How to Protect Yourself Online Privacy (17 ways)
How to protect yourself online privacy tips and all. Look no further NetReputation is here to walk you through everything.
Have you ever felt like your personal information is in arms reach of a cybercriminal online? Well, unfortunately, you are probably right. In 2019, identity theft and online crimes are on the rise. With over 3 million cases of identity theft in 2018, 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 ways to protect your private information online. Online accounts are more vulnerable than you would expect. Facebook accounts are hacked into at an uncountable rate most of which go undetected and the user never knows. Until it’s too late.
So 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 instead of simply college students. Now we have Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and many more at our disposal. It is imperative that you protect your information online before it 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 or as if their personal information is at risk.
When creating your social media profiles, avoid including information should as your phone number, email and birthday in your bio. This opens a gateway for those on 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 for any random person to see as they scour each social site.
Stop Giving Personal Information Out to Anyone Who Asks
There are many enticing offers on the internet that promise free gifts or trials for a short period of time 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, you can make an educated decision on whether or not to disclose such info.
Most of the time the information you give are used for marketing purposes to alert you of any new products or simply to follow up to see if you are still interested or have any questions before you buy 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.
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 this is no big deal and as long as they visit protected websites and ensure safe browsing practices their computers will go unharmed. 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)
Use Incognito Browsers
If you are not familiar with what an Incognito browser is it is a way to search online without websites embedding a cookie on your computer or 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.
Incognito is essentially camouflage for you online.
Use a Plethora of Various Passwords
This may seem like a no brainer, however, you would be surprised at 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 or cybercriminal hacks into your account they 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 your passwords.
There are almost various password generators on the app store that will generate a new password every time you log in. This is a sure fire way to ensure your passwords are never exposed to a third party.
While searching on your preferred web browser there are various tools you at your disposal to confirm it is actually you who is logging into any account 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 to not only keep 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 publishing on the internet referencing your name you will receive an email notification immediately.
Google Alerts covers all search engine tools and social network platforms.
Private Social Accounts Versus Public
It may come as a no brainer that you would want to turn on the privacy settings for any and all 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 enable your privacy settings to head over to YouTube and simply 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 safe online.
What To Leave Out When Paying With Credit Cards
Regularly, stores will request information when you are making a purchase such as requesting your zip code for billing purposes.
Try not to offer it to them except if you need to give your subtleties to their showcasing database, as directed by Forbes Magazine.
By disclosing your name, email, and address including your zip code you are giving potential cybercriminal 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 after you read what is to follow. When we say “choose the right security questions” we are not referring to the best options that apply to you or what may be the easiest to remember.
What we mean it what questions can you pick that can potentially throw someone off their trail is they are seeking to expose your personal information or “hack” 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 and as long as you track the answers properly within your encrypted spreadsheet it is virtually impossible for someone to guess the correct answer.
Stop 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 to auto-connect feature or routinely wipe your device from connecting you from any and 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 the way everyone should invest their money into a quality shredder and shred any and all 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.
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 monetary cost 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 who create them use Automatic Content Recognition Systems or ACRs that have the ability to transmit data to the companies 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
- 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 is 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.
Using a VPN Service (Virtual Private Network)
Are you familiar with how a virtual private network works? VPNs are a way of masking your location when you visit a website.
Although some websites have VPN blockers we use it on a daily basis and 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 browsing the internet is making sure you are on a website that is secured.
How do you know if a website is secured you may be asking yourself. 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.www followed by the domain name. In opposition is 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.