Safeguard your internet privacy diligently. As cyber criminals prowl and social engineering assaults escalate, ensuring your web presence is secure and protected is wise.
Online privacy maintenance demands effort but preserves your information’s confidentiality. It also shields you from cybercrime and invasive advertising surveillance. Additionally, privacy measures thwart attempts by unknown online entities to pinpoint your physical whereabouts.
Below are 15 tips to fortify your data privacy on the internet.
1. Shield your webcam.
Whether it’s with a band-aid or a sticker, choose when you want to be seen with some low-tech tape to stop anyone from looking through your computer or phone camera.
You may also want to consider blocking your headphone jack, as one Big Tech CEO was found doing on his laptop a few years back.
2. Secure your screens.
Firstly, it’s essential to secure your computer, tablet, or phone with a password or passcode to prevent unauthorized access in the event of theft.
If you cohabit, screen locking deters others from viewing or rifling through your files when you step away.
Additionally, a mischievous cat may inadvertently send gibberish to your contacts by lounging on the keyboard.
To lock your Mac screen, use “Command + Control + Q”; for Windows, press “Windows + L”. Always keep your devices with you when outdoors, never leaving them unattended.
3. Survey your environment.
When working in a public area, ensure that onlookers are not positioned to view your screen or keyboard, particularly during account logins.
To conceal your whereabouts, remain vigilant about the background in photos or videos. Additionally, scrutinize your surroundings during video calls to remove any unwanted items from view.
4. Make sure your devices are updated.
Dismissing those persistent notifications for the latest software updates can be tempting, but they play a vital role.
With hundreds of thousands of new malware variants emerging daily, it’s imperative to protect against zero-day exploits by keeping your devices up to date. Updates enhance not only your online privacy but also the functionality, feature set, and overall user experience of your apps and operating systems.
5. Avoid using personal accounts on public networks or devices.
Avoid logging into your social media or online banking accounts on public Wi-Fi networks, as they are often unsecured and may expose your data to third parties or allow malicious entities to monitor your activity and compromise your credentials, potentially leading to malware infections.
However, if using a public network is necessary, you should…
6. Utilize a VPN.
Using a VPN reroutes your device’s internet traffic through a secure, encrypted tunnel, rendering your online activities indecipherable to internet service providers or potential snoopers.
Additionally, a VPN enables access to geographically restricted content and may offer savings during online shopping. While connected to a VPN, your true IP address is masked, displaying only the VPN’s network IP address to external observers.
It is particularly crucial to activate a VPN when connecting to unprotected public Wi-Fi, which may be vulnerable to cyber threats.
7. Disable location tracking on your devices.
Sharing is fulfilling, yet broadcasting your location on social media can invite unwanted attention from advertisers and, more alarmingly, stalkers.
With more applications containing trackers, than one might expect, we advise disabling your phone’s GPS and limiting location access to apps only when essential or while actively in use, thereby reducing your digital footprint.
8. Disregard dubious emails.
Receiving unsolicited emails or spam is inevitable, despite vigilant protection of your email address. Your response is crucial.
The sole action you should take is to promptly delete these emails. Opening them or interacting with any links risks compromising your device and privacy.
Ignore the urge to respond to such emails; replying can inadvertently verify your email address’s validity to spammers, leading to increased unwanted correspondence. Instead, utilize the unsubscribe option or report the email as phishing to prevent future occurrences.
Responding to spam may inadvertently signal to your email provider that you find these messages relevant, reducing the effectiveness of spam filters. Therefore, consistently ignore, delete, and report spam to ensure it is recognized and filtered appropriately by your email service.
9. Utilize robust, distinctive passwords.
Three prevalent passwords are “QWERTY,” “password,” and “111111”; avoid these to protect your online privacy. Opt for robust passwords combining numbers, letters, and special characters.
For optimal security, generate complex passwords using a random password generator, and enhance protection with two-factor authentication and password managers.
10. Activate two-factor authentication for your accounts.
Across platforms ranging from G Suite to social media and task management applications, employing two-factor authentication (2FA) is essential for fortifying your accounts with a supplementary one-time password.
This significantly diminishes the likelihood of unauthorized access through brute-force attacks that compromise your data. Typically, you can enable 2FA within the Account or Security section of your settings.
For enhanced protection, consider utilizing a physical security key, such as a YubiKey. Concurrently, reinforce your passwords and securely store them in a password manager.
11. Control Your Cookies
Cookies are not only delightful with milk but are also tools for online de-anonymization. Websites utilize cookies to create a digital identity, enabling companies to monitor your activity and serve personalized advertisements.
To safeguard your privacy, consider installing browser extensions that block third-party cookies.
12. Browse more anonymously.
Leverage tools that enhance your online anonymity. For optimal privacy, consider using the Tor browser. Consult our evaluation of the most privacy-conscious browsers.
For a search engine that respects your privacy, opt for DuckDuckGo, our premier choice in our assessment of search engines dedicated to preserving user privacy.
13. Avoid clicking on untrusted links.
Exercise caution with shortened URLs, and avoid opening them outside of secure, anonymized browsers like Tor, as their ultimate destinations are obscured.
As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, anticipate a surge in communications regarding updates to company policies, banking procedures, or application functionalities to accommodate this shift.
Remain vigilant against emails soliciting password updates or information changes; these requests may well be phishing attempts aimed at acquiring your company credentials or inducing malware or ransomware installation on your device.
Should you receive an email whose authenticity is uncertain, refrain from following its directives and instead visit the entity’s official website to make any necessary modifications, contacting their support staff for assistance as required. Verify the authenticity of any dubious company-related emails by directing them to the designated department for confirmation.
14. Utilize only messaging apps with end-to-end encryption.
Encryption is an effective way to maintain the privacy of your conversations. When selecting a chat application, verify if it provides end-to-end encryption, the optimal standard, rather than just encryption in transit.
15. Steer clear of unsecured websites.
Observe the small padlock icon adjacent to the URL in your browser’s top left corner—this symbolizes an encrypted connection via Transport Layer Security (TLS), safeguarding your data from threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks.
Although HTTPS does not ensure complete security, it significantly enhances your privacy. Prioritize navigating HTTPS-protected sites and avoid conducting transactions on unsecured ones. Most prominent browsers are configured to default to HTTPS connections when possible; verify your browser settings to confirm this functionality.
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