The internet started as a communication tool in the 1960s. Today, it influences almost all aspects of our lives. Therefore, it becomes imperative to separate the data we want online from that we don’t. Data privacy is a significant issue, with government agencies, big corporations, cyber security experts, and web developers consistently trying to keep up with it.
While we may see news about numerous cyber-attacks and data breaches all the time, very few of us adopt measures to protect against them. Additionally, users might rely on companies to protect their data. However, as history shows, companies themselves struggle to keep everything safe and sound.
Why should we prioritize data privacy?
In today’s day and age, the data you generate while performing your daily online activities is valuable. Companies may use that data to target specific ads toward you. Sometimes, those ads step over the line, with some ads being labeled as inappropriate. Overall, targeted ads can seem aggressive, to say the least.
The situation gets worse when malicious entities get a hold of that data. Scammers can access your online profiles and promote a Ponzi scheme or ask for money from your friends. Having your bank account details and online shopping information leaked is one of the worst scenarios.
Steps to keep your data privacy intact
People tend to make several mistakes when browsing the web. Try to adopt the following countermeasures to make sure your data remains secure.
1. Using the same simple password
Unfortunately, most people think that strings like “Pass123456” or “Password” might be safe. Keep your passwords strong for all crucial online accounts, and never store them in a Notepad or your computer.
Try to include letters, symbols, and uneven capitalization. You can also use password generators to ensure that you have secure passwords for each account. Store the passwords in a cloud drive or online vault instead of a hard drive.
2. Posting too much online
Most people, especially the younger generation, are so ingrained in social media that they don’t notice the amount of information they share online. Criminals don’t need to tail you when you constantly tell them all about your day-to-day life.
Refrain from posting information that may compromise your private information, like where your house is or which school your kids attend. Whenever you go on a vacation, share your colorful photos and videos after returning home. Verify their identity through a video call or physical ID whenever you interact with people on social media.
3. Connecting to free public Wi-Fi
As most cafes and shops have Wi-Fi, it is tempting to use it to save on your cellular. However, it also exposes your device to potential hackers who may be fishing on the same network.
A secure method is to download VPN apps and connect to remote servers before joining any unknown network. Such tools will act as your digital cloak and encrypt all data you exchange and hide your IP address (preventing location tracking). Therefore, even if malicious actors attempt to snoop on your connection, their loot will be useless.
4. Forgetting two-factor authentication
Logins through a username and password don’t remain secure for long. If your password is compromised, anyone can access your account without your knowledge unless you check your logins every single day.
A proven method to prevent this includes two-factor authentication through email, phone notifications, or text. It notifies you whenever someone else is trying to log into your account. While many people associate it with Google and banking apps, many online services support two-factor authentication.
5. Not checking whether information is reliable
Did you see a job opportunity online that seems too good to be true? Chances are, it probably doesn’t exist. Millions of frauds offer might lure you into putting your money somewhere you probably shouldn’t. In most cases, online scam related to cryptocurrency investment and NFTs is prevalent nowadays.
Moreover, misleading articles and false information gets posted all the time. Yet, you need not fall into the trap. You can confirm any job postings from a company’s HR department. There are websites that you can use to check facts.
6. Not reading privacy policies
Don’t forget to turn down their services if you disagree with the terms. It is more than likely an alternative exists with a much safer and more transparent practice regarding your data.
And that’s all it takes to take back your internet privacy. While it may seem like you have nothing to hide, the fact is that your personal data is valuable and can be used in a variety of ways without your consent or knowledge. By following these effortless tips, you can help protect yourself online and keep your private information just that – private.