How To Protect Your Privacy Online

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If you are looking for tips on how to protect your privacy online look no further. 

 

NetReputation is here to walk you through everything.

 

Have you ever felt like your personal information is at arm’s reach from an online cybercriminal? 

 

Well, unfortunately, you are probably right to feel like that.

In 2020, identity theft and online crimes are on the rise. With over 3 million cases of identity theft in 2019, your information may be more exposed to hackers than you may think.

 

Aside from paid tools such as password managers and private browsing protection software, there are numerous other ways for those wondering how to protect online privacy.

 

Online accounts are more vulnerable than you would expect. Facebook accounts are hacked into at uncountable rates, most of which go undetected and the user never knows.

 

Until it’s too late.

 

After years of working online, we were able to compile a list of 17 things you can do to improve your security levels online and make sure your personal information stays private.

 

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LIMIT INFORMATION GIVEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

In this digital age, everyone wants to take part in the most trendy and up-to-date social platform. First, we saw the emergence of Myspace then years later we saw Facebook open to everyone not only college students. 

 

Now we have Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many more at our disposal. It is imperative that you learn how to protect your privacy online before your information falls into the wrong hands.

 

If you are new to social media it is important that you carefully read and reread the terms of service and condition of each platform. Many users tend to complain about retargeting efforts and feeling a sense of vulnerability for their personal information being at risk.

 

When creating your social media profiles, avoid including information such as your phone number, email, or birthday in your bio. This opens a gateway for those from the dark web to easily gain access to your personal information. Keep it short and simple, include a hobby instead and maybe some emojis to spice it up.

 

If someone you know wants your personal information all they have to do is ask. But again, avoid giving anything away for free to any random person that could be scouring each social site.

 

STOP GIVING PERSONAL INFORMATION TO ANYONE ASKING

There are many enticing offers on the internet that promise free gifts or trials in exchange for your personal information such as your name, email, and phone number.

 

Unless you are extremely interested in this service we advise against you giving over any information before knowing exactly what it will be used for.

 

Although nearly all of these websites are honest about their intentions, there are several sites online that may sell your contact information for monetary gain to local vendors or other online entities.

 

Instead, you can call them first, hear them out and directly ask for the purpose of them collecting your information. From this point on, you can make an educated decision on whether or not to disclose such info.

 

Most of the time, the information you give is used for marketing purposes, to alert you of any new products, or to simply follow up to see if you are still interested in buying anything.

 

We always recommend that you create another email address apart from the main email that you can use to submit to websites. This way your primary inbox is not flooded with unsolicited emails.

 

Inbox full of spam how to protect your privacy online

 

 

PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER FILES

Have you ever purchased a laptop or computer from BestBuy or any other technology store? There is a reason they always try to upsell security protection software for your computer.

 

As most individuals believe, security protection is not such a big deal and their computers can go unharmed as long as they visit protected websites and ensure safe browsing practices

 

As good as this sounds, it couldn’t be further from the truth!

 

There are protection software plans you can purchase online to ensure your information, as well as your computer, go unharmed (click here to see your options)

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY ONLINE WITH INCOGNITO BROWSERS

If you are not familiar yet with how to protect your privacy online by using Incognito browsers, you are missing out. 

 

Incognito browsers are a way to search online without websites embedding a cookie on your computer. In other words, you generate no cache or “bread trail” for your search history.

 

If you are like most and use Google Chrome as your browser of choice, simply pressing ctrl+shift+n will open a new window for you. This is your Incognito browser.

 

One added benefit to using the Incognito browser is that you can access email addresses and social media accounts at the same time. Because cookies aren’t shared between normal and Incognito windows in Chrome, you can use Incognito to log into a second account or any website.

 

Incognito is essentially camouflaging you online.

 

How to protect online privacy by going incognito

 

 

HOW TO PROTECT ONLINE PRIVACY BY USING VARIOUS PASSWORDS

This may seem like a no brainer, however, you would be surprised by how many individuals utilize the exact same password for every single login they have.

 

Why is this bad? 

 

For starters, if you give out your password and cybercriminals hack into your account, they will now have access to basically everything you control.

 

One easy tip is to keep a Google Sheets or Word Excel Spreadsheet in an encrypted file on your computer where you can store all your passwords.

 

There are various password generators in almost all app stores that will generate a new password every time you log in. This is a sure way to ensure your passwords are never exposed to a third party.

 

TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

While searching on your preferred web browser, there are various tools at your disposal to confirm if it is actually you logging into any of the accounts that you own.

 

Facebook, for example, allows its users to implement two-factor authentication. This basically sends you an SMS or text message every time you attempt to log in prompting you with a 6 digit access code. Without entering this code into your computer you will be unable to visit that website or social platform.

 

Two-factor authentication typically changes the 6 digit codes every 30-60 seconds to ensure further security measures just in case someone is watching you.

 

UTILIZING GOOGLE ALERTS

If you visit our blog articles often you are probably already aware of the massive benefits that come from using Google Alerts. This easy to implement tool by Google allows you to track keywords online.

 

This is a great way not only for keeping tabs on when your name is mentioned online but also for topics you are fond of.

 

We highly recommend that you head over to Google Alerts now, sign up with your Gmail account and track your full name. This way, anytime something new is published on the internet referencing your name you will receive an email notification immediately.

 

Google Alerts covers all search engine tools and social network platforms.

 

Google alerts on phone screen

 

 

PRIVATE SOCIAL ACCOUNTS VERSUS PUBLIC

It may come as a no brainer that you would want to turn on the privacy settings for all the social media accounts that you manage. Many sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow users to request access to view the content you publish.

