7 Steps You Can Take to Increase Your Online Privacy

Data breaches, security attacks, retargeting ads, photo thefts, and many other similar activities – the list of digital annoyances doesn’t seem to end.

In fact, online services have integrated themselves so seamlessly with our lives that we hardly realize that our online privacy is at stake.

From important financial details to passwords, personal information like name, phone number, or social security number – we all tend to store a lot online.

However, did you know that even your browsing activity can be tracked and used to gain specific information on your tastes, preferences and current life situation? This information is collected, analyzed and then sold to private companies that use it for direct marketing, target advertising, and even for assessing creditworthiness.

But the good news is that you can regain the lost control over our privacy with a few simple steps. Here is how you can take care of your privacy online.

Secure Your Passwords

You need a password for logging into any account, whether it is Facebook or your bank account. Thus, a bit of diligence when choosing a password can keep you safe on the web.

Ideally, a password should be at least 8 to 10 characters long with a mix of small and caps letters, numbers, and symbols. Moreover, you should never use the same password for more than one account.

If you have trouble remembering different passwords, you can try the password manager services offered by many companies which come along with anti-malware software. Also, avoid saving your passwords on mobile or laptop for increased security.

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 Get a VPN

A VPN or Virtual Private Network keeps you anonymous by routing your traffic through a secured tunnel. It masks and hides your IP and replaces it with one of their servers’ so that even your internet service provider wouldn’t be able to track and locate you.

This provides you with anonymous access to the web. Thus, with a VPN, you can browse the internet without leaving any digital footprints.

In addition to keeping you anonymous, a top of the line VPN can also keep you safe and protected from prying eyes, third-parties, and mischievous WiFi hotspots.

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Manage Your Privacy Settings on Social Websites

All social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have privacy settings. These settings are constantly updated to accommodate different users’ preferences. Make sure that you select correct privacy settings so that the information you share on these websites is visible only to the people you want to see it.

If you leave the settings at their default option, you will end up sharing a ton of personal information not only with your friends but rather with the whole world.

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Get Security Software

One of the biggest threats to online privacy comes through hackers who indulge in phishing activities to gain access to sensitive personal details. A simple way to prevent these hackers from loading any malware on to your device is to install security software. Such software automatically gives you a warning when accessing rogue websites and restricts downloading spyware.

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Use a Proxy

While a VPN is a much better option, you can also try browsing the web through a proxy server. A proxy service lets you gain access to websites anonymously by hiding your IP address. However, unlike an anonymous VPN, a proxy does not offer multiple layers of security. Proxy servers can also slow down the internet connection but are nevertheless better than having no protection at all.

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Control App Permissions

More often than not, when you download an app on your smartphone, it first asks for a series of permissions such as permission to access your location, your galleries, and the like. While not all the apps can be dangerous, it’s still advisable to carefully read what permissions an app is asking for rather than permitting it to record all your data.

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Keep Your IP Secure

An anonymous VPN and a proxy website both serve a similar purpose. They protect the IP address to secure your online privacy. However, a VPN secures all of your internet access while proxy only secures your web browser or torrent client. When choosing a VPN provider, it’s advised to check if it has a no-logs policy.

If you are not using a VPN or proxy, there are various other ways you can keep your IP secure. The most important thing to remember is that IP addresses are never secure while accessing the web through a public connection such as an open public WiFi. Therefore, avoid using public connections to access sensitive information online.

Further, if you feel that your IP address is being monitored, you can ask your internet service provider to change your IP address. Alternately, you can just shut off your modem for a few hours to automatically get a fresh IP address.

Your Turn

These were a few simple steps that can help you maintain your online privacy. How do you take care of your privacy online? Let us know in the comments below.

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