While many of us know that the internet can be a sketchy place, few people are aware of just how important it is to protect their own data and ensure digital privacy for themselves. Yes, it seems clear that bigger companies with financial or healthcare-related data need to be more careful, but ordinary folk? What do we have that hackers would be interested in accessing?
It turns out each of us has a ton of information that could benefit a cyber-criminal. The following will help point out some elements of digital privacy that you can apply to your everyday digital life to help ensure that you and those closest to you are safe from digital threats.
Use Alternative Search Engines
Yes, Google might be the most popular search engine available, but it’s far from being the most secure. Everything you do on Google is monitored and analysed. Sometimes this data is then sold to the highest bidder influencing everything from marketing to elections. Yes, your data can be used to help sway elections. Scary, right?
Avoid handing everything over to Google by switching over to an alternative search engine. Many are available, but one of the most secure is DuckDuckGo. You want a search engine that never stores your personal information, never stores your search history (meaning they have nothing to sell to advertising firms), and never tracks your searches whether you’re in private mode or not.
You might be shocked to realise how biased the information you’ve been getting is when you see the difference in search results. If a search engine doesn’t store your information and use it to feed its algorithms, you end up with data and search results that are outside of your bubble. Be forewarned; for many people making the switch, this can be a scary realisation. Unknowingly, you might have been ingesting false or biased information for years, and suddenly those folks you adamantly disagreed with might not seem so crazy.
Blur Out Your Home On Google Street View
Google Maps has taken over navigation and resulted in fewer people than ever getting lost, but this isn’t to say that there aren’t considerations that need to be made. Burglars and other criminals often use Google Maps to figure out entrances or gain vehicle information (including license plate numbers if your car was in the driveway when the image was taken). To blur out your home, face, or vehicle, go to your address on Google Maps street view, click more options (three dots), click “report a problem,” click “report inappropriate street view,” adjust the window to make sure everything you want to be hidden is included and answer the questions presented about what you want to blur.
If this sort of guide feels shocking to you, you’re not alone. There are countless simple, step-by-step outlines to help make online security easier. Spend a bit of time finding a security information website that explains things to you in a way that you can understand. Tutorials and guides have been written for folks with all different backgrounds meaning that you will be able to find the information you need in a digestible way.
Update Your Software
You know those annoying messages you get on your phone and computer asking you to download updates that you keep putting off? It’s a good idea to go through with these updates because often, they include data security elements as hackers get more sophisticated, and so do anti-hacker elements of the software. Security bugs can leak valuable information, and software companies are constantly improving their security features.
Use A VPN
A VPN is a virtual private network. It adds an extra layer of security by disguising your data through encryption and hiding your IP address while you’re online. Not only does this help keep you safe while browsing the internet on public and open wifi networks, but it also keeps your information safe from your internet service provider. Yes, the internet company that is allowing you internet access in your home. A fun bonus of having a VPN is that you can access online materials that are limited to a single location, like Netflix in another country or free live streams happening all around the world.
The above tips can help you keep yourself and your data safe. It’s important that you don’t bite off more than you can chew right from the get-go. It’s far better to make a small tweak that you can maintain for years to come than to spend two weeks keeping yourself completely safe and burning out. Over time, you can add more and more tweaks to keep improving your privacy.