 

If you are not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to protect your privacy online by enabling your privacy settings just head over to YouTube and type in “how to make my Facebook private”. 

 

YouTube will prompt you with hundreds and hundreds of videos with step-by-step tutorials showing you the exact steps that you must take.

 

How To Make Your Facebook Completely Private (WATCH NOW)

 

By enabling your private settings correctly, you are one step closer to working safely online.

 

WHAT TO LEAVE OUT WHEN PAYING WITH CREDIT CARDS

Many stores will regularly request information when you are making a purchase such as requesting your zip code for billing purposes.

 

As directed by Forbes Magazine, try not to offer it to them except if you need to give your subtleties to their showcasing database.

 

By disclosing your name, email, and address including your zip code, you are giving potential cybercriminals all the ammunition they need to mine more information about you online.

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SECURITY QUESTIONS

This subheading may be a little misleading if you are looking for ways to protect your privacy online. When we say “choose the right security questions” we are not referring to the best options that apply to you or the ones which may be the easiest to remember.

 

What we mean, is picking those questions that could potentially throw someone off their trail if they are seeking to expose your personal information or “hacking” into an account you control.

 

By selecting the right security questions we will need to revert back to the password sheet we instructed you to make a few tips prior to this.

 

This way, you can create random answers to the most far-out questions available. As long as you track the answers properly within your encrypted spreadsheet it is virtually impossible for someone to guess the correct answer.

 

Man in front of key window surrounded by question marks about protecting his online privacy

 

 

HOW TO PROTECT PRIVACY ONLINE BY STOPPING WIFI FRAUDS

As you may already know, once you connect with a particular WiFi router you will always have access even if you leave for a year and come back to the same location (as long as the password did not change).

 

This is a great feature because nobody wants to re-enter their WiFi password day after day, especially in their own home.

 

In this day and age hackers are able to create fictitious WiFi accounts with enticing names such as “Free Wifi” in order to get your devices to automatically connect. This is, of course, assuming that you enable auto-connect to WiFi on your smart devices and tablets/laptops.

 

To avoid this, you can either disable the auto-connect feature or routinely wipe your device from connecting you from all WiFi locations you wish.

 

In most cases, you can simply go to settings and delete all of them at once (depending on your device).

 

SHRED MAIL THAT CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOU

Sometimes, the easiest way to gain access to other individuals’ personal information such as their banking records is to go through their trash. Yes, this sounds gross and disgusting but you would be surprised at the number of identity theft reports in 2018 (over 3 Million!).

 

This is why everyone should invest their money into a quality shredder and shred any mail that contains personal information such as this.

 

Having your banking information fall into the wrong hands is a recipe for disaster which can be easily avoided with one trip to Amazon.

 

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MONITOR YOUR CHILDREN’S ONLINE ACTIVITY

If you have children, are you properly supervising their internet habits? 

 

Do you keep tabs on what websites they visit and what kind of information goes where? Probably not.

 

There are many tools you can use online such as DeskTime to track every click your child makes to ensure they are not putting your personal information at risk.

 

In the United States, minors are 50 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft when compared to adults.

 

It is important to keep tabs on your mail, making sure that you recognize everything that is being sent to your house. Keep an eye out for letters from collection agencies, bills or unpaid services, and anything from the IRS.

 

When your child turns 15 you should request a copy of their credit report. This way you can double-check to make sure their information is safe and secured.

 

Children playing on computer tablets not knowing how to protect their privacy online

 

 

SELECTING THE RIGHT SETTINGS ON SMART DEVICES

As you may already be aware the market for Smart Devices is on the rise. 

 

But at what cost? 

 

Not a monetary one, but informational. 

 

If your Alexa device can hear what you’re saying after calling her, who’s to say Amazon, I mean Alexa, cannot hear you 24/7.

 

When it comes to Smart Devices, the companies that create them use Automatic Content Recognition Systems or ACRs that have the ability to transmit data to the company’s analytics in order to better their marketing efforts.

 

You can simply disable this feature by visiting the settings on your Smart Device for the following options and turn them off.

 

  • Live Plus
  • SynPlus
  • And anything containing the words ACR

 

COVERING YOUR LAPTOP CAMERA & MICROPHONE

If you are one of those consumers that think your phone is listening to what you’re saying or your camera is always watching you, this one’s for you.

 

There have been photos of Mark Zuckerberg working on his laptop with a piece of tape covering both the microphone and camera. Although these companies claim they do not spy on you after seeing a mega-mogul like Zuckerberg cover his camera we began to see a spike in security sales and a slight dip in cyber threats.

 

Mark Zuckerberg in a frame protecting his online privacy

 

 

USING A VPN SERVICE (VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK)

Are you familiar with how a virtual private network works and how to protect online privacy with one? VPNs are a way of masking your location when you visit a website.

 

For example, you can download HMA (Hide My Ass) or NordVPN which gives you the ability to alter your IP address temporarily.

 

Although some websites have VPN blockers, we use this on a daily basis and we highly recommend you invest money in a quality VPN (they are cheap).

 

 

USE HTTPS SITES ONLY

Lastly, one of the easiest things you can do when looking for how to protect privacy online while browsing the internet is making sure you are on a website that is secured.

 

How do you know if a website is secured?

 

Well, it’s very simple. In the address bar at the top of the screen, you see the web address (www.+). When a website is unsecured you will see http instead of https followed by the domain name. 

 

In opposition, if the website is secured it will show https.www followed by the domain name. Google Chrome will often display the words “NOT SECURED”. When you are on a website without a Secure Sockets Layer otherwise known as an SSL.

 

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