How to protect your privacy online in 2018?

February 6, 2018 |

greater than 6 minutes

New technology is constantly pushing its way into our lives

And, whether we like it or not, we invite it in. We have learned to rely on the Internet in many ways that are worth counting, but in order to safeguard your computer, and, let’s face it, your life, you have to stay vigilant and take steps to protect your privacy in 2018.

Browsing the web is something we do every day. We frequent websites that interest us, we use emails in the browser, we keep important and sensitive information on various product apps on the web. All of these activities tell a story about us, the lives we lead and what our daily activities and routines are. This kind of information is a marketing “pot of gold”. Many companies use it to gather analytics about their clients in order to boost sales, position their target audience and sometimes target the customers in their prospective region (using their geographical location). So, it has become essential to keep track of the search engines changing their privacy policy. Also remember that some websites have tracking cookies attached to them,

so your browsing habits are no secret to anybody. And to top that off, Windows 10 is an operating system that has set the bar high for any anti-spying software, blatantly admitting to sending your data to Microsoft.

But don’t fret!

We have prepared an easy to-do list to make sure you know how to protect your privacy in 2018. There are some easy “rules to live by” that you should always follow, these are pretty self-explanatory:

  • never give passwords to strangers
  • when your computer is not being used, switch it off entirely
  • disconnect from theinternet whenever you are not using it

Another step to safeguard your computer can be less obvious. For example, what a lot of people don’t realize is that they are giving out a lot of personal information to the internet themselves. Whenever you are filling out a questionnaire, registering for a website, an online shop or social network, you are disclosing your date of birth, place of origin or address, age, etc., making yourself vulnerable to all kinds of scams. One of the ways to avoid this issue is registering a ‘dummy’ account for all the non-personal activities so that when you just need to register to get access, you won’t be stuck with weekly emails about things that no longer interest you. Also, try to avoid giving out any personal information on the internet – unless you have established that the connection is safe and the website can be trusted.

Unfortunately, the largest issue regarding our personal data given out without our consent that we have had to face yet is the social network. What Facebook (and others) doesn’t tell us (or rather, we forget to read in the Privacy Agreement document) is that it’s also collecting data about us and then selling it to the highest bidder. Fortunately, there are ways we can protect ourselves from this unwanted attention. There is no need to limit your social media networking experience, you just have to be smart about it. For example, disable location tracking in Facebook’s’ Privacy settings, opt out of targeted ads (for the hundredth time, I do not need a super special deal on cars!), limit other apps’ access to your page. Every time you ‘skip’ registration on some website and get access through Facebook, you are giving out a treat to the marketing team of the product you just purchased. There is no need to do that, better use the ‘dummy’ account we advised.

In any case, in order to safeguard your privacy online, you should always remember to secure your emails. Arguably, the most sensitive part of your information is stored there: all your bank account information that you’ve emailed to someone, your address, your telephone bill. Most of the things that we do online have, in some form or another, been in your emails. Whether it’s an airline ticket or a shopping list, you never know how this information can be useful to those seeking to obtain it. Of course, it’s a given that you should have a very difficult email password. One-word passwords are the easiest to hack into, you should always have case-sensitive passwords with numbers and special symbols. Of course, the best way is to devise a system of words that only you will know, switch some letters into numbers or write the words backward in another language. All these steps are essential to safeguarding your computer, so:

 Choose a password wisely and change it often.

We have already touched upon the many dangers of divulging too much information about yourself, but you should also remember that this sensitive data can potentially be collected by targeted cookies. To safeguard your computer from them, you should remember to clean up your browser history daily or set a framework in which the browser will eliminate all residual data from yesterday from your computer. Cleaning web history periodically will not only leave you less exposed to trackers but also make your computer work more efficiently. Depending on which browser you use, the settings section will have options on how to delete the history of web searches from your computer. It’s advisable to always browse the internet in ‘private’ mode to avoid phishing and malware, especially if you are using a laptop in a foreign country. In this instance, it’s also a great idea to set up your firewall to maximum safety mode. Sure, you might not be able to download some programs. But unless you had the time to handpick them you can’t sure that the connection is safe and the program installation file is not corrupted. Firewall software can be built in your computer if you have Windows 7, 8 or higher, and it will help you screen out potential threats to your security online, such as viruses, malware, and spam, stopping them before they have reached any kind of sensitive data on your computer.

Although the days of your computer being a virus-ridden machine are long gone, it’s never a bad idea to keep your anti-virus up to date. Updating your security protocols on a regular basis will save you a lot of time and energy in the end. After all, it only takes one wrong move on an unprotected computer to start the process of mayhem and loss of data. If you feel that your computer has been compromised in any way, or its performance has declined significantly, take preventive measures and run a virus check-up. As it happens, anti-virus programs nowadays are not being used for tracking down viruses per say, but are more targeted towards malware, as those often survive undetected and become the reason for the appearance of the so-called ‘bad sectors’ within your hard drive.

Judging by the pace with which the modern civilization has accepted the internet, there are now more than ever more people that are connected to the internet, and the numbers are growing exponentially. This also raises security concerns that can be addressed by an average user by tweaking some settings. However, in the long run, it might be prudent to invest in some protective software. You can find an interesting option in the Auslogics catalogue: https://www.auslogics.com/go/blog_fileinspect_fromarticle/en/software/anti-malware/

In order to safeguard your computer

You should be wary of what you are downloading from the internet at all times. Malware is a frequent companion, so be extremely cautious of what and from what website you are downloading, be it videos, software, books or music, etc. If you fail to do that, you might as well give out personal information out to strangers on the street – the result will be the same. Malware not only spies on you, but also sells the collected data to a third party, so you might not even know what is going on and why you suddenly find yourself in correspondence with another African Prince stranded without insurance money. The latter, of course, are a definite ‘no-no’! It’s best not to open those kinds of emails, don’t be fooled by another “Final Sale” and “Bank statements” from banks you are not associated with. Clicking those links will probably automatically download malware onto your computer and slow it down significantly. They are what is called ‘spam’, so stay vigilant and scan the email title for grammar mistakes, misspellings and lack of secure encryption on the website. Or better yet, just leave the Prince be.

So, just to recap:

  • Educate yourself about security risks
  • Give out less information on the web
  • Secure your e-mail
  • Clean up your browser history
  • Set your Security Settings of the Browser
  • Secure your passwords
  • Switch Firewall on
  • Implement anti-virus
  • Install anti-spam software
  • Use an anti-spyware tool

It’s important to protect your privacy in 2018 when emails are being hacked left and right. Of course, you may not be a government official but your personal data is as important to you as the X-files are to them, so don’t hesitate to research the options from our guide and prevent the untimely decline of your computer. Harmful content downloaded from the web is a common reason for hard disk failure, so appropriate steps should be taken in order to safeguard your computer.

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