Staying safe and keeping your data protected is more important than ever. Follow these online privacy and security tips to make sure your privacy remains private.
Are you worried about how much of your personal life and private data is out on the internet, vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals? You aren’t alone. Online privacy and security and becoming top of the mind for the vast majority of Americans on the Internet. 74% of respondents to a recent survey stated they were “more alarmed than ever about privacy.”
Trust in private companies has taken a nosedive in regards to how they handle personal data. And, governments across the world have proven time and time again that they don’t have much regard for personal data.
Surveillance has become commonplace across the globe and the rise of data as a commodity is leading to more and more breaches of sensitive information.
The best line of defense is a sound privacy strategy and the good news is that there are plenty of tools and tips to keep yourself and your personal information safe online.
Chances are, you don’t want people seeing every website you visit, everything you download and what you have searched if that data is ever breached.
The internet is full of vulnerability points that depend on how you use it. What browser you use has a huge impact on your online privacy and security as do you social media practices, password management and VPN decisions.
Follow these simple privacy and security tips to stay safe online and keep your personal data (and sanity) for yourself.
Your privacy is precious.
7 Tips for better privacy and security online
1. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) on your important accounts
Most major websites that deal with sensitive information are evolving to put privacy first, or at a minimum, consider it important. In doing so, they are either forcing or at least suggesting, a form of two-factor authentication for accounts. This type of password backup forces you the user to confirm your identity by two factors instead of just one. The first is almost always your password. Here’s how to create a strong password. The second authentication or form of proving you are really you is usually linked to a mobile device so that you must confirm via an SMS message that it’s you logging in. Another form would be using an authenticator app.
Always use 2FA when possible.
2. Clear yourself from data brokers
Data brokers collect, package, buy and sell your personal data and that of millions of other people. Data is a commodity and the reason why many of the leading web services such as Google and Facebook are able to remain free to users (they use your data to profit!) It’s important to delete your information from data brokers in order to take back control of your privacy. Follow these steps on how to remove yourself from data broker sites. It can be a lengthy process manually deleting yourself from each one, but it’s worth the hassle. (of course you can sign up for Privacy Bee Pro and let us do the heavy lifting.)
3. Use secure messaging services
Secure messaging services are a great way to ensure no one is spying on your personal messages, whether you have something to hide or now. It’s important to consider that past messages could always come back to bite you in the future, and even if they don’t, it isn’t right that some messaging services retain control and a history of your privacy messages — especially when there are better options out there. Signal is our top choice, but you can see our list of the best secure messaging apps here.
4. Use a VPN, especially in public
VPNs or virtual private networks, allow you to hide your IP address and also encrypt your data and connection while browsing the web from your computer or mobile device. These devices are growing in popularity as the services themselves become faster and stronger as well. VPNs encrypt data as it comes out of your computer and against at the host network (virtual) to ensure that there is no way for anyone to take a peek at what you are transmitting, even when it’s across public Wi-Fi, although we strongly advise against every using public Wi-Fi in the first place.
5. Scan your emails for breaches
One of the first things you should do when starting to clean up your data is scan the internet for any data breaches or password leaks connected to your name or accounts. Privacy Bee features a free privacy evaluation that scans the internet to determine where your data has been exposed, which email passwords have been leaked and how much of your personal information is out there. This will likely give you a wake-up call. At a minimum motivate you to change your password and ensure that each individual account has a strong and unique password.
6. Choose the right web browser and search engine
Your choices of web browser and search engine have a huge impact on how your browsing history and if your data is exposed. Certain web browsers allow third-party cookies to track your browsing habits for marketing purposes. Certain search engines retain records of all of your search and browsing history. Two of the best web browser options that are both secure and non-invasive are Brave and Tor. For privacy-focused search engines, try DuckDuckGo or MetaGer.
7. Clean up your smartphone
Adjust permissions on your phone to take back control of what apps have access to your data. Put limits on what apps should really have access to location tracking, photos, contact, your microphone and more. Double-check that there is nothing fishy going on.
To access these settings on an iPhone: Settings > Privacy > Location Services and more
To access these settings on an Android: Settings > Biometrics and security > App permissions > Location