13 Strong Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online

13 Strong Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online

Learning how to protect your online privacy is the key to a safe and secured online experience.

We use the internet for so many activities nowadays that it is crucial to know how to protect our privacy so we prevent having our information exploited for malicious acts.

Cybercriminals have various ways of stealing one's private information and use it for their own gain. Cyber attacks, fraud, identity theft, stolen money. These are only a couple of examples of the dangers we can fall victim to. And even companies tracking our online activities can pose a risk of having our data exposed and misused.

In this post, we'll go over how to protect your privacy online so you don't fall victim to the risks that come with using the internet.


Who is tracking you?

You leave your footprints wherever you go online. Posting on Facebook, searching for a query, visiting a website. Any of these actions can be traced back to your real identity if you don't take any action to protect your privacy online. The following people can monitor your online activity:

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider)

When you register for an internet service to a certain ISP, you are assigned an IP address. Because of the IP address, the ISP knows your real identity and location. Moreover, the ISP knows about all your online activity: what you browse online, what websites you visit, what browser you use, what files you download, and much more. This shouldn't necessarily be a concern. The ISP will only go through this data if the government demands the information. Still, you can get the feeling your privacy is violated when an entity knows everything about you and your online behavior.

Advertisers

Your online browsing behavior and personal information is most valuable for advertisers because this data helps them target you with personalized ads based on your browsing habits. Companies collect data about users, then sell and trade them with advertisers without you having no idea about it.

Hackers

Hackers and cybercriminals use dedicated tools to steal people's private information and use it for their own gain. If they collect enough information about you, they are able to steal your identity and use it to purchase items, apply for credit cards in your name or steal your money.

Your employer

Lots of employers monitor their employees' online activity to see what they are up to while at work. While their intention is to make sure the employees are productive at work, knowing your boss knows every move you make might make you feel violated.

The government

There's no secret that the government likes to keep an eye on one's every move. And even if they don't log your online activity directly, they have the power to request everything about your online behavior and personal information from other companies like your ISP, Google, or social media platforms.


1. Use passwords for everything

One of the most important aspects of protecting your online privacy and personal data is to make sure all your accounts are secured by strong passwords.

Using weak passwords makes it easy for hackers and cybercriminals to guess them and gain access to your accounts. And if this happens, cybercriminals will then be able to get their hands on all your sensitive information, including your credit card and bank information, placing you at the risk of having your money or identity stolen.

The passwords you're using should be at least 10 characters long, contain numbers and special characters, and you should never use the same password twice. If handing multiple passwords seem like a lot of work, then you should know about passwords managers app that will make remembering all your passwords a no hassle process.

Learn more about how to create the strongest passwords and how to keep track of them with a password manager app.


2. Protect your devices against viruses

A not protected device can be easily get infected with different types of malware. While some viruses are not so dangerous and you can easily get rid of them, some can put your privacy and security at risk.

For example, if a hacker manages to install a keylogger on your device, he will be able to track all the keystrokes you hit on your keyboard. This means he'll get to know your usernames and passwords and get access to your accounts. This also gives the hacker the opportunity to find out your banking information and other sensitive data.

If your device is not protected, it can get infected with viruses and malware only by clicking on the wrong link when surfing online. That's why it is highly important you install antivirus software on all your devices and make sure you keep it updated. A good antivirus will secure your devices against many types of malware.


3. Use secure browsers

Not all browsers are equal when it comes to protecting your online privacy. Some browses log most of your online activities, which means that you're not anywhere near having a private online experience.

For example, Google Chrome is well known for tracking all their users' online activities. From the browsing history to the location, devices used, and much more information that you probably never thought is being tracked. Their intention for tracking your online activity is to learn more about your preferences so they can offer you a better and a more personalized online experience. But knowing that a company knows everything you do online might make you feel your privacy is being trespassed. And while Chrome gives you the options to control what they can track, questions still remain regarding if they really stop on logging anything.

