How To Protect Your Privacy Online: 12 Tips To Keep You Safe

These days, it seems like everything is online. We do our shopping, banking, and socializing on the internet. While the internet has made our lives easier in many ways, it has also created new opportunities for criminals to access our personal information.

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to fall victim to identity theft, scams, and other online crimes.

How To Protect Your Privacy Online: 12 Tips To Keep You Safe

That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect your online privacy. By following a few simple guidelines, you can make it much harder for criminals to get their hands on your personal data.

How To Protect Your Privacy Online and Keep Your Information Secure

Here are some tips for protecting your online privacy:

1. Use Strong Passwords

A strong password is at least 8 characters long and contains a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessed words like your name or birthdate and never reuse a password, or you could be vulnerable across all your online accounts.

It’s important to keep your passwords confidential. Never write them down or share them with anyone, not even close friends or family members. Also, be wary of any emails or websites that ask for your password – these could be scams.

2. Security Questions

One of the biggest problems with security questions is that they are not very secure. In fact, a 2017 study by Microsoft found that 60% of people could correctly guess their partner’s security questions, and 20% could correctly guess the answers to their friends’ security questions.

We’ve all been there before. You’re trying to log into your online bank account, or maybe even just trying to reset your password for an online shopping account. And then you’re asked to answer a security question. 

But none of the options seem quite right…was my high school mascot the Eagles or the Hawks? What is my favorite color again? And don’t even get me started on remembering my grandmother’s maiden name!

So what can we do about this problem? Well, first of all, start by refusing to answer the questions when we know that the answer is something that could be easily guessed. For example, if a website asks for your mother’s maiden name but also gives you the option of answering a different question or creating your own, go ahead and create your own.

Or simply answer your mother’s maiden name with anything you want, like ” skincream” which hackers won’t guess and you will remember!

3. Check Your Browser For Privacy Protections

For example in Chrome, if you’re using incognito mode to avoid leaving a browsing history, your employer or internet service provider can still see which websites you’ve visited. And if you’re using incognito mode to log into a site like Facebook, the site may still have information about you.

There are other potential issues as well. For example, cookies and other data from websites you visit in incognito mode can be stored on your computer. This means that if you’re using incognito mode to buy something or do something else that you don’t want anyone to know about, there’s a chance that someone could still find out.

Many browsers offer better privacy protections than Chrome, like Firefox and DuckDuckGo. For example, Firefox blocks tracking by default and doesn’t remember your browsing history or cookies after you close the browser.

I personally use the Tor browser, which provides one of the highest levels of privacy and security.

Another thing that you can do is use a browser extension that helps protect your privacy. There are a number of these extensions available, and they all work a little bit differently. Some of the most popular ones are Privacy Badger, Ghostery, and uBlock Origin.

4. Keep Your Software Up To Date

Hackers often exploit security vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to people’s personal data. By keeping your software up to date, you can help close these security holes and protect your online privacy.

5. Be Cautious About What You Share Online

Think twice before posting sensitive information like your home address or credit card number on social media or other websites. Criminals can use this information to commit identity theft or fraud. Also, be careful about what you share in emails, text messages, and instant messages. Once you send a message, you can’t take it back.

6. Use Secure Websites When Shopping or Banking Online

When entering sensitive information like credit card numbers on a website, make sure the site is secure by looking for https:// at the beginning of the address and a padlock icon in the browser bar. These signals indicate that the website is using encryption to protect your data from being intercepted by someone else.

Try to use two-factor authentication when possible for an extra layer of security if it’s an option.

7. Limit Access to Your Personal Data

Be selective about who you give your personal information to, only share it with people or businesses you trust. Try to limit the amount of information you share on social media and other websites. When filling out forms online, only enter the information that’s absolutely necessary.

8. Watch Out For Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals send emails or text messages pretending to be from a legitimate company in order to trick people into sharing sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers.

Be skeptical of any email or text message that asks for personal information, even if it looks like it’s from a trusted source. If you’re not sure if an email is legitimate, contact the company directly using a phone number or email address found on their official website.

I get them a lot, but they mostly go to spam. You might be familiar with them as they often say things like ” your account is on hold, click this link to… or even as a text ” your package (that you haven’t ordered!) is ready for pick up, click here to confirm, etc.

They are normally simple to avoid, but in a busy moment, you can click on them by mistake, so just be aware of this.

9. Install Antivirus Software

Good antivirus software can help protect your computer from malware, viruses, and other cybersecurity threats. Make sure the software you choose includes features like firewalls and antispam filters.

Microsoft has a free built-in virus and threat protection which is quite good but basic, and the free version of Malwarebytes is also really good.

If you need a more powerful one, I use Eset, an award-winning software to keep you secure.

10. Review Your Privacy Settings

Many websites have privacy settings that let you control how much personal information you share. For example, on Facebook, you can decide whether or not to share your location, birthday, and interests with friends. On Twitter, you can choose whether tweets are public or private. Take some time to review the settings for all the websites and apps you use regularly.

11. Be Aware of What’s Being Shared About You Online

You might be surprised by how much information about you is readily available online. Use a search engine like Google to find out what comes up when you search for your name. If there are any results you don’t want others seeing, take steps to remove them (for example, by contacting the website owner and asking them to take down the content )

12. Consider Using a VPN

A VPN (a virtual private network) encrypts all of the traffic between your computer and the VPN server, making it more difficult for hackers or government agencies (if they’re snooping ) to see what you’re doing online.

Privacy isn’t just about keeping your data to yourself — it’s also about making sure the data you do share is secure from being intercepted by someone else. A VPN can help with both of these goals by encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP address.

I always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), in my case Nord VPN as it’s easy to use and very effective and only costs a few bucks per month.

Wrapping Up

So now you know how to protect your privacy online, you can follow these simple tips and you can keep your personal data safe from criminals who are looking to exploit it for their own gain. With so much of our lives now taking place online, it’s more important than ever to be aware of how we can protect our online privacy and security while we’re surfing the web.

While no system is 100% secure, following these tips can help you protect your personal data from being compromised. So take some time to review your privacy settings, install security software and be aware of what’s being shared about you online. By taking these precautions, you can help keep your personal data safe and secure.

If you have a website, you might want to check out my article on monitoring your website.

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