Varun Choudhary

A Digital Nomad Embracing Change!

A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Privacy Online

STARTER KIT

Seven entry-level measures you should be taking today to secure your online activity, and the personal data associated with it.

It’s no secret that you’re being watched online.

From massive data breaches to devastating phishing scams, the user’s privacy is always at risk in this digital age. Given that we spend a lot of time on the internet, it is important we all take our personal privacy more seriously.

Established fact — “respectable” sites, used by millions, like Facebook and Google, are constantly tracking you and collecting your data.

It is useful in many cases because it keeps their services free, and we see personalized ads. But data breaches like Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal raises a lot of concerns. Luckily, you can still have control over your data.

Here are a few tips to get started on the path towards safeguarding your personal information online.

Don’t Use Public WiFi

While public Wi-Fi networks are incredibly convenient, but they do not encrypt traffic. This means anyone can easily snoop on you and hack your phone or laptop. Hackers can easily spy on you and track your online activity. Besides, it requires zero hacking skills to hijack communication over a public Wi-Fi network. And if you must use a public network, consider using a VPN as it masks your IP address and encrypts your online activity. While this is not foolproof, but it does add an extra layer of security. Also, do not visit sites with missing SSL. Make sure they start with https.

Switch Search Engines

Most search engines keep tabs on your activity and collect your data so they can display ads based on your interests. Whenever we need to find something, we google it. In fact, 90 percent of the searches worldwide are made on Google. But Google also tracks you so they can show you relevant ads that you’re interested in. If you don’t like the idea of your data being used, you can switch to a search engine that does not track your data. Here are a few search engines that you can consider.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is one of the few search engines that doesn’t track you. Some search engines track your searches even when you’ve gone incognito. Luckily, DuckDuckGo protects user’s privacy and avoids the filter bubble of personalized search results. Since it doesn’t store your search history, you don’t get targeted ads.

TrustNav

TrustNav is another great search engine that doesn’t track your activity online. It also blocks ad trackers on the websites you visit. You can enjoy safe and private browsing without having to worry about your data being used without permission. TrustNav also doesn’t save your search history. They also have antivirus and Adblocker to make your browsing experience more enjoyable and safe.

Use A Different Browser

Switching to a different browser is another step you can take to protect your privacy online. Browsers like Chrome keep tabs on your browsing habits. You can go completely anonymous with browsers like Tor Browser. It aims to protect your location, browser history, and your personal data. Another great alternative is the Brave browser. It is a free and open-source web browser that blocks ads, website trackers, and gives a fast browsing experience.

Don’t Share Too Much On Social Media

The best way to protect your privacy online is to limit the amount of information you share on social media. Sharing too much information allows cybercriminals to gain access to your personal information like your financial details and other confidential data. A complete profile makes it easier for cybercriminals to impersonate you. Even if you’ve filled out enough information, make sure to check your privacy settings. This will give you an idea about how much of your private information is visible to the strangers.

Cover Your Webcam

Hackers can break into your computer and turn on your webcam to see what you’re doing. Therefore, it is important that you tape your webcam when not in use. Whenever you feel like using it, you can remove the tape. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared one of his photos where his laptop’s mic and the webcam was taped. If Zuckerberg is covering his camera, maybe you should too?

Use Different Passwords For Different Sites

Setting up different passwords for different sites can keep your accounts protected. It is a good practice, but surprisingly few people do it. Keeping the same password for different sites make you more susceptible to attacks. If a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, he will be able to access all the other accounts as well since they share the same password. This puts your confidential information at risk. Using a password manager, you can keep track of all your passwords. Also, it is suggested that you use strong passwords. Enable two-step verification of your accounts wherever possible.

Don’t Use Third-Party Apps On Social Media

Third-party apps requests too much information when you use them on social media platforms like Facebook. Always review the information that they are asking for. These apps use your data for marketing purposes and sometimes even worse. Some apps won’t work if you refuse to provide the information that they are asking for. It is advised that you only use apps that you trust.

Following these tips, you can begin to protect your privacy online. You don’t want to fall victim to scams, and you sure don’t want your data to be used against you.

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