When you connect to the internet, your activities are open for a lot of parties to see. Your ISP can see exactly what you’re doing online. Governments of several countries keep an eye on internet connections in their borders. Then there are the hackers who might be lurking on your network to steal your confidential details.
Today, people are aware of these threats and take measures to stay safe. Are you taking all the steps to make sure your data stays secure? Now that the new year has started, we must make sure that we follow all safety measures to stay safe and anonymous when we go online.
Let’s look at some of the privacy tips you need to follow.
1. Use A VPN
I’m sure by now you’ve at least heard about VPNs. A VPN will reroute your internet traffic through one of its own servers to maintain your anonymity.
Also, it encrypts your traffic so your ISP or the government cannot see what you’re doing, the same goes for hackers. With high-grade encryption offered by all top VPN companies, no hacker will be able to find out what you’re doing online.
However, make sure you get a trusted VPN that does not log your data. Free VPNs are generally a bad idea since they might be tracking your activities themselves.
2. Log Out
In an age where browsers prompt us to let them remember our passwords, logging out may seem odd. However, it is a very wise privacy habit, which minimizes the number of ways your data can be compromised.
When you close an app, your account still remains open. So, you need to manually log out. While this might seem a bit old fashioned, but it is definitely going to keep your data safe. This is a particularly good habit for all finance-related online activities and app usage.
3. Don’t Use Any Sensitive Services On Public Networks
Public networks aren’t safe. So if you’re on public Wi-Fi, try not to send any sensitive information on the internet. The idea of free Wi-Fi is very enticing for many but these routers are plagued by all types of hackers and cybercriminals. There is no telling who is on an open network snooping in on your private activities.
You do not want to compromise your credit card details just to get five minutes of free Wi-Fi. There are many sophisticated methods of data theft which are not detected until it is too late.
It is best to keep off such networks, and certainly never to access critical services through them. If you do have to access a free Wi-Fi, make sure you use a VPN while you’re connected.
4. Use Strong Passwords
Most of us are in the habit of using one password for everything we do online. Whether it is our social media or our bank account, we use the same password. This is very convenient but it also leaves us open to many kinds of cyberattacks.
If a hacker were to get access to this one password, everything else would be compromised as well. So, it is always wise to keep the passwords for financial accounts separate.
Further, you should also change them regularly and also use case sensitive characters and symbols. This makes it much harder to figure out an account password.
If remembering all the different passwords is difficult for you (and I’m sure it is), you can use a password manager. This will help you keep long and sophisticated passwords and change them regularly. All you have to remember is just the master password for the vault.
5. Turn Off Geo-Location
Geo-location services are used by a lot of the apps on our devices these days. However, most of us rarely need them and even if we do, they only offer a minor convenience. In return though, they provide detailed accounts of our daily travel routes and activities to major corporations.
If you are among those who like getting updates on discounts going on in the shopping malls near you, you can keep it on. However, if you are concerned about your digital safety, then turn off the location features unnecessary apps. These include your social media, dating apps, restaurant locators, and others.
6. Go HTTPS Only
HTTPS has been around for some time now but sadly, not everyone has caught onto it. The S at the end of HTTPS stands for Secure and represents a base level encryption. This encryption prevents any parties other than the website you visit from seeing your data.
With a rising number of cyber crimes perpetrated every day, users need all the security they can get. HTTPS is the first step to take in the right direction.
7. Make Your Social Media Private
For the majority of internet users, the biggest security and privacy leaks come from social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made our lives a lot more dynamic. However, they have also introduced us to new threats.
Aside from your ISP and the government monitoring your social media accounts, you might also have malicious agents doing that. In fact, if your posts are not restricted to your approved friends, then all your posts can compromise your security.
Hackers and stalkers can even get your phone number from your profile. Make sure no one other than those you trust can access your personal information by securing it against unknown parties.
8. Don’t Open Unknown Emails
The biggest weak link in the security chain is always human error. As internet devices have become more secure, hackers have turned more to methods like social engineering to compromise users. One of the most popular ways of compromising users is through phishing emails.
These emails pose as legit emails like from the IRS or from your bank and have you click a link. Once you do that, your device is injected with malware, which compromises your security to the hacker. You should never open any suspicious email and always verify the sender’s identity.
9. Mind Your Cookies
The cookie monster is very real in the cyber world. However, it is nothing like toddlers’ favorite monster. In fact, cookies compromise your privacy every time you reopen your browser. While cookies offer convenience, they take away safety.
You can turn off the option to automatically accept cookies. The downside of this will be that you’ll need to enter your details every time you log into a service.
10. Use Private Browsing
Private browsing is one of the most basic things you can do online to protect yourself. While your ISP will still be able to see your activity, people who have access to your device won’t.
While it’s super easy to use your browser in incognito/privacy mode, it doesn’t offer a lot of privacy. The best thing to do would be using a more private browser such a Tor. However, since Tor is slow, you might want to try other secure browsers such as Comodo Dragon browser.
The internet can be a happy hunting ground for anyone with the right skills and malicious intent. Do be a victim. Follow these top 10 privacy practices and keep your online activities shielded from everyone else!