Stay Safe Online with These 10 Quick Privacy Tips

Stay Safe Online with These 10 Quick Privacy Tips

You probably shut the curtains and draw the blinds as soon as it gets dark. You teach your children not to talk to strangers, in person or on the phone. You don’t share details about your personal life with work colleagues.

These are all old standards, but the latest privacy threat, the internet, is bigger and more technical than anything else we’ve ever had to worry about. According to TRUSTe Privacy Index 2016, 92 percent of US consumers are concerned about their privacy online. In the UK and the Netherlands, 71 percent of social media users have adjusted privacy controls above the default setting, versus 40 percent in Italy and 39 percent in the Netherlands. People around the world are beginning to think about who can access personal information on the internet and what they might be able to do with it.

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Privacy and Reputation

Privacy vulnerabilities are one of the biggest threats to your reputation. Personal data obtained through careless habits or through hacking can have disastrous consequences if it’s released publically. Everyone on the internet is trying to get their hands on your information, from companies looking to sell it for advertising purposes to online criminals trying to extort money from their next victim. At ReputationDefender , our privacy services help consumers protect themselves against these unseen dangers. We offer ongoing surveillance and in-depth privacy reporting, as well as assistance with data suppression after you’ve encountered a problem.

No one is 100 percent safe online. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Most leaks and online fraud occur because someone was careless and gave hackers an opening. Raising the security level on your accounts, even by a small account, will make you a hard target and hackers will likely move on to someone else.

Here are 10 of our best tips for protecting personal privacy on the internet:

  • Create Strong Passwords – You’ve heard this before, but it’s still important. Use unique, un-guessable passwords for each account, with 12-16 characters that combine numbers, letters and symbols. If you have a lot of accounts, it’s worth investing in a password manager.
  • Enable 2 Factor Identification – Use 2 factor text-message or email notification whenever you sign in from an unknown device. Persistent hackers can still get around this by gaining access to your mobile, but it will be a lot harder.
  • Browse Anonymously – Did you know browsers can leak a lot of information? If you entered your real name and email when you registered, your browser may be sharing this information with sites you visit. Consider registering under a pseudonym and an alternate email address on the ‘Settings’ or ‘Preferences’ page. Also, not all browsers were created equal. Google is known for collecting information for advertising purposes, although the recent ‘Opt Out’ choice will limit this. If you’re still concerned, the Tor Browser Bundle on Firefox is even less traceable. Using DuckDuckGo for searches rather than Google can also reduce data collection.
  • Use Browser Extensions and Cookie Control – Browser extensions like Privacy Badger limit spying and tracking via your browser. It’s also worth installing a quality ad blocker such as uBlock Origin or Adblock Plus. Many browsers now support cookie control as well. Cookies are small pieces of information that websites store on your computer when you visit them. Many are harmless, but some allow unnecessary tracking and may even be sharing your data with a third party. Cookie control will let you decide whether or not you want to allow the site to use cookies.
  • Limit Mobile Apps – There are a lot of free mobile apps that generate money by collecting and selling your data. Before you start using an app, do some research to make sure it’s not too invasive. Check the privacy agreements, and don’t say yes to data sharing if it doesn’t seem reasonable based on what the app does. Among messaging apps, Signal is one of the best privacy choices on the market.
  • Keep Email Accounts Separate – One study found that 17 percent of US consumers receive more than 10 irrelevant marketing messages every day. Avoid this by setting up a separate email for online registrations and purchases. This way, if you accidentally register on a site that contains malware, you won’t compromise your entire email. It’s equally important to keep work and personal emails separate. Anything sent via an internal company network can potentially be accessed by your boss and other company personal. Businesses are also more frequently targeted by hackers.
  • Think Before You Click – Phishing attacks are increasingly sophisticated, so it’s best to avoid clicking any link contained in an email from an unknown source, even if it seems legitimate. Never visit a site that promises a reward or some kind of prize. Delete suspicious emails immediately and don’t attempt to communicate with the spammers.
  • Cover Cameras and Use Fake Audio Jacks – This might sound paranoid, but there are real instances where hackers were able to access cameras and create blackmail video footage. Some celebrities reportedly take this precaution, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the United States FBI Director James Comey.
  • Enable Remote Wipe on Your Mobile – Android and iOS both offer remote erasure to remove all your data in the event that the phone is stolen.
  • Use Encryption – This may be a good choice if you are a high-profile individual who is likely to be singled out by hackers. Encryption will scramble all communication so it is completely unreadable unless you have the key. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is one of the best free programs for encrypting personal communications.

For further questions or privacy concerns, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

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Posted on 05 May 2017 by Tony McChrystal