It’s not new to read Privacy breach news on a regular basis. A recent data breach of Facebook affected up to 50 million users even Equifax had a significant violation as well.
However, you are not helpless when it comes to your online privacy. Following are nine actionable steps you can take to secure your data while browsing the web.
Steps to Secure your Web While Browsing
1. Download an Antivirus
Firstly, get a good antivirus program. There are many free antivirus programs available. Some good ones include Avast and Avira. It scans your computer system on a regular basis and does a deep scan at least once or twice a month. Besides an antivirus software, consider getting an antimalware software as well. Malwarebytes is free and scans for threats that many antivirus programs won’t detect.
Apart from this, consider investing in a firewall as well (many antivirus programs come with one if you upgrade to a premium plan). It will help protect against outside threats. You might not know, but Viruses and Malware can track your activity and steal your information.
2. Use Secure Browsing
Whenever you need to enter personal data online, make sure that you see a green lock icon in the browser bar (different browsers may have slightly different security icons). It indicates that the SSL certificate that encrypts your data via HTTPS is working correctly.
3. Be Careful with Wi-Fi Connections
Not all Wi-Fi connections are similar. If you’re on the go and have no internet, it may be tempting for you to connect with that free Wi-Fi network. However, you should be careful about which Wi-Fi connections you use. Open Wi-Fi networks can have anyone connected to it, including hackers.
Try using secured networks that require a password, such as those that are offered by coffee shops and hotels. Be sure to connect with the right system and not a spoofed network with a similar name that may have been set up by someone else.
Even when using password-protected Wi-Fi networks, be careful about entering private or sensitive information while connected to it. The same goes for entering passwords or using online banking. If you need to do so while on the go, consider using your mobile cell phone data as a hotspot; it’s often more secure than public Wi-Fi networks.
4. Use Secure Passwords
It’s a no-brainer, but too many people use insecure passwords such as 12345678. Try to keep a complex password that is hard to crack, like a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numerals, and symbols. Change your passwords periodically. This way, you’ll boot out anyone who secretly has your password and access to your accounts.
Better to use a password manager to generate secure passwords for all the programs. The benefit you get is you’ll be able to control all your passwords with one main password, avoiding the need to remember several passwords.
5. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Besides using a complex password, consider using two-factor authentication whenever possible. It requires to enter a code sent to your email address or your phone number when logging into your email accounts or online banking accounts on new devices. The benefit you get is even if someone figured out your password, logging into an account is not possible without the code. Lastly, make sure you can choose to have the code sent to both your email and your phone, in case you lose access to one of them.
6. Be Careful with Search Engines
Search engine collects a lot of data to help personalize your searches and improve the search results for all users. Many people are even concerned about Google and other search networks having access to too much information. To keep yourself safe, consider using private mode, it doesn’t track your activity. You can also use a search engine specially designed for privacy, like DuckDuckGo.
7. Read Privacy Policies
Read the privacy policies of programs before you sign up for, the software & apps you download or use on your phone. Not everyone takes time to read through these boring policies, but it can alert you regarding certain things like, whether the company shares the data with third parties. Stay aware whether they take data security measures like the GDPR regulation & compliance to assure data protection. However, it’s for the individuals who largely define how is the handling of data.
8. Be Careful with Social Media
Don’t post every detail about your life on social media. Be social, but there’s no need to display where you are every day and what you are doing. Social media usage can present many privacy concerns. Take Snapchat, for example. Their Snapmap feature shows other users your exact location on a map. Make sure your Snapmap is turned off or is only visible to friends who you select carefully.
Let’s take another example, if you go on vacation, don’t post pictures about it on Facebook until you get back. You never know if someone is stalking you. There’s no need to broadcast that you are not at home. The same goes for “checking in” on Facebook. You are telling the whole world where exactly you are. If you post a lot on social media, make sure to change your Facebook privacy settings so only your accepted friends can see your posts.
9. Encrypt Your Phone
Consider protecting your phone and laptop with a password. If it gets lost or stolen, your data stays protected. Besides protecting your phone with a PIN or security code, consider encrypting your data. This way, your data won’t be retrieved through other methods. Last but not least, be careful about where you leave your phone. Make sure you aren’t careless about leaving it in public places.
Wrapping It Up
Cybersecurity is an ever-increasing concern among individuals and businesses alike. By using the above tips, you can significantly improve your online privacy and protect your data from strangers.