In the digital age, protecting your privacy online has become more important than ever. Whether you use a burner phone, utilize a VPN service, or take advantage of encrypted messaging apps, there are steps you can take to protect your privacy and keep your personal information safe online.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) should be no-brainers for many of us, but you'd be surprised by how many people aren't taking this easy step to protect their online accounts.
Password generators can help you come up with a seemingly random password and even store it for you in some cases — just remember, don't write your passwords down and keep them buy your desk! There are thieves to look out for in real life, too.
If you choose to create your own passwords, use a combination of upper and lowercase characters, numbers, and special symbols. Make sure each password you use is unique for each new account. The time saved by reusing passwords isn't worth the time it will take to recover your account if it's compromised.
Finally, 2FA adds a layer of security beyond a great password to make hackers even less likely to get into your sensitive data.
2. Be Cautious of What You Share Online
Avoid sharing personal information such as your home address, phone number, or social security number on public forums or social media platforms. License plates, street corners, and geotagging are all simple ways to give strangers unprecedented access to who and where you are.
3. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address, making it difficult for others to track your online activity. VPNs are especially useful when using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Through a VPN, you can protect your privacy and keep your personal information safe while browsing the internet.
4. Keep Your Software Updated
Keeping your software up-to-date is an important step in protecting your privacy online. Software updates often contain security patches and bug fixes that can help prevent cyberattacks and other privacy violations. Set your software to update automatically or manually check for updates regularly.
5. Try Privacy-Focused Search Engines
Many popular search engines collect and store your personal information, including your search history and IP address. However, privacy-focused search engines such as DuckDuckGo and StartPage do not track your online activity or collect your personal information. By using these search engines, you can protect your privacy and browse the internet anonymously.
6. Use Encryption Tools
Encryption tools such as encrypted messaging apps and secure email services can protect your privacy online. These tools use encryption to scramble your messages and prevent them from being intercepted by third parties. When using these tools, be sure to choose reputable ones with strong security features, like WhatsApp.
7. Limit Your Use of Public Wi-Fi
We all have enjoyed a cup of coffee and a pastry at a local coffee shop while working, but this shouldn’t be your regular place to conduct business. Public Wi-Fi networks can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, making it important to limit your use of them whenever possible. If you absolutely have to join a public Wi-Fi network, use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic and avoid accessing sensitive information such as bank accounts or personal email accounts.
8. Use Ad Blockers and Tracker Blockers
Ad and tracker blockers can help protect your privacy online by blocking ads and tracking scripts that collect your personal information. These tools can also speed up your internet browsing and reduce the risk of malware infections. However, be sure to choose reputable ad blockers and tracker blockers with strong security features.
9. Be Cautious of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are a common tactic cybercriminals use to steal personal information and login credentials. These scams often involve fake emails or websites that mimic legitimate businesses or organizations. To protect your privacy online, be cautious of unsolicited emails or requests for personal information, and always verify the legitimacy of the sender or website before providing any personal information. To be safe, report any suspicious emails and block the sender.
Prioritize Safety While Online
Protecting your privacy online has become increasingly important in today's digital age. Following the tips and best practices outlined in this article can reduce your risk of cyberattacks and other privacy violations. Protecting your privacy is an ongoing process, and staying informed and proactive is important to keep your personal information safe online.
Keep your computer and software systems current, and be cautious when using electronics in public. A few helpful tools like a VPN and encrypted messaging apps combined with safe online practices might be the difference between safety and being totally exposed online.