5 ways to protect your privacy and data online
We might not see it yet, but technology has taken over, may be not entirely but we are heading there. For instance, did you know that if you have an email ID, along with Facebook, Instagram presence or Google Plus account, you have a web-based personality (an online profile), irrespective of who you are. And there are high chances that companies, organizations, as well as the government, might have tracked your behavior and have kept extensive records.
Generally, the online personality of an individual is built by combining two inter-related sources of information:
- Your online behavior tracked by a machine
- And the personal data that you choose to share
The data that machines track includes an individual’s purchase history, content that he/she reads, data usage times, internet access times, URL’s visited, device location and everything that involves them connecting to the web or using a device connected to the web. While the information that you share, such as birthday, name, usernames, friends, blocked numbers, address, physical features, etc., adds towards building your online presence. Combination both of these forms an individual’s online personality.
Find out how you can protect your data online from being misused:
Change your browser
Almost all the major browser and OS companies track behaviors of individuals present online, including Google browser, Google Chrome. The best way to protect your identity is to opt for browsers that do not record or track your data. Saru Tumuluri, CEO, Khosla Labs, says, “Try changing to a browser that doesn’t track you and the very least you can control what you share with the company. For instance, browsers like Tor is built for privacy and doesn’t share or capture your browsing information with anyone. Another browser that you can look at is Firefox, which is highly configurable when it comes to privacy and makes tracking the user’s browsing behavior extremely difficult for companies.”
Enable two-factor authentication
With two-factor authentication, you take security one step further. It makes logging in harder for anyone trying to gain unauthorized access to your account. Tumuluri says, “With two-factor authentication, individuals receive a shortcode sent either to their phone or registered email address, instead of a single password. This way the hacker needs to first gain access to your number along with your personal email id before logging into any of your accounts.”
Review your social media privacy settings
You should review all your social media privacy settings including Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter and keep changing. This should be done especially since we use our social media accounts to signup with companies on the web inadvertently giving them access to your profile information. Tumuluri adds, “Individuals should revisit these settings at least once in few of months to see who has access to your personal data.”
Use Stronger Passwords
According to a recent study by researchers from Virginia Tech, found that most people make a similar mistake while setting up a password for their accounts. It is seen that most people end up using personal details like the name of their favorite team or date of birth as the password for his/her accounts. Hackers with access to your personal information can guess them, and get access to your accounts. Experts recommend using passphrases instead of passwords to protect an account. Try using any phrase with 15 or more letters including special characters in them. You can also use a password manager to manage, remember and suggest strong passwords.
Review permissions for mobile apps and browser extension
We are aware that almost all mobile apps now require permission to multiple services and hardware to function, and we allow them that. Also, access to such information also is used by companies to profile an individual and track their online behavior, which then is used for marketing by these companies.