If you want to protect your online privacy when surfing the internet, there are more browsers designed with the users' privacy in mind. Some of them keep you anonymous online by not tracking anything about your online activity, while some give you total control over the data you want to share.

We analyzed the most secure browsers out there. Take a look over our article and find which is the best browser for your needs.


4. Deactivate the autofill option

While the autofill option in browsers can make our lives easier by not having to remember and type our credentials each time we log into an account, it can also put our online privacy and security at risk.

If someone manages to get inside your device, either by installing malware or by actually stealing the device, he'll also be able to log in to your accounts automatically because your browser saved all the credentials needed. Doing so will result in your private data being stolen or, worst, becoming a victim of identity theft.

To avoid having your accounts compromised, you should give up the habit of letting your browser save your account credentials. If you still want the commodity of not having to type your username and password with each login, you should know that some password manager apps have the feature of filling in the credentials for you. This makes for a safe and easy way to secure your accounts.


5. Use only HTTPS websites

For your online privacy and security, you should always avoid accessing HTTP websites.

The regular HTTP protocol does not encrypt the information that travels between the browser and the server, making the data to be easily stolen. On the other hand, HTTPS protocols use an SSL certificate which creates a secure and encrypted connection, protecting your sensitive information from being stolen while it's transferred between the browser and the server.

The layer of security the HTTPS protocol adds it is extremely important, especially on websites that use your most sensitive data such as credit card information.

Each time you access a website, make sure it is an HTTPS by checking its URL. Also, look for the lock icon next to the address bar. You should be extra careful especially when shopping online, checking your bank account, transferring money, or when filling your credit card information on a website.


6. Always log out from your accounts

You probably have accounts you never log out from because you're checking them on a regular basis and it's more convenient not having to log in multiple times a day (Facebook might be one of them).

This behavior of letting your accounts logged in at all times might pose a risk for your online privacy and security. Same as with saving your accounts credentials into your browser, if someone manages to get access to your device and you're logged in into accounts that reveal private information about you, a mal-intended person will get all he needs to steal your money and identity without having to move a muscle.

Make a habit of logging out of your accounts each time you're done with the session. By getting used to this, you'll also make sure you'll never forget to log out if you ever log in to your accounts from another device rather than your own. After all, logging in only takes a couple of seconds and it goes a long way on protecting your privacy and security online.


7. Try other search engines

The most popular search engines are also the ones that store the most private information about their users. They do this so they give better search results and target users with personalized advertisements. In theory, this makes for a better online experience. But it also means your online activities are not private at all.

If you don't want your browsing history being tracked by the search engines, one option is to use the Incognito (Private) Mode. While this will prevent search engines from saving your browsing history, they'll still track some data about your online searching.

The best way to protect your privacy online on search engines is to use a search engine designed not to track anything about its users' activities.

The best example of such a search engine is DuckDuckGo. By using the DuckDuckGo search engine you can search privately without having your online activity tracked. They also offer a browser extension and a browser app for mobile devices.


8. Use social media with caution

Social media platforms are among the greatest risks when it comes to online privacy. You can easily overshare private information on social media without thinking about it.

You might think that you're only sharing information with your friends when, in reality, if something is on social media, anyone is able to find it one way or another.

It's time to do a quick review of your social media profiles and make sure you don't let any personal information out in the open. For example, you should never allow private information such as your email, phone number, or address to be visible on your profile. Also, review which of your posts are set on public or only visible to friends. You should keep in mind that even if the things you share are set to display only for the people in your friends' list, friends of your friends and even friends of those friends might be able to see them.

The next time you share something on Facebook or other social media profile, first think about if you're giving away too much information. Even oversharing your location and letting people know you're out of town can pose a privacy and security risk.


9. Don't give away just any information

Social media is not the only place online where you can be oversharing private information that will put your privacy and security at risk.

You should be cautious with the information you share anywhere in the online world.

