5 Tips for protecting your online privacy and anonymity

5 Tips for protecting your online privacy and anonymity

Many of us don’t pay nearly as much attention to our online privacy as we should, but things are changing as news of high-profile data breaches and scandals come to light. In fact, a recent survey found that half of US citizens don’t trust the way organizations collect and use their personal data, and almost two-thirds have suffered a data breach. To stem the tide of threats to digital privacy and security, there are a couple of things you must do.

#1. Avoid oversharing on social media

Targeted social engineering scams are on the rise as cyberattackers develop detailed profiles of specific targets before personalizing their attacks to achieve far greater chances of success. A lot of scammers depend on social media to research their target victims in the same way that legitimate companies use it to profile their potential customers.

This is why people should be mindful of what they share on social media more than ever. Above all, they should never take native privacy and security controls for granted, since many social platforms have a poor track record when it comes to protecting user data. Despite what the social networks might have you believe, always keep what you share to an absolute minimum.

#2. Connect via a virtual private network

Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before, which presents many opportunities for businesses and employees alike. But while the ability to get a head start on the day’s work on the commute or to work from the local coffee shop might sound attractive, it also means putting confidential data at risk.

Public networks often have poor security, especially if they’re not protected by a passcode. A hacker can easily intercept data being sent between the user’s computer and the local router. To stop that from happening, you should always connect via an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN) to ensure all traffic and web activity is encrypted.

#3. Turn on private browsing mode

Almost every website you visit tracks your activities, and while that doesn’t necessarily include any personally identifiable information, the data collected can still be misused. Data such as browsing habits, device information, approximate geographical locations, and other information are all collected and stored on your computer in small files called cookies.

To hide browsing history and prevent potentially sensitive information from being collected on your local device and accessible to a third party, you can turn on private browsing mode. This is known as Incognito mode in Google Chrome and InPrivate browsing in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. However, it doesn’t stop your ISP from tracking your data, so make sure you have your VPN enabled as well.

#4. Safeguard your mobile devices

Mobile devices have now overtaken desktops for a huge variety of high-risk activities ranging from online shopping to banking. But the increased risk of loss or theft isn’t the only thing to worry about. Mobile app stores don’t always do a great job of vetting content, resulting in a heightened risk of spyware and adware.

To protect your mobile devices, you should always use a PIN-protected lock screen with an automatic timeout and enable remote wiping for lost or stolen devices. Also, be mindful of the permissions you give when installing new apps. Moreover, businesses should take the time to blacklist any high-risk apps on devices used for work.

#5. Keep spyware and adware at bay

A lot of software, particularly mobile apps and games, comes laced with adware that collects user data. With mobile apps, many people are in the habit of granting access permissions to anything the app requests, such as photos, cameras, and GPS locators. If this data ends up in the wrong hands, you could end up facing a serious privacy or security incident.

Running up-to-date anti-malware software on all your internet-connected devices keeps the most serious threats at bay, but you can’t take it for granted. That’s why it’s best to keep your software portfolio to a minimum. Businesses should also avoid having sensitive data stored on local devices, instead of keeping it in the cloud and protected by secure access controls.

If you want to protect your online privacy and anonymity, In-Touch Computer Services offers you all the tools and guidance you need. Talk to our consultants for expert recommendations on everything related to cybersecurity.