another leaving almost no Internet privacy.
But while the Internet has opened up a new world of possibilities, it has also created many problems, not the least of which is a loss of privacy.
Remember – Nobody Is Immune
There are constant warnings and news stories highlighting everything from phishing scams to hacking issues to identity theft. Nobody is immune, including major entities like Target and Equifax, which put over 143 million consumers at risk of having their identity stolen.
Even cities, government agencies and healthcare concerns have been hacked and held hostage until a ransom was paid to unlock their computers. The point is, nobody is immune from having their privacy invaded.
But there are things that we can do to help improve your Internet privacy. For instance, by minimizing your overall risk of violating that privacy. We’ve outlined some key tactics and strategies that should help to keep your privacy intact.
Remember – You’re in Control
Here’s the good news: the situation isn’t hopeless, because you’re in control of your privacy. You should follow some basic measures to keep your privacy on the Internet intact. Then you’ll be able to use the Internet without having to worry that some nasty individuals will invade your online privacy.
Most people simply don’t know what to do, where to start or why they’re vulnerable in the first place. So let’s look at ways your privacy can be breached while you use your computer and other devices.
Social Media and Privacy
If you use social media, as almost everyone does, it can become an entry point for others who want to invade your privacy. Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn or any one of a number of other sites, you have to certain precautions to protect your privacy.
Your social media settings are a good place to start. It’s not that you did or didn’t do anything specific, it’s that by default the social media app settings are making your data visible to anybody on the Net.
Whatever social media account you’re using, go to “Settings” and limit those who are able to see your information.
Facebook and Privacy
For example, with Facebook, you can determine who will see a new post you publish. You can also limit posts that you are tagged in. Older posts can be limited as well, and you can restrict who sees your posts and timeline, block certain users and even block pages.
It’s all found under “Settings,” and you’ll find the same type of options on other social media apps under “Settings” as well. Review your available options and decide how much public information is available to the public.
Communication and Privacy
Here’s something else that’s important to think about with respect to social media: know whom you’re communicating with! Many people end up having conversations on social media with people they don’t really know.
It’s critical to know the person’s real name and pertinent information about them before continuing with communication on various social media sites.
Know Who You’re Talking to
The best way to protect you is to use an online tool that helps reveal the true identity of the person you’re in contact with. One of the top tools is Nuwber, which will provide the name and pertinent info on the email address or phone number he or she is using.
Be smart – be safe, use the tool before letting the online conversation go on for too long!
Protect Your Passwords
If you use one password for everything, from your computer access to unlocking your phone or tablet as well as sites you continually visit like Amazon, you’re risking your privacy in a huge way!
Experts state that having a unique password for each device and site you visit is critical. If someone hacks your password and uses it everywhere, they can not only access your information but also wipe out your bank account, hijack your computer and do major harm.
Manage Your Passwords
It’s recommended that you use a password with a minimum of 12 characters, and as mentioned, use a different one for each service you use.
Managing many different passwords that are long is not easy, but there are apps available to manage your passwords and make it much easier to protect your privacy.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
One of the best ways to keep your data and information safe is to use two-factor authentication (2FA). So what is that? Normally, when you access an online account, you enter your user name and password.
Bingo! – you’re in. With 2FA, you have to enter another level of info. It could be a personal identification number (PIN). In some cases, it could be an answer to a security question that you’ve set up. Or even a fingerprint or facial recognition available on almost any modern smartphone.
If a hacker tries to access one of your accounts and doesn’t know the answer to one of the two factors, they block the access. It provides additional security and privacy to your online information.
Start Browsing in Private Mode
Most computers save browsing history, so there’s a record of every site you’ve visited. If you want to keep that information private, brose in what’s called the “incognito” or private mode. (In Chrome it’s “incognito;” in Firefox it’s called “private browsing”).
Once you activated the private mode, your computer won’t have a record of where you’ve visited. But be aware – your service provider will still have a record. And if you happen to be browsing at work, your employer will have a record of the sites you’ve searched as well.
Consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you really want to be anonymous when you’re online, create what’s called a “virtual private network,” or VPN. This is especially important when you’re online using WiFi at a public location, like a library or Starbucks.
The VPN will mask your real location and IP address, making your online activities untraceable. It will be extremely difficult for a cyber-hacker to breach your online privacy to access any of your personal information.
As you can see, there are many ways to protect your online privacy. This is particularly important in the way of all the hacking that is going on. Be especially vigilant when it comes to using social media and be sure you know who you are communicating with.
- Protect your passwords by always using a different one for each service you access online.
- Always use a minimum of 12 characters in your passwords
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA) to make it extremely hard for a hacker to access your online accounts.
- Consider browsing in “private mode” or incognito so your computer doesn’t keep a record of sites you visit.
- Finally, try to use a virtual private network (VPN) that will keep your actual location and IP address a secret.
Petr is a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Apro Software, a machine learning company. Whenever he’s not blogging about technology for itechgyan.com or softwarebattle.com, Petr enjoys playing sports and going to the movies. He’s also deeply interested in mediation, Buddhism and biohacking.