Five ways to protect your privacy on the internet
Because these days, you never know.
The internet has revolutionized our lives in numerous positive ways, but it also has an unpleasant side. Sensitive personal data may be compromised leaving you vulnerable to fraud, extortion and unwanted advertising.
There are a number of steps you can take to keep your personal information secure, reduce the risk of a breach, and ensure a safer and more enjoyable browsing experience.
Leave Your Social Media Profiles Incomplete
When you create an account on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, you will be asked to fill out certain personal information. They require this data to ensure you have a more personalized experience. Yet, what is good for them is not necessarily good for you.
If any of the information is not mandatory (and the majority usually isn’t), you should not provide it. Even when you do avail the requested data, examine the platform’s privacy options so you can hide information that you do not want in the public domain such as date of birth, phone number and email address.
Protect Your Hardware
Install a credible antivirus software on all your devices to guard against malware. Also, configure your laptop, PC, tablet, and smartphone to prompt you for a password or passcode when it boots up or wakes from sleep.
It’s natural to trust your family and the people you live with. However, your laptop can be stolen or lost. A password makes it harder for thieves to extract your data. You can also install an app on your tablet or phone that will show your gadget’s location and allow you to remotely delete the data on it.
Many websites and online advertisers are keen on knowing your browsing habits, online purchases, preferred social networks, and socioeconomic status. By gleaning information about you, they can better target ads and present to those that are more likely to entice you to buy.
Private browsing can make it harder to figure you out. It was pioneered by Opera but is now available on all major web browsers. The private browsing setting deletes session history, temporary internet files, and cookies when you close the browser tab. For even greater privacy, you can surf the web using a proxy server or a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A strong password makes it harder for your account to succumb to a brute-force attack. The ideal password should have a mixture of letters, numbers, symbols and be at least eight characters long. In the past, one needed a password for each website they subscribed to. That has significantly changed now with a growing number of sites allowing you to register and sign in using your social media profile such as Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
Nevertheless, there will still be instances when you’ll require a fresh password for some sites. Using the same password on multiple sites may expose you to phishing and social engineering attacks in the event a third party gets hold of it. To eliminate this risk as well as the difficulty of remembering multiple passwords, use a password manager.
Two Factor Authentication
Strong passwords are good; 2-factor auth is even better. Initially a preserve of enterprise applications, two-factor authentication is now available on popular websites such as Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and Dropbox.
This means once you provide your user id and password, you’ll be required to key in a one-off code that’ll be sent to your phone. Some online services will have you enter this dynamic code each time you log in while others will only prompt you for the code when you’re accessing the site using a new browser or an unfamiliar device.
Follow these five steps and you’ll be in a better position to prevent your most sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.