Complete privacy on the internet is virtually impossible, and any services that claim to offer it are bending the truth.
However, anyone can improve their privacy online by adapting their on-line habits, like choosing privacy focused on-line services and limiting the volume of information, they store on the internet.
In this privacy internet guide, we’ll show you how to protect internet privacy against threats.
Then take some practical measures to protect your on-line privacy, and thus, keeping personal information safe.
In This Article
- What is Internet Privacy?
- Online Security vs. Online Privacy
- Internet Behavior That Affects Your Privacy
- Top 10 Online Privacy Tips
What is Internet Privacy?
Most internet users would probably agree that it is in their best interest to have some information for their self on the web. Then why is internet privacy protection such a controversial issue?
The lack of privacy it is not necessarily bad. Many popular products and services on the internet are built on the collection of data about individuals, and their use makes for convenience.
Many of the most popular products and services on the internet are based on the massive collection and use of data about people and they’re used to add convenience.
Large companies, who collect user data such as social networking platforms (Facebook) and Google among others, are strong advocates against privacy. Their entire business models are built on the gathering and processing of as much data as is possible.
It is unfortunate companies such as Facebook and Google have a massive user base and it is very difficult to persuade people to use alternatives that are more privacy friendly.
Although the best thing for consumers is to be in control of their data and the ways it is used.
Although privacy has only recently made its way to the mainstream media, it is viewed as a niche subject, which is only accessible to technically savvy people.
There are less popular products and services available, but these do focus on people’s privacy and some are very easy to use.
Online Security vs. Online Privacy
On-line security and privacy are intimately related, but in fact, they are rather different. One service can be quite secure, but it may not be private at all.
Privacy on the internet relates to a scenario where you, or your data, are free from observation or interference by other people.
This is where the control over who may access your data takes on a major role. If you wish to have genuine privacy, you will need to control who may access your personal information.
Security is about securing and blocking unwelcome individuals from acquiring your data.
Whilst privacy is about keeping undesirable eyes away from certain data, security is keeping information confidential once it has been collected.
Privacy is more to do with personal levels of comfort, so it is up to you to decide how much information you are comfortable sharing.
Internet Behavior That Affects Your Privacy
Most personal information is let out into the wild of the internet because users don’t follow good practices.
There are a few key areas where they forget to take the most basic security measures.
Here are the top three basic mistakes users follow repeatedly.
1. Opening attachments or downloading malicious files
Users have to be cautious when opening email or social media files because they may contain both malware and viruses. In the same way, you should only download files from reputable sources because this can cause virus infections.
2. Not logging out of websites
Not logging off from websites and have, they remember login details convenient for hackers. It leaves your on-line bank accounts and personal-data vulnerable to anybody who uses or hack into your device.
3. Using the same login details
When you use the same login information on all your accounts, it is easy to remember, and does make things easy to do on-line.
If a cybercriminal can access one account, they’re more likely to gain access to the others.
Top 10 Online Privacy Tips
Passwords are the first line of defense against the malicious people trying to gain access to your accounts.
Passwords should be between 8 and 15 characters in length, and a combination of letters (lowercase and uppercase), numbers, and characters. Do not use passwords that are easily guessable. Never use a password based around your social security number and avoid the use of dictionary words.
It is also a wise move, to refrain from using your name or any other personal data. People can predict your passwords easily when you use personal information.
To ensure your passwords are securely stored, you can utilize a secure password manager. These can help when you are using unique and complicated passwords for the websites and services you login to.
It may be difficult to memorize them all, so password managers can sort this out for you.
They will generate strong passwords and then store them with high encryption levels so you don’t have to memorize them yourself.
2. Using Two Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication means that you require an additional layer of authentication in addition to your password to log in to a given account. This may be code sent via text message or to your email addresses. This second layer of security can protect you when your passwords are somehow compromised, and should be used any time you will be using a credit card online.
Encryption is an essential element in keeping sensitive information safe on the internet. It functions by encrypting, or “scrambling”, whatever you transmit over your network. This avoids anyone watches your network activity from seeing the information you input on the sites that you visit.
3. Securing Browsers
The majority of websites on the internet use some sort of analysis or analytics platform. These trackers allow websites to trace the effectiveness of their marketing and obtain information on the number of people visiting their site.
These crawlers unfortunately collect data about you, including your IP address, location, and the type of device.
Ad blockers are similar to tracker blockers in that they work by spotting ads on pages and then blocking them from loading.
Aside from protecting you from any data collection these ad blockers can speed up the load times for the websites you visit.
