These days, the majority of our lives are spent online. Its not completely surprising to learn that the criminal underground has followed us to the Internet. Every day, people get their retirement accounts drained or their private information sold on the dark web.
The list of ways you can be victimized online is endless. But the good news is, you can take steps to protect your internet privacy. Let's look at 9 powerful ways to protect your internet privacy.
Stick To HTTPS
This Internet privacy tip is as simple as it gets. Stick to websites which utilize HTTPS over HTTP. HTTPS helps prevent form submission shenanigans by encrypting the user's connection to the website. If you are to use an HTTP site, don't submit any forms whatsoever, particularly those of the payment types.
Spotting HTTPS is simple, especially with Firefox that may warn you when a website is HTTP> Just look at the top of your browser where the URL is typed in. You should notice a lock box icon. That's how you know the website is secure.
Log Out After Using a Site
I know, no one wants to constantly have to login to websites such as Facebook, Youtube, and your Gmail. What a hassle!
But the fact is, remaining logged in leaves you vulnerable to hacking. Imagine the possibilities for a criminal mind that gains access to your Google account. They'd immediately hold location and email data, not to mention your browsing history and stored credit cards.
Fear not, you can use a password manager to help assist you with logging in. We recommend Nord Locker for password cloud storage.
Don't Fall For Fear Mongering Messages
Email phishing is big business…at least, for criminals.
Many criminals leverage fear messages, such as, “you're computer has been hacked” or “Reset your password immediately.” The emails will appear to derive from legitimate companies, likely ones you frequently use.
The strategy has you putting in personal information into a web form. Often, the email address will spoof a real address. And the URL that you click on will be a copy of the brand's site, but the URL is slightly off being that the criminals don't own that specific domain. For example, the phishing URL might be Verizonreset.ru. Or Verizon.passwordproblems.com.
Phishing scams have evolved greatly over the years. And it's now scary how good these scams are at converting the unsuspecting into victims. Many phishing scams leverage social media as a way to cultivate a user's interest.
This is why it is so important to tune up your social media privacy. Which leads us to…
Tune Up Your Social Media Privacy
A public social media account, while good for viral content, is even better for criminals who lie in wait. Social media accounts give amazing, in-depth insight into a person's life. With such information in hand, a criminal can tailor phishing attempts based on interest. They can use name + birthday information to sign up for accounts, or even retrieve password information.
They can outright impersonate you to your coworkers or employees as a way to extract their personal information. When a criminal can view your social media accounts, the sky is the limit in terms of data fleecing.
Check all your social media accounts. Unless you are working as an influencer or public persona, its best to limit profile access to close friends.
Use a VPN
I can't say this enough, use a VPN to help protect your web surfing privacy.
Keep Up With Antivirus
If you use Windows, make darn sure your antivirus is up to date with the latest version. If you use a Mac, its best to make sure your updated to the latest OS and that you've activated the Mac's internal OS antivirus software.
A good antivirus will snuff out malware and phishing attempts. It can block nefarious links. And it will frequently scan your computer for malicious files that happen to find their way onto your harddrive.
Limit Public Wi-Fi
This is one of the more disheartening tips. Let's face it, we all want to pop on to the coffee shop or even grocery store's Wi-Fi because its faster than our cellular networks.
And sometimes, we don't have a choice when our cellular can't fight the building's walls and we need information.
But its important to realize that hacking on public Wi-Fi is huge business. Called MITM or man in the middle attacks, a criminal can figure out ways to send unsavory and malicious links to people on the same Wi-Fi. They can hijack a cookie session which allows them to grab your login credentials to various websites. They may even prompt you to input login information.
Public Wi-Fi networks are a haven for cyber-attacks. Limit public Wi-Fi usage as much as possible.
Create Powerful Passwords
I get it. You'll never remember that crazy password. You need strong passwords, though, if you want to have any chance at beating cyber-threats. Too many people use simple passwords for convenience and that's a big problem.
Use a password manager such as Nord Locker to help you not only store your passwords so you don't need to remember them, but also help you create strong passwords.
Make sure you create unique strong passwords per site. Don't ever use the same password for two different sites or apps. If a hacker gets a password to one of your sites, they'll try that password to all your sites.
Use Two-Step Authentication
Two-Step authentication uses a mobile number or app to verify a login is really you. Typically, when you submit your password to a site such as Facebook or Google, if Two-Step is on, a text message comes to your phone. Or, you copy a code from an app on your phone. This means that anyone who logs into that specific site or app must have your phone, or at least, access to your text messages.
Its not full proof, but it's pretty darn good.
Improving your Internet privacy isn't super difficult, it just takes some changes in habits and a little extra knowledge. As our world becomes more and more tech-driven, establishing internet privacy habits will help protect you and your family's personal data.