Many people who assume their personal information is confidential would get shocked if they did a simple search for their name online. Even if you don’t get any meaningful results from this search, the fact is there’s often more of your personal information out there than you think there is. It’s usually data that you willingly shared on your social networks and the websites you visit but perhaps without the realization of where it will end up.
Internet marketers are keen on getting their hands on as much customer data as they can since this gives them the ability to target people more directly. But what is good for marketers is not necessarily good for you. The more of your personal information is out there, the more vulnerable you are to fraud, phishing, identity theft, and other common scams. Maintaining your privacy online is therefore in your best interest. Here’s how you can do that.
Passwords are a pretty effective tool for creating a barrier between your personal data and an unauthorized third party. If you are employed, chances are your employer not only requires you to have a password to access the company’s systems but has also installed sophisticated access control tools such as SharePoint permissions management.
What many people forget to do is apply similar access controls to their personal gadgets. Make sure your home computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are password protected. If any of these devices are lost or stolen, your most sensitive personal information could easily fall into the wrong hands.
Not just any password will do though. Your password should be complex enough to make it hard for someone else to guess. Passwords should have a seemingly random mix of lower and upper case letters, symbols and numbers.
Digital privacy is closely intertwined with digital security. If your gadgets and applications are infected by malware such as keyloggers, that could give hackers access to your personal information. In some cases (such as a ransomware attack), your personal data may be locked away and only become available if you pay a ransom.
The best way to protect yourself from malware is to install a reputable antivirus program. But that’s not all. An antivirus’ effectiveness is dependent on how regularly you update its engine and the virus definitions. Ideally, you should turn on automatic updates so that the antivirus patches are applied as soon as they become available.
Your web browser is the principal way you interact with the Internet. If you are going to divulge any personal information about yourself, chances are that will happen through your browser.
The bigger problem is that you won’t even do it knowingly most times. That’s because whenever you are browsing the world wide web, you are inadvertently leaving a trail of footprints. Websites try to keep track of your movements, so they can know what they need to do to make you buy their product.
Social media is a platform that makes keeping in touch with family and friends that much easier. But social media is also a notorious conveyor of confidential information often without the user’s realization. Whenever you post something on your social media account, you must have a clear understanding of who can see it. Is it viewable to the public, your friends/followers/connections or the friends of your friends?
Social media platforms like Facebook contain an enormous amount of personal information that comprises not just your date of birth, email, workplace, and relatives, but also photos that give malicious persons a clear picture of what you look like and where you live. Before you start posting on any social media account, therefore, go through the privacy settings to make sure that your private information is only visible to your immediate social circle.
The internet is such an integral aspect of everyday living that it’s impractical to live without it. That doesn’t, however, mean you are predestined to lose your privacy whenever you go online. By following these tips, you can make it harder for unauthorized persons to see your personal information.