We say it on and on that you (all of us) shouldn’t take our rights for granted. On the Internet, many parties are going for our data in order to serve us “relevant ads” and push us to buy more stuff than we need. In this “process,” we effectively become products that are sold on the market. It’s like a row in a giant spreadsheet that many organizations are looking to buy.
There is no good reason to let them do that when we have the power to, at least partially, stop them. Here are five things everyone should be doing to take better care of their privacy online:
1. Use good passwords
And when we say good, we mean impossible to guess. These would include at least 12 characters that can’t be remembered by any sane person. Therefore, you shouldn’t be able to remember them as well.
Instead, you should buy (don’t get a free one) a password management app and use it to generate these kinds of passwords. These apps/services tend to encrypt all the data that is stored on their servers, so even if they end up being hacked, your passwords won’t be known to anyone.
Also, when you use a password manager, you won’t have to use the same password on multiple services — the password manager app will make it easy to log in to a number of different sites.
This may all sound like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people don’t follow these practices. So it’s worth repeating.
2. Enable two-factor authentication
Building on top of the previous part, you should up your game by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) across the board.
This way, even if someone somehow manages to get your password, he/she won’t be able to log in without that extra step that tends to include an authenticator app running on your phone. Or without confirming the login with a code that was sent as a text message or as an email.
When you start using authenticator apps, they may seem like an additional hassle – but that is well worth your time. Your privacy is not free, and you shouldn’t take it for granted.
3. Keep your apps and devices up to date
Another common sense advice that isn’t always followed. These updates can bring new features and also fix some of the known bugs and other security issues. Therefore, it is a must to regularly update everything — including your apps and devices.
Also, you should check your router from time to time and see whether a new firmware has been released that you could install. And the same goes for all other connected devices, the number of which is growing with the day.
4. Check your privacy settings across websites
With the growing public demand, many web services such as social networks have fine-tuned their privacy settings pages — allowing us, the users, to turn on and off things we don’t like. There will always be some compromises — after all, these services tend to be free — but you can shut down at least some parts you don’t like.
So make sure to visit the so-called “privacy centers” of Facebook, Google and other major players and see what kind of modifications you can make. It can be a hassle, but it’s well worth your time.
5. Use a VPN
Last but definitely not least, use a VPN. And not just any VPN; get the best VPN money you could buy. The prices are similar across the board, so there is no need to be cheap.
But, if you do want to save some cash, you’re best off signing up for a longer-term plan under which you will get to use the best VPN for just a few dollars per month.
Then, you should have that VPN running on all your devices all the time. This way, it will be harder for tech giants to keep up with every move you make online. And the same goes for various government-affiliated agencies that seemingly can’t get enough of our data.
A VPN will have your back by encrypting all traffic coming to and from your device(s), making the data unusable for hackers — even if they manage to intercept it somehow.