5 Ways to Improve Internet Privacy

From overly intrusive data collection by companies to massive data breaches affecting those same companies, the Internet has become a scary place to be. Securing your Internet privacy has become much more difficult today than ever before.

This is made even worse by the fact that new trends in technology such as Internet of Things and the Digital Economy have turned so much of our lives digital. Each website we visit today tracks our every move, and that’s not even counting hackers who are trying to steal as much data as they can.

Yet all is not lost and there are several things you can do to improve your online security almost immediately. Before you begin, though, check on Have I Been Pwned to see if your data is already floating around the web.

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1. Get a Password Manager

I’m sure you’ve heard all the horror stories of people’s accounts getting hacked because of lousy password management or weak passwords, so consider getting a password manager like NordPass or LastPass. These applications help you safely and securely store passwords for each site you need them for – all you must do is remember one good, master password.

Most people choose easy-to-remember passwords simply because they have so many to remember. With a password manager, your passwords for each site can be as long or complex as necessary with minimal strain on your memory.

2. Check Your Social Media Privacy Settings

Social Media companies like Facebook are forever updating their services and sometimes, this results in new features or settings coming up while you might not realize it. Go through your privacy settings on your social media accounts and make sure that you share as little as possible with people whom you do not know.

For example, on Facebook, you can choose to only allow your friends to see your profile and opt not to have your Facebook account listed on search engines. You can also tweak settings for other social media apps such as Twitter.

3. Ensure All Your Programs are Updated

Whether on your PC, laptop, or smart device, everything runs on an operating system, and on that, your run applications. Each of those needs to be kept up to date as much as possible. Many program updates are often meant to patch security-related issues. Hackers tend to scan for loopholes in programs that are left unpatched in order to gain entry to those systems.

4. Watch Where you Browse

When surfing the net, we often just click on links without being aware of some fine details such as the address of that link. In fact, this is the classic situation that phishing emails try to exploit, asking you to click on a website that might seem legitimate, but is fake site mean to try and capture your username and password for the real service.

For example, if you get an email from your bank asking you to follow a link, make sure the address is the usual one that your bank uses. If possible, don’t follow the links in emails and if you need to do something, type the address you know directly into the address bar of your browser.

Also, whenever possible, try to avoid websites that do not use SSL certificates. While various browsers may depict this differently, look out for a green lock icon next to the website address to know that the website is secure.

5. Secure Your Internet Privacy With a VPN Service

Our privacy online today is not only being violated by hackers, but even many governments are spying on their own people. While it may take decades of collective action to get out of this situation, you can secure your privacy simply by using a VPN service.

VPNs establish a secure connection from your device to their servers, encrypting all data that passes to and from your device. This not only shields anything you do from prying eyes but can also serve to mask your identity for better privacy.

Main Threats to Internet Privacy

Malware is software that can affect your device and compromise your security and privacy. The name is a general term that includes many types including viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, and more. Depending on the type of Malware, it can do a range of things, from collecting your private information and sending it to a third party or even disabling your applications or operating system.

Software Vulnerabilities affect you more than you know. Almost all applications have weaknesses of one kind or other and as they are discovered, the software developer will send out updates to fix them. Hackers often look for software that has known vulnerabilities and seek to exploit those which are not updated.

Phishing is the term used when hackers send emails to you posing as legitimate businesses or other sources. They then attempt to make you click on a link and enter information on a site controlled by them in order to steal your information. An example of this would be a fraudulent email sent by a hacker posing as your bank.

Are Your Kids Safe Online?

While the Internet presents a massive resource for child education, online access does come with significant risks. These include inappropriate content, online predators, cyberbullies, and as well as false or misleading information. Children are innocent and while they can be taught to use apps and programs, it is often more difficult to teach them to identify predatory behavior.

Thankfully, there are other tools that can help parents improve child safety with digital technologies. Take for instance the Kaspersky Safe Kids mobile app that allows parents to locate their children at all times. The app has other uses and can even notify parents if their child is in unfamiliar territory.

As an example, Lida Erasmus of South Africa used the app to locate her teenage daughter who had gone missing after leaving home with a young man. She was then able to pick up her daughter and bring her home safely. These and other tools may seem excessive, but children do need to be kept safe from the darker aspects of the Internet.

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Improving Internet Privacy on Android

Mobile devices are so prevalent and powerful today that many people are using them for mainstream activities such as web browsing and mobile banking. Here are a few quick tips on how you can safeguard your privacy on your Android device;

  1. WiFi is great for fast browsing and Bluetooth helps you pair lots of external devices such as a headset, but these both drain battery and allow apps to know where your device is. If you aren’t using them, disable your WiFi and Bluetooth signals.
  2. Android Beam and NFC help if you’re using features such as Android Pay, but we recommend turning it off when not in use since it leaves your device open to unwanted downloads including Malware.
  3. Many businesses try to leverage location-based services, and your location is transmitted by your mobile device. When not in use, turn off your location data in your device settings. Google for example loves to know everything you do and maximizes its advertising potential based on that!

See our top VPN picks for Android devices.

Protect Your Internet Privacy and Data Now

According to a Kaspersky Lab report, online shopping is now one of the top online activities in the world. Unfortunately, shopping involves money – which is what hackers are often keeping an eye out for. 32 percent of people who shop online have had their financial credentials fall into the wrong hands for various reasons – don’t become one of them.

Take your online security and privacy seriously and make sure you put the effort into securing your online presence today.

What is Internet Privacy / Digital Privacy

Internet privacy is a fundamental human right to secure one's communications via digital media without fear of being monitored by a third party. The digital media in question is usually the Internet, where individuals increasingly use digital tools such as email, chat, social media, and teleconferencing to replace traditional communication methods.

Unfortunately, Internet privacy can be a confusing topic. Different countries worldwide take a varied stance on digital privacy. While this may be a sovereign right, it's slightly ludicrous given the borderless digital world. Hence, we need to take control of our digital rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we have privacy on the Internet?

Our digital freedoms are eroding year by year. Governments are spying on everyone, companies are collecting our data, and hackers are stealing it. We need to take back our digital freedom and protect ourselves.

How can I protect my online privacy?

Limit what you share online and always protect yourself with a VPN service. This will help secure your data by encrypting it and passing your connection through secure remote servers.

What are Internet privacy laws?

Because the Internet is virtually borderless, there are no comprehensive global Internet privacy laws and if they were, they would be pretty much unenforceable. The laws that do exist more often that not don't cross state or national lines

Why is Internet privacy important?

Just as you don't share private details of yourself with people you don't or hardly know in real life, so too should you guard yourself in the digital world. Having too many private details online can result in serious consequences like identity theft.

Is there privacy in social media?

Yes, but many sites often make controlling privacy settings very complex. Always be aware of your privacy settings and what you actually share online in any context.

Timothy Shim

Tim is a former tech journalist turned web technology junkie. He spends his time exploring the best in digital privacy and security tools. Meanwhile, experiments with SEO continue to increase his blood pressure. ( Contact Tim on Linkedin )

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