HTTPS encryption secures the data you input on websites from transmission over the internet as plain, legible text.
Verify that the URL of sites you visit is HTTPS before you enter any information you do not want other people to have access.
4. Private Browsing
It’s a misconception to think that Google Chrome’s incognito mode or Firefox’s private browsing mode will keep your web browsing entirely private.
However, if you want to use the internet on both a shared or public computers?
These private browsing modes may help prevent the following person using the computer from noticing your online activity.
What they will do is clear your history and any cookies that are created during your browsing session. You can use these on your home device in case hackers manage to worm their way onto your device.
Other ways to prevent data loss here are to use an alternative search engine. Everything you search for using
Google is sent back and builds up a profile about your preferences. There are a good deal of privacy centric search engines that won’t record your search terms. Duck Duck Go being one of the more well known.
5. Use Tor or Another Browser
TOR Browser (The Onion Router) is a browser that works similar to a VPN. It safeguards you by rebounding your data through a network of volunteer-managed servers all over the world.
Tor delivers a high level of privacy because it won’t permit any of the hosts your data passes through to view your IP address.
Aside from this, you can use browsers other than Google Chrome. Chrome may sound like the best one, but it regularly reports to Google on what you’re doing. One of the safest alternatives is Firefox, as it is not based on Chrome like many others.
6. Update Operating Systems and Software
Software and devices have to be kept up to date as much as possible. Updates are often accompanied by important security patches and bug fixes. So download them as they become available.
As software and hardware becomes older, there is an increased likelihood of security breaches. When software and operating systems are kept up-to-date, additional privacy, protection is added.
If you have vulnerabilities in your software or operating system, the chances of malicious characters taking advantage of vulnerabilities increase.
Other programs such as Adobe Flash and Java are two that are in continuous use when you are on the Internet; they are also two areas that hackers use to penetrate systems.
These can be configured to update automatically rather than manually.
7. Anti-virus and Malware Software
Anti-virus software is a data security application that you install on your computer/PC system to protect against viruses, spyware, other malware, rootkits, phishing, spam attacks and other online Cyber threats.
Anti-virus has the main work of detecting viruses, and other unknown threats and removing them before they can damage your system or steal your data.
Phishing is unauthorized attempts by a third party or hacker to access your data on with the intention of stealing or infecting the information so they can use it to gain access or for the purpose of identity theft.
Anti-virus software delivers bi-directional firewalls that verify all incoming and outgoing data through the internet and blocks it if they find anything suspicious while transmitting.
8. Avoid Public Wi-Fi When Possible
Public Wi-Fi is a major convenience, but it can also threaten your privacy. There are many exploits in these areas, like the Man in the middle attacks.
These are attacks when someone accesses the internet connection between you and a website you wish to visit. They can view your web activities without you being aware of it.
Public networks are unencrypted, and your data is sent in plain text, with no encryption.
This means anyone who can access can see whatever is being sent back and forth.
These open networks are used extensively for the distribution of malware, and for snooping and sniffing.
They utilize both software and devices, which allows them to listen to a Wi-Fi signal behind the scenes. Hackers can gain access to anyone’s login details or other sensitive data.
9. Cellphone Security
There is a misunderstanding that privacy is largely a threat on a computer. Because of mobile devices capabilities, there are many if not more privacy hazards on phones than computers.
One threat stems from location tracking. Since you are more than likely to carry your cell with you at all times, this provides businesses and hackers significantly more information to collect and use.
When downloading apps to phones, you are prompted to grant certain permissions.
Pay attention when agreeing to these terms, as the app may be requesting unnecessary access to cameras, microphones, image galleries and contact phone numbers.
When you inadvertently give permission to an app, you are agreeing to allow it to violate your privacy; this is just the same as not enabling security by using a lock screen only worse.
10. Use a VPN for Ultimate Security
Many of the above online privacy issues can be limited by using a virtual private network (VPN).
As soon as you install the client app on your device or home router, you will have protection. Every bit of data that flows through your internet connection will be encrypted in the same way a bank encrypts their data.
Not only can no one see what you are sending, receiving or doing online, they cannot relate it back to your IP address.
A good example being location tracking. You could be sat next to a hacker in a Wi-Fi zone, your VPN may show you as being in an entirely different country.
VPN services are the best way for any user to regain privacy when online. The likes of Google and Facebook will be lost and you won’t receive anywhere near as many ads because the trackers don’t know where to send them.
Any service that promises the ultimate in online privacy and security bends the truth, but a good reliable VPN when used with all the above measures.
They can make you as secure as you can be no matter if you are on a computer or on your cell phone.