The internet offers a world of convenience. It allows business leaders and their staff to collaborate with one another even when they’re out of the office. It lets busy individuals make purchases without having to step foot in a brick-and-mortar store. People can communicate with colleagues, friends, or family members on the other side of the world using any internet-connected device.
For all the ease and convenience it brings, the internet also carries a multitude of privacy risks. Every website you visit, every social media post you make, every link you click on — all of these leave trails of data that may be collected and used by businesses for marketing and advertising purposes. At the same time, cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in finding ways to access your personal information. These make protecting your online privacy more important than ever.
Here are a few tips to boost your online privacy.
Use antivirus and anti-malware software
Install robust antivirus and anti-malware solutions on all your internet-connected computers and mobile devices. These offer protection from viruses and malicious software that could allow hackers to take over your devices and gain access to the information these contain.
It’s also important to keep your antivirus and anti-malware software up to date. Installing updates and security patches as soon as they become available prevents cybercriminals from exploiting any vulnerabilities in these programs, so your devices and data are always protected from the latest threats.
Set strong passwords
Passwords play an important role in safeguarding your online privacy. They serve as the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your accounts and devices, as well as the wealth of sensitive information they hold.
The key is to not recycle your passwords. Use a unique password for each of your devices and accounts. If you find it hard to remember all your passwords, use a password manager like LastPass and 1Password. With a password manager, you will only have to memorize a single master password to gain access to all your login credentials. A password manager can also generate highly secure passwords for you, saving you the trouble of coming up with one every time you create a new account.
Enable multifactor authentication
You shouldn’t rely on passwords alone to secure your accounts and personal data. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends setting up multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever possible to protect your data and identity.
MFA adds extra layers of protection to your email, online banking, eCommerce, social media, and other accounts by requesting for at least one more login credential or method of identity verification besides a password. Additional login credentials can be in the form of one-time PINs sent through SMS or fingerprint scans. MFA makes it more difficult for hackers and other unauthorized users to access your accounts even if they do manage to crack your passwords.
Browse in private mode
Different web browsers offer private browsing: Google has Incognito Mode, Edge has InPrivate Browsing, and Firefox has Private Browsing. In private mode, your browsing history, login details, and the cookies on the websites you visit won’t be stored on your browser or computer. This is helpful if you’re using a device that other people have access to; with private mode enabled, your history will be erased once you log out, so others won’t be able to see your activity.
However, your internet service provider and the websites you visit will be able to do so. And if your computer or mobile device is connected to your company network, system administrators can monitor what you’re doing online as well. Also, if your computer is infected with spyware or a keylogger, hackers can spy on your activity and even steal any information you type into your computer. This is why it’s a good idea to supplement private browsing with other means of safeguarding your online privacy, such as the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
Use a virtual private network
A VPN encrypts all data transmitted and received over your network, keeping it safe from the prying eyes of hackers, government agencies, and private organizations that might be tracking your online activity. It also masks your IP address and hides your location.
Using a VPN is particularly important when you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi. Often, public Wi-Fi is unsecured, which means anyone can access and use it. If a hacker is using the unsecured network you’re connected to, they can easily intercept your login credentials, financial information, and private conversations. But a VPN would encrypt your data, rendering it untraceable and inaccessible to everyone else on the network.
Think before you click
If you receive an email or SMS asking you to click on a link or download an attachment, be very wary. More often than not, such emails and messages are phishing scams. They are sent out by online scammers to trick you into divulging sensitive information like your banking details or Social Security number.
Keep in mind that no legitimate organization would ever ask for your confidential information through email or SMS. Even if you think a message is legitimate, it’s still a good idea to verify its authenticity by contacting the organization or individual who supposedly sent the message through their official website, email, or phone number.
With more and more people sharing information over the internet, online privacy is taking on greater importance. Quicktech Solutions understands this, and we have the tools and expertise to protect your Vancouver business’s sensitive data from theft or misuse. Get in touch with us today.