Threats to online privacy seem to grow every day so make sure you know how to protect yourself. There are a lot of things you can do to stay safe online. Unfortunately, not all of them are guaranteed to work.
Clearing your browser history, for example, can’t really do anything. Installing an ad blocker won’t get the job done, too. If you really want to protect your online privacy, here are the things you need to do.
Use secure passwords and usernames
It seems so convenient to just use the same usernames and passwords for every site. That way, you can remember them even without writing things down.
But, consider this:
If you use an easy-to-guess password for your social media and use the same one to log in to your bank, you’ve just made it super easy for someone to gain access to your bank account.
To protect yourself, choose passwords that are at least eight characters long and make sure they contain different types of characters. Use numbers, capital letters, lower-case letters, and symbols. Change your password for every site you frequent, too.
Use a password manager
The next step in password protection is to use a password manager. It’s an app that can generate crazy-long passwords that you couldn’t possibly remember. It encrypts not only your password but also your security questions and their answers, your credit card numbers and their PINs and other vital security information.
Now, all you have to remember is the password to your password manager.
Don’t click on the link
You know better, right? So, why do you click on those links you get on your email?
Usually, it’s because the email came from someone you trust. However, what if your friend clicked on a malicious link? Your friend’s entire address list could have been hacked and that includes you.
As much as possible, don’t click on suspicious links, even if they came from people you trust.
Lock down your social networks
Sure, those warnings that pop up on Facebook every month or so about how the platform is going to steal all your data are indeed trollish. But, even though they’re fake news, they actually have a point.
You need to lock down your social media privacy settings which are often defaulted to Public. This setting means everyone can see everything on your wall.
For your online privacy, change your settings to Friends. If you should unlock a single post to Public, make sure you haven’t inadvertently opened up your whole account to the world.
The bonuses here? Real life bad guys can’t see when you’re away from home to break in and steal your non-virtual stuff and your bosses and ex can’t see what you did on the weekend.
Look for a secure connection
When you’re about to log on to a site, take a look at the URL. Does it say “http” or “https”?
That “s” stands for “secure” and it means that your data (including your username and password) are being encrypted as they travel back and forth across the web. This is particularly vital when you’re making online purchases or handling other financial transactions.
Often, you’ll see a padlock icon next to the URL to confirm the secure connection. While you’re at it, secure your own devices by setting and actually using the lock screens on each device.
It’s so cute when a brand you’ve shopped with sends you just the perfect ad, isn’t it? Except, it’s not so cute after all.
That brand or advertiser found you by attaching cookies to your browser and now they’re following you — and not in a good way. In some cases, they can even follow you from all your devices to keep track of your online behavior.
Block those third-party cookies. The advertisers will still be able to track the pages you visit, but they’ll have to work a whole lot harder to do it.
Use a VPN
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is probably one of the best and simplest ways to protect your online privacy. With a VPN, your data is encrypted so your internet service provider can’t see your internet usage — and neither can anyone else. VPNs provide protection against hackers and they keep your surfing safe when you’re using Wi-Fi.
Head to Tor to anonymize your IP address automatically. With Tor, your browsing experience becomes private — well, as private as you can be, given that you’re still on the internet. It can hide your information from hackers who want your identity, corporations that want your money and data and government that wants who even knows what.
There are a lot of dodgy people on the internet. Don’t let them into your virtual home. Take these basic steps today to protect and maintain your online privacy.
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Author: Mike MacKenzie
Mike MacKenzie is an Internet Security aficionado and writer at vpnsrus.com. In this day and age where net neutrality is under attack and Governments and corporations watch everything we do online, he believes it’s vital we all do everything we can to maintain our privacy online.