For example, when you're creating a new account on a platform, think for a minute if you should fill in all the personal information they require. Do they really need that information? Can you trust the platform with your personal data?

You should be especially cautious about where you give away your credit card information. Only use trustworthy platforms and companies for online shopping and services that require online payments.

Needless to say, never give away personal information to someone over the internet.


10. Avoid getting scammed

Hackers and cybercriminals don't only use malware to steal peoples' information. They also have methods that rely on them using their own charisma to trick you into giving them private information. This tactic is known as social engineering.

The most common social engineering technique is phishing and it often occurs via email. Someone sends a fake email impersonating a trustworthy company and asking you to provide some kind of personal information such as your username and password or credit card information. In many cases, this method is used to steal people's bank account information, so the email is likely to show as coming from your bank.

Stay cautious about the emails you open and keep in mind that reliable companies and services will never ask you to provide personal information via emails.

To avoid being tricked into giving a hacker or cybercriminal your personal information and having your money or identity stolen, you should learn about the technique hackers use to scam people.


11. Use only secure WiFi networks

Public WiFi networks are a hazard for online privacy. They are not secured, they are heavily used making them weaker, and they can be easily hacked by cybercriminals.

Actually, hackers often use public WiFi networks to steal peoples' private information and money. They have various tactics to exploit public WiFi spots such as hacking the network or setting up a fake WiFi network that seems like coming from a genuine place.

You should never use a public WiFi network for actions that require private information a hacker could easily interfere and steal the information. You should avoid logging in to your accounts, checking your email, or transferring money in public places. Especially without using a VPN service.

Learn more about the risks of using public WiFi networks as it's crucial to be aware of them if you want to protect your privacy online.


12. Use a VPN

You probably heard about VPN services before. And you also probably heard misconceptions about VPNs such as that only criminals and people that have something to hide are using VPNs to cover their tracks. In reality, everyone should use a VPN service at least for a part of their online activities.

How does a VPN protect your online privacy? Well, A VPN changes your real IP address, hence hiding your real location. Also, all the information that's being transferred between your device and the internet is encrypted so even if someone manages to get access to your online activity, they won't be able to read it.

Moreover, by using a VPN you can

  • Protect your privacy online easily and safely
  • Safely use public WiFi networks without worrying about your information being stolen
  • Stop your ISP from tracking your online activities
  • Unblock geo-restricted content
  • Find better deals when shopping online

DrSoft provides a VPN service that uses strong encryption to give you the online privacy you deserve when surfing the internet. Because we value your privacy, we don't keep any logs of your online activities so you have an anonymous online experience.


13. Be wary about the software you download

We often download pieces of software online to help us enhance our digital experience. All you have to do when in need of a software is going on Google, conduct the search, and find a place to download the software from.

As easy as finding a software is nowadays, it's also easy to download a software containing hidden malware. Once you download the malicious software and run it on your device, your computer will get infected with malware which will open up a door for cybercriminals to steal your private information.

Be extremely wary when downloading something from the internet. Make sure the website you are downloading from is reliable. Also, you should always run the files you download over the internet through antivirus software before you click to open them so you make sure they are not infected with malware.


Conclusion

Because the technology is part of our everyday life and we use it for various activities from sharing photos with our peers to online shopping and checking our bank accounts, protecting our privacy online should be one of our main concerns.

The most important takeaways to protect your privacy online are:

  • Limit the amount of personal information you share online.
  • Use strong passwords for your accounts to keep your sensitive data private.
  • Use antivirus software to prevent your devices from getting infected with viruses and other types of malware.
  • Be wary about the websites you visit online and make sure they are secured by an HTTPS protocol.
  • Learn about the social engineering techniques hackers use to trick people into giving them private information.
  • Keep in mind that public WiFis are extremely risky when it comes to online privacy and security.
  • Use a VPN service to make you anonymous online and protect your online privacy.

Protect your online privacy online by following these guidelines and have a safe and secured online experience.

Diana Soare