Your information on the internet isn’t as safe as you think. Even if you only deal with legitimate services and avoid scam websites, you are never entirely in control of your data once you give it to someone else.
Luckily, there are ways to safeguard your data and prevent its abuse. This article will provide you with 4 effective solutions for protecting your information online:
1. Stop oversharing on social media
In this generation, snapping a quick photo of whatever you’re doing and sharing it online has become a routine. This wouldn’t be a problem if all your followers were close friends or at least people you know. But the things you share on social media are, for a large part, available to most of the world.
Avoid publicizing any personal information on social media accounts, such as your:
- Phone number
- Email address, or other.
It’s also best to stop sharing too many updates about your everyday life. Most social platforms also allow you to make your profile “private”, which will hide all your activity from people you haven’t approved.
2. Close online accounts you no longer use
The average internet user has over 100 online accounts. Now, think about how many of those you use daily – it’s probably closer to 10 than 100. Over the years, you’ve made many different accounts and shared your information with dozens of companies. Even though it’s been years since you’ve last been active, these companies still have your data and can use it however they want.
Put some time aside to go back and delete as many accounts you no longer use as you can. If these accounts are ancient, they are also likely less protected, making them easier to hack.
There are several ways to find old accounts you likely forgot about:
- Search your email history for search terms, including: “Welcome”, “Verify”, “Free trial.” and similar phrases. This action will likely lead you to most online accounts you’ve created over the years.
- Look at your password manager. If you save all passwords in a password manager, you can easily go back and see all your accounts. This is just one of the reasons why password managers are great, which leads us to the next point:
3. Use a password manager
If you think about it, all your information online hides behind a password. Whether it’s your social media accounts with your personal information or your university account that holds your grades and other sensitive data.
Thus, weak passwords jeopardize your information by exposing you to a greater risk of being hacked.
A password manager is one of the most effective tools for ensuring strong password security. Using a password manager enables you to generate complex passwords with the click of a button. Then, the password is stored in a vault that you can access when needed.
We mentioned the sheer number of accounts the average internet user has. Now imagine coming up with a strong password for each account without using any duplicates. With the rate of internet use today, password managers are the only way to ensure strong password security effectively.
4. Protect your web browsing
As great as they are, companies like Google and others you use daily constantly track your online activity for marketing purposes. The websites you visit track all sorts of data, from your location, browsing habits, likes, dislikes, and more.
The data they collect enables them to create an online persona based on your online activity. You would be shocked at how much this persona tells about you, which is why you often see some unbelievably specific targeted ads.
Luckily, there are a few ways to protect your web browsing:
- Switch to a “privacy” browser like Tor that provides browsing without tracking. Privacy browsers encrypt your online activity to such an extent that it’s difficult for web services to attain valuable information about you.
- Install extensions to your current browser. Browser extensions allow you to customize your browsing experience and make it safer. For example, ad-blocking extensions will hide ads and prevent them from collecting data. There are also extensions that block trackers, protecting the privacy of your online habits.
Protecting your information online can be challenging with so many actors desperately seeking your data. However, with a few tweaks to your online habits, you can significantly boost your information’s security and prevent leaks. Following these solutions, like not oversharing online, closing accounts you no longer use, using a password manager and protecting your web browsing, will give you a solid base to minimize the exposure of your personal information online.