Online privacy is an important issue and there are steps you can take to protect your financial and personal information while you visit your favourite social media, news, and entertainment sites. Here are some ways you can boost your online privacy.
Limit the amount of information you share on social Media
One of the most important ways to protect yourself is to not overshare on social media. Providing too much information on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram could make it easier for cybercriminals to obtain identifying information, which could allow them to steal your identity or to gain access to your financial information. For example, a hacker could browse your social media pages and determine which school you went to or what your mother’s maiden name was. This type of information is often used as security/challenge questions when dealing with passwords on many different accounts including financial accounts.
Browsing in Private Mode
To protect your online privacy, ignore the “About Me” fields in your social media profiles. You do not have to let people know what year or where you were born. Again, this makes it much easier for a hacker to target you for identity theft. You should also explore the available privacy settings on all social media accounts and limit the people who can view your posts to those you have personally invited. You should also create strong passwords for your social media profiles. See our article about password management.
Modern web browsers allow you to browse in a form of privacy protection. Chrome calls it Incognito Mode, Firefox calls it Private Browsing and Internet Explorer, or Edge calls it InPrivate Browsing. Browsing in these modes disables browsing history, cookies and temporary internet files. When you search with these modes turned on, others will not be able to trace your browsing history but be aware that your Internet Service Provider can still see your browsing activity as can your employer if they have setup logging.
Use a different Search Engine
If you are like most people, you rely heavily on Google as your search engine. Google collects your personal data and browsing habits by default and this data is shared with marketing companies who target you with their advertisements.
It is worth noting that there are other search engines available that do not keep track of your browsing habits. If online privacy is a concern to you, DuckDuckGo is the best alternative to Google. As the website does not track your online activities there are no ads to be shown. It has a clean interface and brings search results from Yahoo, Yandex and other search engines besides Google. It offers all the features of Google and has a great feature called “bangs”. Bangs allows you to search directly on sites such as Amazon, Wikipedia or YouTube by starting the query with an exclamation mark eg !facebook (query), !youtube (query)
Use a Virtual Private Network
One of the best ways to make sure your browsing is private and anonymous is to implement a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. A VPN will mask your computers unique address making it extremely difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access any personal information. This is particularly important when you are using a public WIFI such as a coffee shop, an airport or a library.
There are many VPN providers available to choose from. The two most popular ones are
ExpressVPN – www.expressvpn.com
NordVPN – www.nordvpn.com
Simply pay a monthly or annual fee, download the software to your computer and connect to the VPN before you start browsing.
Secure your Mobile Devices too
Many of us spend time surfing the web, answering emails and watching movies on our smartphones. It is therefore important to put in as much effort into protecting your online privacy on our phones and tablets as on our computers. Please see our article about Mobile Protection.
Use a Quality Antivirus Product
Always install a reputable antivirus software on all your devices. Antivirus software can keep hackers from being able to remotely take over your computer to access your personal and financial information.
Antivirus software manufacturers regularly provide updates to their software to provide defence against new vulnerabilities including malware, viruses and spyware. If your antivirus is not setup to install automatically or you are not sure if it is, head to the manufacturers website and search their help articles for confirmation.
Important Social Security Settings
Manage your Instagram account privacy settings – https://help.instagram.com/196883487377501
Security tips – https://help.instagram.com/369001149843369
Manage your FB account privacy settings – https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242
Security tips – https://www.facebook.com/help/285695718429403
Manage your Twitter privacy & security settings – https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/twitter-privacy-settings