This decade has seen some of the most drastic adaptation in digitisation. The rise in use of internet in almost all sectors is a big part of digitisation. But this has also made us vulnerable to hackers, identity thefts or financial frauds, phishing etc.
This has made it utmost important for us to be aware about the ways to protect privacy online. Online privacy or internet privacy or digital privacy will refer to the level of privacy about the personal or financial data that an individual is willing to share while browsing the internet for various reasons. Internet privacy and anonymity are of utmost importance to users especially as e-commerce continues to gain popularity.
The worldwide information security market is forecast to reach $170.4 billion in 2022, according to Gartner. Verizon estimated 45% of breaches featured hacking, 17% involved malware and 22% involved phishing and Personal data was involved in 58% of breaches in 2020.
How to protect your internet privacy?
Does this mean that individuals do not have any control on the data?
Not really, there are several tips and tool that you can use to guard your personal information. Keep reading to find some easy methods for internet security tips to safeguard your information.
Check your social privacy setting
All of us today have a social account. These networks have an access to a lot of personal information and surprisingly a lot of this is accessible to anybody on the internet by default. In recent times there have been several instances of hacking of social network profiles.
In 2020, a Twitter breach targeted 130 accounts, including those of past presidents and Elon Musk, resulted in attackers swindling $121,000 in Bitcoin through nearly 300 transactions.
It is strongly recommended that you check your privacy settings in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Limit the visibility if your account to only the people you know or you invite.
Do not overshare on social media. The more information you share, the more you are vulnerable of being a victim of identity theft, as these thieves can obtain essential data from your profiles and use it against you.
Secure your accounts
This past year has seen data breach and password leaks happening to companies like Equifax, Facebook, Home Depot, Marriot, Target, Yahoo and many more.
If you have an online account, there is a probability that it is easily accessible to the hackers. Use strong passwords to secure your online accounts and avoid using easily accessible details like your date of birth as password.
It’s nearly impossible to memorise long and unique passwords for all the services you use, but with a password manager you in this.
A password manager can generate passwords, monitor accounts for security breach, suggest changes in case of a week password as well as sync your passwords between computer and phone.
Another way to protect privacy online is to have a two step authentication whenever possible for online accounts. For example, step one is logging in to Facebook with your username and password. In step two, Facebook sends a temporary code to you in a text message or, even better, through an app like Google Authenticator, and you enter that code to log in.
Don’t use public storage for private data
Avoid using public platforms that are meant to share data to store or maintain personal information on it. For example Google Docs is not meant to store passwords or a Dropbox is not a place to store scans of important documents.
Use incognito mode for browsing or switch browsers
Whenever you browse any website there is a risk of exposing a lot of sensitive data. Using incognito mode is a better choice to avoid marketers to obtain your information and send you targeted ads. Now-a-days many web browsers provide their own privacy protection. For example in Chrome it is called Incognito mode, Firefox calls it Private Browsing and Internet Explorer uses InPrivate Browsing.
Although this may not be sufficient to safeguard your privacy you will need special tools to ensure safety. Be careful while online and anonymous search engines and virtual private networks.
Keep switching search engines or use anonymous search engines if you want to avoid getting targeted ads. Use anonymous search engines avoid your search history from being recorded or shared.
Access internet through VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) routes your online activity through an encrypted virtual tunnel. This keeps your IP address and location secret from sites you visit; it is used to protect internet search from hackers. Using VPN can be especially important when you are accessing public Wi-Fi. There are free VPN providers available but it will be beneficial to use a trusted paid service.
Also make sure you are using HTTP everywhere, it will direct you to secure version of site. This can be done in absence of VPN.
Cookies and online tracking
For most part cookies can be harmless, they tell the website your browsing details which helps the user remember logins, preference setting, language settings etc. This can be a problem when this information is shared with a third party, a strategy used by marketers for re-targeting. There are cookie-blocker browser extensions available, that can help you keep the third party away from gathering information about you.
Be careful of what you click online
One of the methods that the hackers use to access your private information is through phishing. Phishing is a cybercrime in which the target is contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institute to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personal identification information, banking credit card details, passwords etc.
This happens generally when you click on certain risky or unwanted links. Phishing threats are usually posed as ads to lure unsuspecting targets to obtain information.
Best way to avoid phishing is to be aware about how it happens and protect internet search in order to be alert before providing any valuable information to strangers.
Mobile apps and privacy
Mobile apps have made our lives easier in so many ways. In fact, the average Smartphone owner is using 9 apps per day and 30 per month. Many apps ask for permissions for using our location, access to contact details, microphones, and camera and so on. Some may genuinely need it for application to work but some can misuse it.
A good practice will be to understand if the app may really need these permissions and do you trust them with the information. If you are not comfortable sharing any details you can simply deny permission or through app settings.
Also use of end to end encryption on mobile messaging services to ensure the personal messages stay encrypted.
For example, WhatsApp uses end to end encryption but by default, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Google Allo do not use end-to-end encryption. To enable it, manually start a secret chat.
Use an Encrypted Operating System
It’s referred to as Full Disk Encryption on Windows 10, and File Vault on Mac OS. These encryption help to store then data on our computers in an unreadable manner. So that anyone who does not have authorisation cannot get access to your data. Encryption scrambles your data in such a way that only you, with the encryption key can make the data readable again.
Use DNT settings
DNT stands for “Do not track”. When you enable this feature on your browser, it means you are telling the third party that you do not want to be tracked. This feature is available on Chrome, Firefox or any other browser.
Secure your devices and use antivirus software
Antiviruses have been in the market for more than a decade and are very effective way to protect computer or mobile from virus and other online threats.
Make sure you have an updated, leading industry antivirus software on your device. Use them regularly to scan and detect threats.
As useful as internet is in today’s growing digital world, it also provide a sea of opportunities for hackers to attack our privacy. Awareness is the best way to avoid your personal data being shared with marketers and avoid theft. With above these internet security tips you can protect internet search, you can take charge of your own internet privacy. As much as we take care of our privacy individually, an organisation must also train its employees in cyber security training. Regular security awareness is a way through which businesses can create a tight shield to protect data and take basic security precautions.
Stay aware stay safe.
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