Privacy is a rare commodity, and if you take online privacy seriously, you should learn how to use the internet with caution. Learning how to do so is key, given that we’re increasingly using the internet with regularity, and this opens us up to online fraud, attacks, cyber-bullying, data breaches, and even tracking.

Fortunately, it’s not completely hopeless: You do have control over your data. Here are seven tips that will help to improve your privacy in 2020.

Use private browsing modes

Staying anonymous online is the first line of defense against online attacks.

But it’s worth clarifying that using private mode has its limitations as it only provides an extra layer of protection and not complete online privacy.

However, what a private mode will do for you is that it will block cookies, and so most of the online tracking is defeated.

If you’re wondering what cookies are, there are small files that store information regarding your online activity, including history and sites you’ve visited.

Classic examples that will let you browse anonymously on the internet include Google Chrome’s Incognito function and search engines such as TOR or DuckDuckGo.

Use a VPN

While browsing on private mode might make you anonymous, the truest way of protecting yourself online and hiding your digital footprint is through a VPN or rather virtual private network.

A VPN, like its name suggests, creates a private network across a public network by connecting users to the internet through another server. The connection is further encrypted, and this way, no third party has access to your data, and if they infiltrate, they cannot read the content, anyway.

Furthermore, a VPN hides user IP addresses and will stop the sites from tracking your real IP, consequently your location as well as browsing habits.

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Be as it may, picking a VPN is quite challenging given there’s a huge market o them existing; however, you can read the pros & cons of using Surfshark VPN, one of the leading VPNs in the market.

Only use HTTPS sites

You can always improve your online privacy by using a website that uses HTTPS as its part of their address.

The reason why it’s not advisable to use the non-HTTPS website is that the website might have a malware installed by a fraudster, and they can easily access your data.

Alternatively, you can always improve your online browsing activity by using HTTPS extensions, such as HTTPS Everywhere extensions, or AdBlock.

Optimize your passwords

A sure-fire way of getting your accounts hacked and allowing yourself to fall victim to online fraud is using the same password across the board.

See, when you do this, hackers will only need to spy and crack your logging application one time, and they can access any of your accounts.

So, you first need to use different passwords for everything.

Another crucial thing is that you need to optimize all your passwords, making it impossible to crack. Don’t use basic passwords and steer clear of your name, favorite pet, birthday, or any easy to guess the combination.

Instead, use complex passwords, ideally those with 12 or more characters that include a combination of capital letters, numerals, lower-case alphabets, and special characters.

Change social media privacy settings

Most of us have social media accounts, and you would be surprised to learn how much these networks have information about you.

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And this begs the question of whether you use your social media privacy or not.

The biggest mistake we see with many social media users is keeping their privacy to default settings rather than adjusting the settings to provide maximum possible privacy.

Avoid public storage of sensitive information

You should always limit what you store on public storage meant for sharing data, and if possible, you should avoid it altogether as public storage is hardly safe.

For instance, it’s unsafe for you to store your password, important scans, documents, or confidential data in Google Docs or Dropbox as it’s relatively easy to access them.

Ideally, you should always assume that data stored on public storage is one day or another become public, whether accidental or by purpose.

Evade tracking on websites

When visiting a website, a browser usually collects your data, including your surfing history, and can even predict your future behavior to create a specific profile for you for marketing, or even shady deals.

To avoid that, you need to control cookie settings so that websites cannot access your data without your permission. There are also alternative browsers such as Brave that make it easy to block website tracking or you can install extensions in Google Chrome and/or Firefox that do the same job (e.g. Ghostery).

Use anti-malware software

Anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes, will protect your computer or even phone against the intrusion of unwanted third parties.

In most cases, this software identifies your system’s weak spot and add strength to those access points, hereby making your device safe and all its contents unreadable to anyone other than who it was intended.

Conclusion

Staying safe and maintaining privacy online is akin to shutting and locking your front door. In any case, we are more likely to be robbed online, than we are with a physical robbery—so use these tips and stay safe.


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