You can protect your privacy and thwart unwarranted attempts to access your data by making several simple changes to the accounts and devices you use. It’s easy to get started. Here’s a guide to some quick measures you can take to protect yourself online.
Even tech giants are not immune to password leaks and data breaches. Yahoo, Facebook, Equifax, Target, and Home Depot have all been the victims of hackers. A hacker has likely leaked data from at least one of your online accounts. You can find out by going to the site “Have I Been Pwned?” to check your email.
It is important to have different and complicated passwords for each of your accounts. To generate and remember these, you can use a password manager. To protect your security and privacy online today, this is the most important step to take. If you have smart devices in your home, you should change the default passwords. These would include a security camera, a smart light bulb, or a router.
If possible, apply two-step factor authentication for your online accounts. This option is available through most social networks and banks. Using this option, you can enter a password, as well as a number that no one but you has access to.
Malware can wreak havoc on your computer. Its effects range from scanning for and picking up sensitive personal data to clandestine bitcoin mining and pesky pop-ups. If you use a shared computer or risk opening dangerous links, it is recommended to install reliable antivirus software to protect your information.
Computers running on Windows 10 should use Defender, which is built into the OS. For most users, the degree of security provided by Defender is sufficient. Experts recommend updating to Windows 10 if you haven’t yet, while the previous versions of Windows will soon not be supported anymore.
Your online footprint is no secret to sites and companies. Every site, ad, and social media button collects information about users’ browsing habits, locations, and more. Using this information, companies, and hackers can learn more about you than you can imagine. Whether you share a political belief on Twitter or a medical problem on Facebook, data advertisers get what they need to determine your personal characteristics. This has given rise to targeted advertising with all its pitfalls and nuisances.
You can slow ads down by disabling those from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple based on interest. To opt-out of your data being collected on websites, you may need to do manual adjustments. There are services with clear opt-out instructions for Reddit, Netflix, and other popular sites. Using these will reduce the volume of data collected dramatically, short of completely doing away with the problem.
Finally, experts recommend getting HTTPS Everywhere installed. This is a free, open-source extension that automatically directs users to a site’s secure version. However, not all sites have one. If a given site does, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for an attacker to intercept your activity. This is especially true if you’re using public Wi-Fi at a hotel, airport, or inside a store.
While not mandatory, using a virtual private network (VPN) has helped many people protect their information online. VPNs are useful if you often connect to public Wi-Fi. They can reduce IP address-based tracking, as well as ensure privacy from your internet service provider. However, the VPN provider will have access to all of your online activity, so it’s important to find a reliable VPN service. This is because some untrustworthy VPN services sell their users’ data.