How to Protect Your Privacy Online with These 21 Internet Privacy Tips of 2019

How to Protect Your Privacy Online with These 21 Internet Privacy Tips of 2019

If you want to know how to protect your privacy online, these are the must-know internet privacy tips.


Why is online privacy important?

No one is safe over the internet. Not to mention, nothing you do over the internet is private unless you take some cautions when you connect. The browsers you're using, the websites you visit, the apps - all of them keep track of your online activity one way or another.

Some of the information online services collect about your online behavior is used to target you with specific advertisements based on your browsing habits. But this information is also often exploited maliciously.

Online privacy matters because the more private information you expose over the internet, the more prone you are to becoming the victim of a hacker attack. Online attacks are not something to overlook as you can end up by having your private files deleted, stolen, and worst, the money from your bank account missing.

In this post, you'll find the best internet privacy tips to regain your online privacy for a secure online experience.


1. Know what are the risks

The internet is so huge that you may feel there is no way an attacker will target you if you don't step on anybody's toes. In reality, there are lots of ways you can get hacked, and while an attack can come from someone you personally, hackers don't always target specific people.

Knowing what the risks are when you're connected to the internet will give you a better understanding of how to protect your privacy online. Hackers can be sneaky, and common attacks such as phishing can be challenging to spot.


2. Social media privacy settings

Social media platforms collect a lot of data about their users. Their main goal is to offer users a personalized experience to better their services, but this also weakens your privacy on the internet. For example, Facebook knows more about you than you may think if you have the default privacy settings enabled. Things from all the places you've connected from (meaning all the places if you check your Facebook regularly) to even how many messages you've sent and to whom (SMS messages, not those in the Messenger app).

On most social media platforms, you can choose what kinds of information you allow them to collect about you. And the first step to keep yourself private on the internet is to review your privacy settings on each social platform you use and set them to collect as few data as possible. Also, make sure you don't share private info with strangers.

You can learn more about how to strengthen your privacy on Facebook by going to Settings>Privacy Settings and access the Privacy Basics knowledgebase.


3. Don't store sensitive data on public storage

While cloud storage services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, are extremely helpful because you can access the files you upload from any device, they can also put your private information at risk.

You should never save sensitive data, such as documents with accounts and passwords credentials, bank information, or any other private information on public storage services. If you must save such data, make sure you do it in an encrypted archive.


4. Encrypt your files

An important part of how to protect internet privacy is to add an extra layer of protection to your personal files. You can do this by encrypting your files.

What does this mean? It means no one has access to your files without decrypting them first, which is a challenging activity. When your files are encrypted, the attacker doesn't have access to them even if he manages to get into your computer.

You can encrypt your files by using an encryption software such as GnuPG. The process is a bit time consuming, but it's worth it.


5. Keep backups

There are different types of malware that can manage their ways into your computer. Some malware can delete or alter your private files. A common type of attack, known as ransomware, is when an attacker gets access to your computer through malware and locks your files asking for a ransom to give you back the access. To get back your files, you have to pay the monetary compensation and, even then, you don't have any guarantee you'll receive your access back.

To avoid losing your files because of a hacker attack, you should always keep your important files backed up in multiple places. The best place to back up your data is an offline storage such as an external hard drive. Attackers can't reach a device that's not connected to the internet and your files will be safe.


6. Avoid being tracked

Protecting your privacy online means not leaving many traces that can be followed. Nowadays, all the websites you visit track your online behavior one way or another, mostly so they can further target you with unwanted advertisements.

Targeted advertisements are not necessarily a bad thing because you can't totally run away from ads anyway. The problem is you allow websites to keep a record of your browsing history which is against protecting your privacy online. You don't exactly know what they do with the data they collect, and they can sell them to third parties or even use them maliciously.

To avoid being tracked online, you should review the privacy setting in your browsers to not allow them to log your location. Also, a good practice is to disable the cookies. Be careful what permissions you give to the websites you access. Usually, websites ask for your permission to use your location through pop-ups, and if you live in a European country, websites are now required to ask for your permission to use cookies.


7. Use a secure browser

Some browsers are most secure than others. And some don't offer any privacy at all while some are designed for a private internet browsing. There's a difference between a secure browser and a private one. The best example here is Google Chrome. This browser is extremely secure, but it offers no privacy as it collects lots of data about you.

It's best to use a browser that will give you both security and privacy when surfing online. A great example of one of the best anonymous browsers is Tor. But there are various privacy browsers out there you can take into consideration.

We put together a list of the best browsers for security and privacy. Take a look and see which one is the best for your needs.


8. Install add-ons to strengthen your online privacy and security

Some browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, allow the installation of add-ons. And there are a couple of add-ons that will protect your online privacy and security on such browsers.

A couple of great add-ons examples are HTTPS Everywhere, Adblock, Privacy Badger, Cookie Autodelete, Decentraleyes, uMatrix, NoScript.

Now don't go running into installing all the add-ons you can find as too many add-ons will make your browser more vulnerable to malware. Also, some add-ons can have disguised malware themselves, so take caution.


9. Switch to an encrypted email service

If a hacker gets access to your email address, he will be able to read all your email exchanges. This can pose a real danger especially if you manage business work or other important duties over emails.

