Of Data Privacy and Security: 7 Effective Measures to Protect Yourself

Data Privacy

In the twenty-first century, you have this worldwide web of information. A handheld device or computer connected to the internet takes you to places, events, persons, and things. As everything becomes interconnected, the question of privacy arises.

Personal data is a hot commodity collected by websites or apps that track and analyze your browsing activity. Take as an example the product you clicked a moment ago and now appear in online ads, urging you to buy if you haven’t. What’s worse is falling into the hands of hackers who employ social engineering tactics and more to gain access to your accounts or computers for malicious purposes.

This talk about privacy comes hand in hand with security. How do you arm yourself against hackers and trackers?

1. Keep an Eye on Your Passwords

Your passwords should be difficult to solve by a human or computer and updated frequently even when the website doesn’t prompt you to do so. As an alternative, try passphrases that are easier to remember and tougher to hack. Avoid writing and sending passwords online; use a password manager to share login credentials within your team or organization.

Pro tip: enable two-factor authentication, which requires a code or token when you log in to your email or perform a transaction on an app. Only you have access to these tokens through an authenticator app, and if you lost or switched phones, inform the respective app right away.

2. Browse Wisely

Browsers have cookies that contain bits of information about your log-in session stored in your computer or device. While these cookies are helpful, enabling you to log in to a website and providing personalized content, the not-so-bright side is they can be set up for advertising. Thus, you have the targeted ads.  

To that end, clear out your cookies regularly. You have to log in to the websites when you open your browser next time. Install plug-ins that block ads and advertising trackers.

Also, use a browser that keeps your online activities hidden (e.g., an incognito or private window). Moreover, visit websites with hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) because it stands for a secure connection.

3. Use Public Wi-Fi with Extreme Caution

Public Wi-Fi is tempting because it is free. The catch is that the connection is unsecured with no authentication or password required. Anyone can thus connect to the Wi-Fi and be able to access the data you transmitted through this connection.

Avert this security risk by not accessing public Wi-Fi at all. Instead, use your mobile phone data as a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you’re left with no choice but to tap the free Wi-Fi, don’t do anything that will require you to type sensitive information like phone number, name, and credit-card details.

4. Consider VPN

Virtual private network, or VPN, allows you to bypass geolocation restrictions set by streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu. A VPN can also cover your tracks when browsing on a public Wi-Fi, as in the abovementioned case, torrenting, and accessing blocked websites. 

You can check if your country implements internet censorship and to what extent. Above all else, ensure that the VPN is trustworthy; otherwise, it doesn’t provide you any security. You have to be wary of VPN services that are free because there’s got to be a catch somewhere.

5. Steer Clear of Oversharing

Financial institutions always discourage the use of birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant dates for PINs. It holds more true now that social media is huge and too much information is the norm. Hackers can create a profile of you based on your posts, friends, and likes and mount a social engineering attack against you.

Be careful of what you post online, and restrict it to an audience made up of people you know. Avoid using geotags or revealing your current location for physical security reasons. Tick off settings that would have inadvertently exposed your personal information online. Also, check the permissions such as your camera, microphone, and contact list you’ve granted to apps.

6. Run Antivirus Software

The role of antivirus software is to warn you of issues that can potentially infect your computer. Before a virus, worm, or any malicious software causes damage to your files, the program will destroy the malware first.

Thus, instead of being annoyed at messages that your IP address is showing, check that your antivirus software is up-to-date. That way, it is in better shape to ward off threats that are evolving.

Encrypt Laptop

If your laptop gets lost or stolen, or someone attempts to take over it, encryption will save your life. Put simply, it protects files or devices from unauthorized persons by converting data into a code that only you have the passcode to. This key to the jumbled text ought to be strong.

You can encrypt files, folders, and a whole disk using your operating system’s built-in encryption option or a third-party program. As an extra layer of security, encrypt your USB drives. It can be risky to carry flash drives with critical work files in them. At least wherever your work takes you, you can be sure that the data is well protected.

With encryption, you are more at ease using your computer and flash drives. You can also use a USB flash drive as a key to your encrypted laptop.

If you telecommute or work with lots of gadgets alongside your computer, you will find laptop docking stations useful. They come in many forms and functions to suit your needs. It can be for multiple USB ports and slots to accommodate peripherals, charging power, or top performance.

Admittedly, it’s becoming harder to live off the grid in this day and age. The best you can do is to keep what’s essential out of prying eyes and hands with the measures above.

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