There are a million different ways in which we expose personal information on the internet — be it geotagging on Instagram, posting about a movie you liked on Facebook, making transactions on Amazon, or uploading pictures on cloud platforms. Although the popular belief that your devices are listening to you is not true, there are other ways you are getting spied upon.
Let us say you start seeing ads of a certain toothpaste you use but have never talked about it to anyone or googled it. The reason you are seeing the ads is that your device can assess your location and give you ads based on what your family, friends, or neighbors are purchasing. Isn’t it dystopian?
This means that even if you are no oil mogul or television hotshot making important bank transactions and harboring intimate details, your privacy could be at risk. Whatever you do on the internet is data that many companies worldwide buy to assess your online behavior for targeted advertising. Not only corporations, but your data may also be at the risk of surveillance and breach if it falls into the wrong bureaucratic hands.
How to protect your Data
Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is difficult to imagine a life without gadgets like phones, laptops, computers, iPods, etc. Which means that you are always giving away your privacy in one way or the other.
This increasing dependency on usage means that the privacy of sensitive data is at risk, now more than ever. Is there really no way to protect ourselves and our privacy? Does this mean you should immediately stop all your activities on the internet?
Short answer: not really; long answer: there are a couple of different ways to keep your digital identity safe from malicious persons and organisations lurking on the world wide web. With that being said, let us jump right into the 3 things you must do to protect your personal data.
1. Get a VPN
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is possibly the easiest and most efficient way of protecting your personal data and privacy. A secure VPN establishes a protected network connection between your device and the web which disguises your online identity.
To put it briefly, you could be operating from Canada, but your VPN will mask your IP address to belong to another country of your choice, say France or Italy. This means that it builds a safe passage for your device to access the internet without the fear of unauthorised actors like your Internet Service Provider (ISP) eavesdropping on your data.
However, a robust, premium VPN does more than just disguise your identity. It gives you access to regional content, secures data transfer, protects your devices and data against identity theft and other threats.
2. Set a strong password
A lot of work we do is online, especially during the pandemic. This means we end up accessing tons of sites, many of which require the creation of an account or a password to access. This may include your email, your school’s student zone or a friend’s Medium blog.
Nonetheless, because remembering dozens of passwords is mostly not possible, it is only human to reuse the same password across systems and websites. Here is the catch: if someone can crack your password, they would thereby be able to break into every account of yours – from your bank account to your private email.
The first lesson in overcoming such a crucial challenge is to generate a complex password instead of simple ones like ‘123ABC’ and so on. You could be innovative and include non-English words, numbers, special characters, and more. Once you have set up a strong password, you can either choose to write it down on your phone’s notes app or use secure software such as Google’s Password Manager. Make sure your password reveals as little about yourself as possible and do not reveal it to even to close friends and colleagues.
3. Install an antivirus software
When it comes to internet security, antivirus software is the go-to option for everyone. They are known to provide efficient security and protect all devices from malware, identity theft, phishing and fraud, all while keeping your data encrypted and privacy intact. From keeping your private details from being compromised, robust antivirus software with world-class threat detection, data protection and attack prevention is the most appropriate.
Some antivirus software also comes with inbuilt VPNs — offering both benefits in one package. You could browse the internet, research, ask around before you make a final decision. Since every software differs in price, performance and use case. You decide what you want for yourself.
All said and done, it is time to take your privacy into your own hands. With these easy and practical pro-tips — your personal data is safe and secure.