Do you read about recent data scandals and cringe at the thought of how your personal data is being treated?
Or do you feel that you should have at least some control
over your data?You’re not alone.Many people are beginning to realize that social media and the internet have helped our society advance at unprecedented rates.But:They have also caused us to all but lose our anonymity.Today, I am going to show you 7 ways that you can retake control over part of that anonymity.
Before we begin, I’d like to point out that January 28th is the national data privacy day.So, if you want to celebrate it, go implement these methods today.
- ALWAYS browse in anonymous mode
- Changeup your default search engine with a privacy focused one
- Change your social media settings
- Don't talk so much online
- Use end-to-end encrypted messaging and talking apps
- Enforce browser security with these extensions
- Use a VPN to protect yourself from prying eyes (a.k.a Internet Providers)
1. Always Browse in Anonymous Mode
Let me start by saying that "Incognito Mode" as Chrome calls it does not give you complete privacy online.It is not the
answer.But it can add a layer of protection.Each browser has their own name for their more inconspicuous browser option.
Chrome calls it incognito mode, Firefox and Safari call it Private Windows.
That being said, using it can prevent websites from tracking your activities - what you're looking for, etc.
Since incognito mode blocks most cookies, a lot of tracking is defeated.
Have you ever noticed that ads are usually tailored to the things you've searched for or the sites you've visited?
Block those cookies and you have achieved the first step towards more privacy.
Here's how to change your default setting to private mode.
In Windows, right click on the chrome icon and select properties.
to the end of the text in the Target box.
In Firefox and Safari, it's even easier.
Firefox Privacy Settings
To make privacy the default settings in FireFox, simply go to options,Click on the privacy tab on the left of the window and select "Never remember history."
Then, every time you use FireFox, it will use those settings.
Safari Privacy Settings
On Safari, go to Safari Preferences.Then select the "Safari opens with" box and choose "A new private window."
And there you have it.You will now be browsing in private mode always.So, now that you have done that, let's talk about another of my favorite privacy tips.
2. Changeup your default search engine with a privacy focused one
Here's what you need to understand about search engines:They have to pay for the service they offer you somehow.And generally, there are two options - donations, or profit from ads.
Remember, if it's free, it's being paid for somehow.And it's likely that you
are the product.That's rightThe search engine tracks your habits, what you are searching for, and so much more data.It then sells the data to advertisers.SoTo avoid this, use a search engine that is funded by donations and doesn't track you.DuckDuckGo
is one of my favorites.It does serve ads.
But they're based on keywords and not your activity.The company can still make money without tracking you.Firefox is another great privacy oriented browser/search engine.So, whatever browser you're using, head to the settings and choose a privacy oriented search engine.Now that you've done that, let's talk about a privacy mistake that a lot of people make.
3. Change your social media privacy settings
Nearly everybody uses social media these days.And most of them make the same privacy mistakes.That is:They just use the default settings.Like we talked about with browsers and search engines, how do you think social media companies give you "free" services.It's because you are the product.
You may be shocked to realize that they are literally selling you.But, you can re-take control of your social media privacy.Here's how:
Facebook gives you the option to change your privacy settings.We don't have room to list them all out here, but if you check out the bonus section at the bottom, you can get a checklist of all of the items that you should adjust.Change your settings so that you control who can see your posts, locations, faces, etc.
Unless you have a business, just make your entire twitter private.Then choose only the people that you want to see your tweets.There's not really a need for the whole world to know all of your doings.Now, let's discuss another social media privacy mistake a lot of people make.
4. Don't Talk So Much Online
This is a mistake so
many people make.They discuss everything
they do in their personal lives online.If they're taking their dog to the vet, they pull out their phone, take a selfie and post it for the whole world to see.
Why?Does the whole world need to know everything you do?ActuallyStudies have actually shown that criminals have used social media to their advantage.To choose and track their victims.
One recent article stated that over 78% of burglars are using social media to find their targets
.That post about an upcoming trip, or vacation update.Maybe not such a good idea.
So before you are quick to post your thoughts or plans online, think twice about what you're posting, who can see it, and how it may be used against you.Don't put your family's safety at risk.Or allow phishers to target you with customized attacks.Ok. Now that you have taken care of that, on to another privacy tip.
5. Use end-to-end encrypted messaging & talking apps
It seems like messaging apps pop up by the dozens these days.And pretty much all of them are free.Raise alarms?It should if you've read the rest of the article until now.
And yesVarious messaging types and services have been caught reading your messages.The solution?Use an end-to-end encrypted messaging solution to increase your messaging privacy.Here are a few respectable encrypting messaging and talking solutions:SignalSignal
is an end-to-end encrypted messaging solution that works on Android, iOS, and desktop.TelegramTelegram
works on Android, iOS, Windows Phones, and all computer OS types.iMessage
If you have an iPhone or use Apple products, you are very fortunate that the default messaging
system is encrypted and keeps your conversations private.WickrWickr
is another secure messaging solution that has recently come to the table and received pretty good reviews.
6. Enforce browser security with these extensions
In addition to the suggestions we've already discussed for online privacy while browsing the internet, there are a few extensions and online security tools
that can make it even better.First up is:
The HTTPS Everywhere extension
will force website visitors to use a secure connection instead of an un-secure one.This reduces the possibility of anyone listening in on your internet traffic.
Ghostery Browser Extension
plugin is one of my personal favorites.It helps to make your web browsing safer and faster by detecting and blocking all of those third-party data-tracking items.You can set your default online privacy settings and then make exemptions if you choose to do so for certain websites.
The last extension that we are going to have room to talk about here is NoScript
7. Use a VPN to protect yourself from prying eyes (a.k.a. Internet Providers)
So you think you're safe to browse the internet at home on your own connection and be free from anyone snooping on you right?Not so quick.Believe it or notThere is a good chance your internet service provider is actually collecting and selling your browsing data.
What's even worse is that it is completely legal and approved by Congress.
The solution?A VPN.If you really want privacy, you should use a VPN.Tunnel Bear is one of my favorites, but there are many options.It is also a good security measure when you travel.You can be sure that your traffic is encrypted and no one is able to see it.
There are so many things that we could discuss about online privacy but we can't go on forever here.And I want to be sure you get the most out of this post.That's why I put together a Cybrary exclusive bonus section.Including:A privacy setting checklist for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.Here it is.
What's your online privacy tip or strategy?Please share it in the comments below.We all want to learn.