Simple steps to protect online privacy
The internet is dark and full of terrors and that is not an exaggeration. Most all get a false sense of protection just because we are hiding behind a screen. I’m here to tell you, you shouldn’t feel safe just because you have the feeling that no one is watching you. (Trust me I’m a web developer 🙂 ). Almost all the websites track and collect data about their users. Some websites keep tracking you all over the internet .. no matter where you go.
How they do it an how they collect this private data is a topic for another post. In this post I will explain to you how to shield yourself form those intruders. Please note that these are not hard core methods that needs special tools and knowledge. These are rather simple few steps/habits you can follow to protect your online privacy.
1. Use more than one email address and aliases
This is a simple thing to do. Most of us ignore this just because we don’t want go through the pain of maintaining several email addresses. You can ease your burden by using the second option below which is a password manager. I suggest to use several email addresses for different categories.
- Personal use
- Professional use
- Online shopping
- Forums and website signups
- Subscription services
- One email for junk stuff (cough.. cough)
* For personal, professional and banking I’m not against using your real name. In all other categories others you can be creative.
* For the junk mail (mail address for trivial sites) never use your real credentials. Even for most of your forum subscriptions for that matter.
* Be extra careful when you are giving out credit card details, full name, address and answers to security questions. If any data you give out can uniquely identify you, that should be considered seriously.
This is one of the easiest ways to protect your privacy online. Note that separating your tasks and the accounts associated with those tasks gives you an added layer of security. How? if one gets compromised your whole life won’t go down the drain since you will still have control over others.
2. Use strong passwords and a password manager
Never use the same password for all your online accounts. Period. Storing all your passwords in a text file called passwords.txt is a bad idea too. Try using a password manager like KeyPass which provides a password generator too.
3. Never login to sites using your social accounts (Facebook, Google plus, Twitter) if you can avoid that
Protecting online privacy means protecting your private data. We knowingly or unknowingly post staggering amount of private data in social websites. Our likes to dislikes and friends to relationships. When you signup to a website using these logins you risk being followed and tracked. Most of all you are giving access to your private data to another party.
4. Use private browsing mode (or incognito in Chrome)
Make use of “private browsing mode” given in all modern browsers and if at all possible never use Internet Explorer which is one of the least secure browsers. Private browsing destroys all cookies, sessions and history which makes the websites harder to track you. Please note that this does not make you invisible, so be sure you don’t go and do something you shouldn’t be doing. And always use this method if you are using a public or a borrowed computer.
5. Never log in to your emails or banking sites while using a public wifi
This is simple but most people tend to ignore this. But the danger is real since the if the person who owns has malicious intent he can look and capture your online traffic and data which is obviously not good for you. There are ways to bypass this by using VPN but I will leave more advance suff for a later post (perhaps).
6. Review what your phone has access to
Smart phones has enabled a whole new era of communication. Unfortunately they are one of the biggest threats to our online privacy. It has access to location data (places you visit, your home) , email addresses, your contacts, your photos and many more. This is a whole new post if I want to go through all the details of how to make your phone somewhat secure. But I will give you quick tips you can use immediate
Stop sharing your location and switch off your location services
- Stop sharing so called ‘anonymised’ data to Google or Apple (depending on your smart phone)
- Stop geotagging your photos automatically
- Have a separate email to your phone and another email for third party applications.
Bonus – do not click on the links you don’t trust.
Is someone asking you to send you $500 so he can send you the $100000.00 or whatever? Or just asking you to simply click a link to earn money form home while doing nothing? If it is too good to be true don’t click on that link.
What are your “non so technical” methods of protecting your online privacy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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