In 2023, online privacy suffered a devastating blow. Over 156 million Americans had their private and personal data compromised in 1,393 data breaches within the first six months alone. While most people would dread the nightmare of their private healthcare data being exposed, everyday data leaks and compromises are also a concern.
The more personal details scammers and fraudsters possess, the easier it becomes for them to hack your accounts, steal your identity, and deceive you. While maintaining a “private life” online is becoming increasingly challenging, it is not impossible. Here are the steps you can take for online privacy protection.
Tips for Protect Personal Information
1. Check App Permissions
Personal data implications also arise from mobile apps. Numerous apps require users to grant specific permissions (such as access to contacts, photos, and GPS location) to download them. In many instances, these permissions are unrelated to the app’s functionality.
A recommended practice is to access the permissions settings for each app after downloading it and choose not to grant permissions that make you uncomfortable. This should be done for both new apps and those you already have.
2. Use Security-Friendly Browsers
To improve online privacy, there are several browsers, mainly Brave and Tor. Tor sites are easily recognized and can restrict access to their content. Although Brave security is an order of magnitude better than standard Chrome or Safari, it is still not perfect. If you have a question, about whether is Brave browser safe – you are on the right track. You can check out the safety of Brave browser study from VeePN. They highlight potential risks and possible ways to improve the situation. If you use the Brave browser in combination with additional security tactics, you can significantly improve your online privacy.
3. Don’t Overshare on Social Media
One of our friends tends to overshare personal details online. Excessive sharing not only creates annoyance but also increases the risk of exposing our personal information. Make sure to review your privacy settings, so you know who sees your posts. Additionally, exercise caution while disclosing your location, hometown, birthday, or any other personal information.
4. Strengthen Your Authorization Methods
Add passwords or passcodes to all your devices now, including guest accounts, to maintain improved speed and performance over time. To secure your accounts with stronger passwords, follow these steps:
- Use a secure password manager to store your passwords. Ensure that you use strong and unique passwords for your online accounts.
- Activate two-factor authentication (2FA). This additional security measure can protect you even if you’ve shared your password with hackers through a phishing scam.
- Configure your devices to automatically lock when not in use. Even with a strong password, hackers can bypass it if your device doesn’t lock automatically.
5. Think Twice
People constantly request your data, both online and in person. It is important to question why they need it, who will utilize it, and for what purpose. Keep in mind that the Internet retains information indefinitely, making it challenging to control its fate once it is out there. Always consider the potential impact that your comments or images may have on your reputation and that of others.
6. Use Encryption
Computer data, texts, and emails may appear secure, but that assumption can be misleading. Encryption plays a vital role in safeguarding your information, scrambling it until a decryption key or password is used. This security measure becomes crucial when protecting against cybercriminals attempting to steal your hard drive, intercept text messages, or lure you into providing information on fraudulent websites.
Here’s what you can do to enhance your privacy:
- Enable encryption on your computer to render data incomprehensible to unauthorized individuals. Modern Apple and Android devices feature default encryption settings.
- Opt for messaging apps with end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal.
- Before selling or recycling devices, make sure to wipe their contents entirely and restore them to factory settings. Erasing all data prevents any personal information from being compromised.
7. Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Adjustable privacy settings are common in mobile devices, browsers, sites, apps, and other web-enabled items like video games and cameras. Devices grant control over various aspects, including location tracking and screen locks. Browsers empower users to manage cookies and pop-ups, while apps and websites, particularly social media sites, enable users to determine the visibility of their personal information. Regularly review and modify your privacy settings as they may change over time. Avoid relying solely on default settings.
8. Watch Out for Links and Attachments
Sneaky cybercriminals often design their phishing scams to mimic authentic communications from banks, utility companies, or other corporate entities. Spelling errors or an email address different from the usual sender may indicate that the email is spam.
You have control over protecting your online privacy with numerous steps you can take. Fortunately, most of these steps are within your control. An important step is to limit what you share and instruct companies about treating your data. However, you can rely on a digital security and identity theft solution to handle this task for you.