Six Best Practices to Protect Your Online Privacy
As you spend an increasing amount of time online, you inevitably leave a large data trail behind you. This places your internet privacy at the risk of being invaded. And if left unguarded, your data could be the subject of identity theft, stalking and even general snooping.
Therefore, taking steps to protect your data should be a top priority to guard against any unwelcome intruders with malicious or simply inquisitive intent. So let’s take a closer look at the 6 best practices you must proactively follow to ensure your internet privacy.
Remove your details stored by data brokers
Data brokers and aggregators carry a massive amount of personal data of pretty much anyone with an online footprint. They collect a staggering amount of information from various sources like social profiles and public records, which are then stored in their databases. Therefore, unknown to you, these data brokers could be collating any amount of your data from your address and contact number to your financial and professional details.
They do this for various reasons such as to enable targeted advertising, risk assessments or background searches. While some of these activates could be invasive and plain malicious, some are, in fact, useful and could even serve to protect us. People search sites, for example, collate data and provide background search reports to help pre-screen tenants or new employees.
If you are concerned about protecting your online privacy, you can reach out to data brokers and request that they delete your profile. Most legitimate and reputed data brokers and aggregators provide an opt-out option for you to remove personal data from their databases. Companies like the KBM Group that profile data for advertising purposes and people search sites like Nuwber, all provide this feature. And you can often get this done free of charge.
Use a Virtual Private Network
Virtual Private Networks, commonly called VPNs, are a popular option nowadays to browse the internet anonymously. VPNs make it difficult to track your location by redirecting your internet traffic through servers in different countries. And they often provide an encrypted connection to prevent anyone from eavesdropping into your online activities.
There are many VPN options available in the market such as NordVPN and CyberGhost. Some of them come free while others may require a payment to access. However, paid VPNs offer better security and server options and therefore could give you that extra peace of mind.
Clear browser history and cache
Your search history is another easy place to get access to your online activities. And there are many ways it can potentially get to the wrong hands like in the form of spyware downloaded from a website or simply by gaining physical access to your computer.
So, ensure that you regularly delete your cache and browser history to prevent leaving behind an online data trail. This can be done easily by going into the setting options of your browser.
Think twice before you share online
You could often be unaware of the large amount of personal data that you divulge on the internet on a regular basis. And this is mostly done with little knowledge of how those data could travel far and wide online.
Those selfies you posted of you and your friends, the free newsletter you signed up for, and even the profile you created just to make an online purchase can all add up to the hundreds and thousands of your data released to the digital space. And most of this information is shared among third parties and could be used for various commercial or even malicious purposes unknown to you.
So, think twice before you overshare on social media or the next time you sign up to create a personal profile. Always check your profile settings to review how your information is disclosed. Read the fine print on data protection and information sharing policies.
Mind your emails
Emails are a common source of phishing attacks. And they are often triggered by a seemingly familiar email address impersonating an individual or an organization known to you. It could take the form of a request to confirm account details by your bank or an urgent request for money by a friend for an emergency.
These emails could also prompt you to click a link or download an attachment. This could allow malicious spyware to hack your confidential data or ransomware to take over your device. These are all popular scams and criminal activities that are growing in numbers.
Therefore, never share personal or confidential information through emails. Always call and verify any email requests received. And avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from any suspicious-looking emails.
Protect your devices with anti-virus software
A good antivirus software could go a long way to protect your devices from a hostile takeover by a ransomware or from hackers stealing your data unknown to you.
There are many options available in the market at different price levels. And we always recommend opting for a reputed brand. While these can be more expensive than others, it’s worth the investment to protect your online privacy. After all, the stolen data could cost you much more.
Also, remember to renew your anti-virus guard subscription every year, and familiarize yourself with its automatic and manual features.
The many benefits of technology have made it increasingly difficult for you to evade the hyper-connected digital world. And in this modern era of digital sharing, protecting your online privacy has become even more challenging. So, instead of fighting it, ensure that you take proactive steps to safeguard your data from getting into the wrong hands.