Almost 56% of the world’s population has access to the internet today and they use it for a variety of tasks. This means that a lot of these people leave traces of their personal lives online in one way or another. Individual privacy is of utmost importance to every person. It is the basic right of human beings. Unfortunately, on the internet, protecting privacy is becoming a challenge everyday.
On April 23rd, 2018 the United States government ended net neutrality giving internet service providers the ability to regulate networks as they deem fit. Moreover, these ISPs are now bound by law to provide private user information to government agencies on request.
These are the types of measures which threaten a fundamental human right. It is therefore, imperative that people take certain steps to protect their privacy while connected to the internet. Here are ten tips for ensuring just that:
Remember to log out
Believe it or not, the simplest measures are sometimes the most effective. Make sure that you log out of all your social media as well as Google accounts. It doesn’t matter if you are using a personal device or a public computer. Also, make sure that you don’t leave these tabs open in your browser.
Don’t access confidential accounts on public networks or devices
While connected to the internet, users are vulnerable to different threats. This is especially relevant when accessing it over a public network or device. Using the wifi at your local coffee shop or a computer at a local internet café means that the provider controlling the network can monitor your browsing history and also keep track of any private information that you might be entering online. Also, these networks have minimal security so malicious elements can connect to them and peek into your data traffic or plant viruses on your device. As a result, you are at considerable risk of losing sensitive data to third parties.
Use a VPN
A reliable VPN helps mask your identity and protect the traffic sent through your data connection. Services like Ivacy VPN provide you the ability to connect to more than 1000 secure DNS servers in 100+ locations. This ensures anonymous browsing. Furthermore, Ivacy VPN keeps no log of any data so the threat of leaking private data becomes void. Using a VPN means that as long as you are connected to the internet, all the data travels over a secure channel. Additionally, Ivacy VPN is based in a country where net neutrality and other information sharing don’t exist. This is something you don’t have to worry about anyway because there is no record of any information maintained anyway.
With attractive pricing bundles that go as low as $2.25 a month, Ivacy is one of the most comprehensive, credible and secure VPNs out there which help protect you from the threats of cyber crime.
Be wary of services asking for your details in exchange for information or prizes
There are several ways which different entities have devised to gain access to your private information online. What they do with this data can depend. Some might use it for profiling purposes or to sell as databases to marketing companies. Others might have more sinister intentions. It has already revealed that individuals are at an increasing risk of falling victim to a variety of cybercrimes which are now prevalent on the internet. These can include false impersonation, identity theft and ransomware among many others.
The methods through which different elements gain access to your private data may vary. One of the most common is random ads which pop up on certain websites. These banners claim to be offering prizes in the form of cash, coupons or gift cards. However, you will have to enter certain personal information. Be careful about the details you are giving out because even the smallest details like your email address can be used to spam or even plant viruses into your system and access your personal details.
Be careful when sharing your location
Sometimes, user location is being tracked without them even knowing about it. For instance, every time a person enters a URL in their browsers address bar, the internet service provide receives a ping from the respective device. This ping is the IP address which can be used to track the location of the computer from which it originates. This is how these service providers can keep track of entire browsing sessions, where this activity was performed, who did it and what information they entered online etc. Inadvertently then, users put their privacy at risk in a big way.
In other instances, we allow certain applications and programs to access our location at random times. These are things that you need to be careful about. Consider the implications before allowing any software to track your location in real time. Using a reliable VPN service is one of the most effective solutions out there.
Don’t interact with suspicious emails
Email attachments have become the most common medium for attempting to plant viruses or ransomware into a system. A seemingly legitimate email ends up in your inbox. It either has a link to a page that prompts an automatic download or contains a Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint attachment. Obviously, these are programs which we know to be reliable and an email containing these documents in intriguing on its own. Users end up downloading these attachments and as soon as they open them, the intruding virus gains access to the computer.
This is one of the reasons why experts now recommend users to be extra vigilant while opening emails which are received from sources that are not credible. More importantly, if you receive an email from an address you are not aware of and it contains an attachment or any sort of link. It should set alarm bills ringing. Make sure that you ignore such emails.
Use a strong password
Yes, there are tens of accounts that we operate and remembering passwords is a difficult task. This is why people set easy passwords so that they can retain them easily. This puts the accounts at an enormous amount of risk though. Simpler passwords are much easier to guess for someone trying to gain unauthorized access to your accounts. Make sure that you set a strong password for accounts which contain information that you are willing to keep private. Passwords can be kept safe using a host of applications which store them for you.
Manage your cookies
HTTP cookies are bits of information which are stored on the user’s computer by a website temporarily. The reason is to enhance and speed up the browsing experience by allowing certain data to be available readily. As you can imagine, cookies from website which are reliable might not be a problem but for unsecure websites, it is important that users deny permission to store cookies. Once any piece of data gains access to your computer, they gain the ability to manipulate your system in any way possible. The repercussions of this are endless.
The most effective way to do this is by using a VPN. The advantages of browsing anonymously are manifold. Firstly, the internet service provider, who would normally receive all the details of your browsing session, can’t keep track of your IP address. This is because it is masked as it is being routed through the servers of the VPN service provider. Secondly, you have the ability to protect certain types of content from being discovered by authorities. Torrents, for instance, can be downloaded without giving away their location. Lastly, anonymous browsing makes certain content available to you even though it might be unnecessarily blocked in your country.
Be careful of what you share online
This is by far the most important thing that you can do while using the internet. Depending on the type of information you want to protect, make sure that you share limited information online. Marketing is becoming increasingly personal and details from social media accounts are quite frequently being used for profiling. Also, sensitive information like bank account details which might be entered or sent over an unsecure network has chances of failing on you. All these different types of information can easily be used against you in many different ways causing harm to property, life and wellbeing.
Many times, we share sensitive information without being aware of it. Many users turn a blind eye to the sensitivity of the situation because they haven’t been through it personally. The number of individuals going through the consequences of not protecting their privacy adequately is growing every year. If a person hasn’t suffered a loss as a result of a cybercrime, it doesn’t mean that they are protected in some way and that they won’t ever be a victim of any such activity. Your privacy is your responsibility and it is always wise to play safe than sorry.