How to protect your privacy online

Are you worried about how much of your personal information is on the Internet and vulnerable to theft or misuse? You are not alone. Online privacy is an important issue. However, there are steps to manage and protect your financial and personal information when accessing your favorite social media, news, and entertainment sites.

Here are some ways to improve your online privacy.

Limit the personal information you share on social media A smart way to help protect your privacy online? Don`t overshare on social media. Providing too much information on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram could make it easier for cybercriminals to obtain identifying information, which could allow them to steal your identity or access your financial information.

For example, could an identity thief determine your high school mascot or your mother`s maiden name from digging through your Facebook account? This information is sometimes used as security questions to change passwords on financial accounts.

Unfortunately, many people don`t take this advice. In a 2018 study, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that approximately 52 percent of respondents shared personally-identifying information through social media sites.

And that`s just the start of the oversharing. The same study found that about 48 percent of respondents shared information about their children, while nearly 33 percent shared information about their location. A total of 42 percent of respondents shared information about their travel plans through social media.

To protect your online privacy, ignore the “About Me” fields in your social media profiles. You don`t have to let people know what year or where you were born — which could make you an easier target for identity theft. Explore different privacy settings, too. You might want to limit the people who can view your posts to those you`ve personally invited.

Create robust passwords, too, on your social media profiles to assist save you others from logging into them for your call. This way the usage of a mixture of at the least 12 numbers, unique characters, and upper- and lower-case letters. And by no means use personal, easy-to-bet information — along with your birthdate or pet`s call — as your password.

Browse in incognito or private mode

Web browsers today offer their own versions of this form of privacy protection. In Chrome, it’s called Incognito Mode. Firefox calls its setting Private Browsing, and Internet Explorer uses the name InPrivate Browsing for its privacy feature. When you search with these modes turned on, others won’t be able to trace your browsing history from your computer.

But these private modes aren’t completely private. When you’re searching in incognito or private mode, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see your browsing activity. If you are searching on a company computer, so can your employer. The websites you visit can also track you.

So, yes, incognito browsing does have certain benefits. But it’s far from the only tool available to help you maintain your privacy while online. Anonymous search engines and virtual private networks can bolster your online privacy.

Browse In Incognito Or Private Mode

If you’re like many web surfers, you rely heavily on Google as your search engine. But you don’t have to. Privacy is one of the reasons people prefer anonymous search engines. This type of search engine does not collect or share search history or clicks. Anonymous search engines can also block ad trackers for websites you visit.

Use a different search engine

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Using a VPN is especially important when you`re on public WiFi at a library, coffee shop, or other public location. A VPN will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access your personal information. You can find many free VPN solutions, but it could make more sense to pay for a service from a trusted security provider if you want the maximum amount of privacy protection while online.

Be careful where you click

One way hackers invade online privacy is through phishing attempts. In phishing, scammers try to trick you into giving up valuable financial and personal information. We often do this by sending fake emails that appear to have come from banks, credit card companies, or other financial institutions. Often, these emails will advise you to click a link to verify your financial information. Otherwise, your account will be frozen or closed. Don’t be fooled by these scams. If you click on a phishing link, you could be taken to a spoofed webpage that looks like the homepage of a bank or financial institution. But when you enter your account information, you`ll be sending it to the scammers behind the phishing attempt, not any bank, credit union, or credit card company. Before clicking on suspicious links, hover your cursor over the link to view the destination URL. If it doesn`t match the financial website you use, don`t click. Also, remember that banks or other financial institutions will never ask you to provide account or financial information through an email. If you receive such an email and need your attention, please log in directly to your financial service provider’s online account portal. You can then check if there is a problem with your account. Alternatively, call your financial provider to see if there is a problem with your account. Use the customer service number on your bank statement or provider’s website instead of the number in the suspicious email.

Secure your mobile devices, too

Many of us spend more time surfing the web, replying to emails, and watching videos on our smartphones than on our laptops. Therefore, it is important to make as much effort as a computer to protect the online privacy of mobile phones and tablets.

First, make sure you lock your phone with your passcode. Entering the code every time you access the home screen of your mobile phone can seem tedious. However, this passcode may provide an additional layer of protection in the event that your mobile phone is lost or stolen. Make sure your passcode is complex. Do not use your date of birth, house number, or any other code that the thief can guess. Be careful when downloading the app. Dangerous viruses may be embedded in these games and productivity tools. Buy games only from trusted sources.

Take the same precautions when browsing the web and checking email on mobile devices, just as you would with a laptop or desktop computer. Also, do not ignore software updates. These updates often include important protection against the latest viruses. Continuing to ignore them can leave your smartphone’s operating system and programs vulnerable to attack.

Use quality antivirus software

Finally, always install antivirus software on all your devices. This software can keep hackers from remotely taking over your computer, accessing your personal and financial information, and tracking your location. And once you install this software, don`t forget about it. Manufacturers frequently update their virus protection software as a defense against the latest malware, spyware, and other viruses. Install updates as soon as they become available.


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