Posted on Friday 16 April 2021
Privacy hasn’t always been a priority. From public bathhouses to one-bedroom family homes, the way we think about privacy has gone through some big changes. Today, we all value the ability to keep certain actions and information confidential, visible only to ourselves and those whom we specifically grant access to.
Lawmakers across the globe have even written specific rules for privacy management in constitutions and regulations for individuals, companies, and governments. After all, we live in a world where we pay our bills, give money to third parties to invest, store our sensitive data, and communicate online every single day.
Unfortunately, our heavy use of the digital world to store data and communicate sensitive information leaves us vulnerable. From your name and address to your email account to your credit card number, there are plenty of opportunities for hackers, malware, and viruses to intercept our data and invade your privacy. In the wake of recurring credit card breaches and social media data leaks, digital privacy has never been more important.
How can you ensure that your digital privacy is protected? The good news is that protecting your privacy in a digital world is much simpler than you think. Take a look at the sections below for our top recommendations on how you can keep your privacy intact online.
Think your search histories and online data are kept private? Think again. All of your data and online activity runs through your IP address, which is directly connected to your internet service provider (ISP). As a result, everything that you do online is visible to your ISP. That makes a VPN a valuable investment for online privacy.
What is a VPN? It’s an easy, quick, and efficient way to provide an extra layer of anonymity when you are browsing online. A VPN keeps your online activity and information hidden from your ISP by masking your IP address and rerouting data through its own encrypted servers.
Getting a VPN can be as simple as downloading an app (not only on your computer, but on your smartphone, too). Average costs for individual VPN services fall between $10–$13 a month.
What kind of information are you sending through email? Have you ever sent personal data, such as your name, address, phone number, or (yikes) your credit card or bank information?
Even if you’re catching up with family and friends, email conversations are seldom guaranteed to stay confidential. And if a hacker can access your emails, they may be able to access your entire account (and all of the data that you have ever received, sent, or saved). If you want to truly keep your email conversations private, you’ll need to make sure your email is encrypted. Even government servers are not safe these days. You probably heard about how CERB accounts got hacked a while ago. So be responsible for your own security.
Email encryption scrambles and disguises the contents of an email so that a hacker or another third party cannot access the contents of an email. With email encryption, the contents of each email stay private to only the sender and the recipient. For the sender, email encryption also provides an extra layer of security for the email account itself, as well as stored, cached, or archived messages.
A healthy dose of skepticism will help you protect your privacy in a digital world – especially when it comes to what you click on and what you download. Links and attachments are used by hackers and scammers (often posing as real, legitimate companies) to fool you into providing sensitive information. These links and attachments could even have malware, ransomware, or viruses hidden inside.
Take the time to review any link or attachment that gets sent to you. A few things to look out for are misspelled or incorrect domain names, poorly written body content, or URLs that don’t match the context of the email. Never click or download until you have ensured that you are connecting to a reliable, legitimate source.
Not all websites are created equal, especially when so much of what we read, buy, and interact with is online. Whether you’re filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, or entering your credit card number, you should never do so unless the website is secure.
How do you know if a website is secure? Look for a little padlock icon to the left of the URL, or check to make sure that the URL has “https” instead of “http.” The extra “s” and the padlock are both indicators that the site is encrypted, meaning that your personal data won’t be intercepted by a hacker.
Many hackers use viruses and malware to access your online activity or your device. These viruses are designed to dig into your sensitive data, pulling up your name, address, email, credit card numbers, and so on.
Anti-virus and anti-malware software constantly monitor your devices to ensure that digital threats are caught and eliminated as soon as possible. You should have anti-virus software downloaded on any device that you use to access the internet, including your smartphone.
We’re all guilty of using “1234” as a login key, or of setting the same password for multiple accounts. Passwords can be tricky to manage, especially when so many applications require routine password updates.
Don’t fall into the trap of creating a simple, easy-to-guess password or using the same password across the board. In both instances, you are taking a big risk with your privacy by making it that much easier for a hacker to step in.
Creating and managing your password combinations turns into a seamless process with a password manager. A password manager can create complex passwords and store them for you, meaning you don’t need to worry about remembering them.
Password managers can also monitor each account for potential security breaches, help you identify weak combinations, and keep passwords synced between your phone and your computer. Not only does this help protect your digital privacy, but it also makes signing in and out much easier.
The internet has become an unshakable part of our lives – and for the most part, that’s a great thing! We live in a digital world where we can pay our electric bill, check our credit score, binge-watch our favorite show, and buy a new dishwasher all from behind a screen. But that convenience and accessibility comes at a price: your privacy isn’t always guaranteed, and it’s up to you to ensure that your digital security is a top priority.