To make sure your emails email private, you can use a dedicated software designed to encrypt your emails. Two examples of software that do a great job at encrypting emails are Lockbin and OpenPGP.


10. Don't make your contact information public

Many platforms ask for your contact information in order to allow your access to the website. This information includes emails and phone numbers. Part of how to have privacy on the internet is to never leave your contact information public

Each time you register to a website, make sure your email and phone number are not left public.

Remember to also review the information on social media platforms like Facebook and make sure you set up your contact information to private.


11. Use alternative emails

We often register to certain websites out of curiosity. There are websites that won't allow your access until you provide an email so, if you want to see what the website is about, you have to do as they please.

The problem is that you often know nothing about the websites and what they will do with your information. You can end up by being spammed with emails, having your information sold to third parties, or even have your email used maliciously.

When you come across websites you're not sure you can trust, don't provide your main email address. instead, keep an alternative email address to use on suspicious websites.


12. Use strong passwords

Weak passwords are easily broken and they do nothing to protect your private data. To increase your privacy online, always use hard to break passwords that follow the below guides:

  • They are long (minimum 12 characters)
  • Use capital letters and symbols
  • Use different passwords for each account
  • Use a password manager software, such as LastPass, so you make it easy to keep track of all your passwords

Never save your usernames and passwords in unencrypted files on your computer or on cloud storage services as you expose them to any hacker that manages to get access to your computer. A password manager software is the most secure way to keep this kind of info private.


13. Be careful with messaging apps

The most secure messaging apps use end-to-end encryption. This means that only you and the receiver can see the messages shared between you two and nobody else gets access to the data.

A lot of messaging apps use an in transit encryption. This means the messages are decrypted by the app provider and the data is stored on its servers.

For example, WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption. Other apps, such as Facebook messenger, do not use this type of encryption by default, but you can start a secret chat that will be encrypted.


14. Give alternative services a chance

The most popular services are also the ones collecting the most private data about their users. If you want to have more privacy on the internet, you should give alternative services a try.

For example, you can use Crypto.cat or Pidgin.im for chatting instead of Facebook Chat. These apps will encrypt your messages so you can have a private conversation. Another example is Tresorit, which is a cloud storage service with built-in end-to-end encryption you can use instead of Google Drive.


15. Review the permission you allow to apps

You've probably noticed that when you install an app on your phone, it will ask for your permission to access various data on the device. These permissions can be anything from accessing your contacts and files to using the camera, microphone, location and so on.

While some apps require these permissions so they can work, many exploit the access to your data to profile you for marketing purposes (or even for malicious actions).

This behavior is also common with browser extensions.

Always review the permissions you give to the apps you install and try not to install apps or browser extensions if you don't really need them.


16. Secure your devices

To protect your privacy from snoopers, a good practice is to keep all your devices protected by using a password. It doesn't have to be an extra complicated password, but one that will keep unwanted eyes away from your personal files.

On mobile devices, it's best to use six-digits PINs or passwords instead of screen lock patterns.


17. Keep all the software up to date

Outdated software reveals vulnerabilities hackers can exploit to make their way into your computer. One of the crucial online security tips is to always update every piece of software to the latest available version.

The pieces of software you should keep an eye on include the operating system, the antivirus program, the browsers, and the firewall. With each new update, these services increase their security protocols and get rid of any security bugs. Not to mention, new malware is constantly developed, so programs, such as antivirus programs, are always bettering their database to detect more and more possible threats.

The most popular types of malware are spread through emails and malicious websites. An important step on how to protect yourself online so your computer does not get infected with malware is to always be cautious about the websites you visit and the links you click on.

If you receive emails from suspicious sources, don't click on the links they contain and don't download the attachments. You should know that some types of malware can get into your computer only from just opening an infected email.

Often, malware is also hidden in files you can download over the internet. These files are designed to look useful for the users when, in reality, they will infect the computer with malware as soon as the file is launched.


19. Install an antivirus program

To avoid getting your computer infected with malware, you must use an antivirus program. Actually, you should never surf the internet without such a program installed on your computer.

A good antivirus program will scan all the files you download over the internet, and even the USB drives you plug in, and will detect if there's a malware hidden in the files. This will prevent you from launching a file that could've turned you into a malicious attack victim.


20. Get a firewall

Enabling a firewall is also one of the crucial cybersecurity tips if you want to protect your computer from malware attacks.

A firewall examines all the traffic exchanged between your computer and the internet and decides what packets of data to let in or out based on a set of established security rules. The firewall is an important shield between your computer and the internet. If there's any suspicious or unsecured traffic coming to your computer, the firewall will block its access, preventing malicious attacks.


21. Stay private on WiFi networks

Public WiFi networks are the most dangerous types of connections. Because public WiFis are heavily used (making them vulnerable) and anyone gets access to them, they are a preferred place for hackers to phish their victims. There are lots of ways hackers can exploit public WiFis to get into your computer, putting your privacy and security at risk.

If you often use public WiFi networks in coffee shops, hotels, airports, and so on, a VPN service is your best guard against malicious attacks.

A reliable VPN service will assure a secure connection that's safe to use as it will encrypt all the data you exchange over the internet and will make you anonymous on the network.

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