It is difficult to imagine life without the Internet today. The digital age has ushered in an era where our lives are increasingly synergetic with the internet. However, this has its drawbacks.
While the internet has brought a lot of opportunities, protecting your privacy online has gotten more critical. Governments, individuals, and companies now have to deal with the possibility of stolen data.
This year has witnessed increased data threats and breaches in both the number and severity of the breaches.
Therefore, with online scams, invasive tracking, and data breaches on the rise, if protecting your personal information means anything to you, you must take proactive steps to protect your privacy online.
Why Should You Protect Your Online Privacy?
There are so many threats to your personal information as an internet user. If you do not protect your internet privacy, you could suffer a malware attack where your files could be stolen or deleted without your knowledge.
The more personal information you share, the more personal details fraudsters and scammers have about you. Consequently, it gets easier for them to hack your accounts, scam you, or steal your identity to scam others.
Also, companies and advertisers could track your online behavior and collect your data through cookies for profiling and targeted advertising.
You could even do everything to keep your personal information safe online.
But guess what? The companies of the services you use could get hacked or even use what they know about you for fraudulent purposes. Hence, there is a need to be intentional about your internet privacy and security.
Thankfully, with these steps, you can protect your privacy online:
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may collect data on your online activities and sell to advertisers or scammers whether or not you use incognito mode. A reliable virtual private network (VPN) service provider can protect your privacy by encrypting your internet traffic so that no one can track your online activity.
This will make it difficult for hackers, advertisers, and even your internet service provider to monitor your online activities. If you unavoidably can’t access your home network and need to use public Wi-Fi networks, use a VPN to protect your data from being intercepted.
You won’t be the only one to use one. In the past 10 years, there has been significant growth in the VPN industry due to a rising need for data protection and online privacy from both individuals and organizations.
In 2016, the total revenue generated by the VPN market, including business, consumer, cloud, and SSL sectors, surpassed $15 billion. Then, last year, the VPN market grew into a $44.6 billion dollar industry.
Share Less Personal Information
Social media apps and websites usually request personal information to set up an account. While sharing some of this information is necessary, you can do alright on most occasions without giving out too much information.
Be selfish and selective about what you share with apps and service companies. Avoid sharing optional details such as your home address, phone number, or financial information as much as possible.
You may also choose who can view your posts and personal information in your privacy settings.
You could also create a throwaway email address to use for all forms of subscriptions. This way, your personal email address remains, you know, personal and does not land in shady hands.
Use Strong Passwords
You often have to rely on passwords as the only protection for online privacy. The least you can do is make it nearly impenetrable by combining different upper-case and lower-case letters, special characters, and numbers.
You can protect your online accounts by creating strong and unique passwords for each online service you use.
Refrain from using easily guessable information like birthdays. To protect the passwords to your numerous accounts, consider using a reputable password manager to secure your passwords.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Think of two-factor authentication as an extra layer of security to your accounts. It typically includes your password in conjunction with a one-time code or a dedicated authentication app.
Enabling 2FA significantly reduces the chances of unauthorized access to your online accounts, even if your password is compromised. They help to protect your security online even if you accidentally share your password with hackers in a phishing scam.
Pay Attention to Software and Apps Updates
Most privacy hacks take advantage of known vulnerabilities that can be circumvented with a software update. Cybercriminals capitalize on these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to your online data.
However, software and app updates usually have security patches and fixed vulnerabilities. You can protect your online privacy by regularly updating your operating system and applications.
Use Strong Encryption for Your Messaging Apps and Emails
Prioritize using messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp, or Telegram because of their encryption software to safeguard the privacy of your online conversations. These apps ensure your data remains scrambled, and only you and the intended recipient can access your texts.
The messages remain scrambled unless a decryption password is entered. Consider using email services that support end-to-end encryption or third-party plugins to encrypt your emails, especially if you’ll be sharing personal information.
Making efforts to protect your online safety and privacy requires a level of intentionality.
While there are a lot of strategies to protect your online privacy, the good news is that most of them are within your control. So, take control of your online data and enjoy a safer internet experience.
Your online privacy is your responsibility; do all you can to protect it.