Most people are online daily. The internet is one of the greatest inventions in history. It is a treasure trove of information, communication, and more. We couldn’t do without the internet, and chances are that you can’t either. However, you have to remember that as brilliant as the internet is, it also has a dark side. If you don’t take steps to protect yourself online, then you could run the risk of having your personal information stolen. Thankfully, there are only a few things that you really need to do to make it difficult for those with ulterior motives. In fact, you will make it so difficult for them that the vast majority won’t even bother trying to swipe your information.
Here, we want to share five essential tips for safeguarding your privacy online.
Keep Location Sharing To The Minimum
Nowadays, a lot of websites will ask you to share your location with them. You may notice it as a small pop-up on your browser or your cellphone. While there are some great reasons to have location sharing turned on (e.g. sharing location-specific news and weather), if you want to protect your privacy then you should use it sparingly.
It is important to remember that location sharing nowadays is highly specific. In the past, it probably would have drilled down the town or city that you are in. Now, depending on your set-up, it can work out roughly the house/apartment that you live in. Do you really want to be sharing this information with everybody? Chances are, probably not.
Whenever you get a location-sharing request from an online app or a text message, think about why the site needs to know where you are located. Most of the time, they don’t. They are just using that location for advertising purposes. If a site doesn’t let you use it without sharing your location information, then it probably isn’t a site worth being on.
Check Your Computer Regularly For Malware
Malware is a real problem for protecting your online privacy. Malware is a piece of software that runs in the background on your computer. It can come from tons of places. You may have accidentally downloaded something from a not-so-safe website, or it may have been included with something that you have pirated (don’t pirate if you care about online privacy!). Once it is there, you may not even realize it is there. However, that malware will be running, keeping tabs on what you do. Some will record website access, others will record keystrokes that can ‘steal’ passwords.
Thankfully, getting rid of malware isn’t too difficult. There are plenty of guides out there for avoiding malware in the first place. But, even if you follow them to a tee, there is still a risk that you will end up dealing with malware. So, download a free malware scanner and run it on your computer at least once a week. Make sure that the scanner is kept up to date.
Don’t Share More Information Than Needed
For some reason, people are always much more comfortable sharing information online than they are in person. They share their names, addresses, dates of birth, locations, etc. often without question. Don’t do that. It is probably the quickest way to have somebody steal your information.
Whenever you share information online, make sure that there is a reason behind it. For example, you probably shouldn’t be using your real name as a username on a forum, Reddit, etc. There is no need for it. However, there probably is a need to share your full name on something like Facebook.
Just like with your location data, don’t share more information than is needed. Think about the reasons why a company may need certain pieces of personal information from you. If they don’t need it, don’t share it.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network, known more commonly as a VPN, is something that you may have seen advertised before. It is a piece of software that can reroute your internet traffic through a secure server. This gives two benefits. The first is that the websites, etc. that you access are kept hidden. It becomes very, very difficult for people to ‘snoop’ on your information. Secondly, it allows you to hide your location. In fact, you can fool sites into thinking that you are located in a completely different location from where you are (a whole other country!).
While good VPNs will cost money (don’t use a free one), there is no better method for protecting your anonymity online.
Sometimes, try as you might, you won’t be able to protect your privacy 100%. This is why we suggest that you use two-factor authentication wherever possible. This is known as 2FA, for short. You may even be using it. If you need to use an SMS passcode to enter an account you own (most banks require it), then you are using 2FA.
When you have 2FA in place, it makes it very difficult for people other than you to access your account (and thus your personal information). If they don’t have your phone, they have access to nothing.
Online fraud has plummeted with the introduction of 2FA.
Remember, these essential tips for safeguarding your privacy online are just a starting point. There is so much more that you could be doing when you are online e.g. using password managers, having different passwords for each website, etc. However, we can assure you that if you use the tips that we shared on this page, the risk of your privacy being breached will be low. Most people interested in stealing personal information don’t really want to jump through hoops to steal it. Even a small amount of effort can keep them at bay.
An author of Namaste UI, published several articles focused on blogging, business, web design & development, e-commerce, finance, health, lifestyle, marketing, social media, SEO, travel.
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