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How to Protect Yourself Online

Every day, it seems like people have less and less privacy online. Everybody knows what you’re doing. This is the case for many reasons. One of them is that search engines collect an unbelievable volume of personal information. That engine is Google for the majority of internet users. Google and Bing track lots of data as they operate the popular browsers Chrome resp. Edge.

Deleting your data is the first step to protecting yourself online. For Google, delete everything from the My Activity dashboard. Data can be deleted in search history management for Yahoo. For Bing and Microsoft Edge, you’ll need to clear data separately.

It’s not possible to eliminate tracking completely on Google. You can switch to DuckDuckGo or another privacy-friendlier engine.

hands on keyboard changing password

Update software regularly

Most privacy hacks take advantage of vulnerabilities at least two years old at the time they occur. Adjusting your operating system to install updates automatically is the most critical step. The best antivirus software will protect your computer or device against spyware, which collects credit card information and other financial data in the background.

Remove your data from search sites

There is no shortage of sites that let you look up people online today. They might have more data on you than you think. Consider visiting the most popular people search sites and sending them a request to remove any data they have on you.

Safeguard your browsing with a VPN

As mentioned, web browsers collect data on your online activities. You can use extensions to improve security and privacy. Before that, sign out of your browser. Tracking blockers and ad blockers stop sites from tracking you. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encodes browsing data, making it unreadable to cyber criminals. A VPN is imperative if you need to use wi-fi at an airport, a coffee shop, or anywhere else where the connection is public. 

You can use incognito or private mode, but your internet service provider still tracks your browsing, and websites have access to data like your IP address.

Use a browser like Brave to ensure online privacy. Tor is the safest browser. It conceals your history and location across numerous layers. Its privacy level is unmatched. The downside is that it’s a bit slow.

vpn box

Disable data and ad tracking

Most personal information is collected for marketing purposes. It’s possible to disable many trackers with a few simple steps. Reject any popups that ask if you want to share data. Delete cookies whenever possible. Cross-app tracking can be disabled on iOS 14.5+.

Last, you can disable ad customization on Google services like search, Facebook ad settings, Apple, Microsoft, third parties that use Facebook data, Amazon, and Twitter. While plenty of other sites track data, the ones named here are the biggest offenders by a long shot.

workspace computer ad blocker

Eliminate third-party app connections

You can limit the connections between the different apps you use. If you use your Facebook details to log into your Spotify account, they can be breached simultaneously. Use unique logins instead of single sign-on (SSO).

People often post across social media, connect apps to sync calendars, and more. It’s important to check what’s connected. If there’s something you don’t need, revoke its access. You can stop third-party apps from connecting to your Google account, say the experts at Gadets Now. You can also keep them from connecting to Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Slack.

Protect your data via encryption

A password might protect your login, but someone can remove your drive and access everything on it after connecting it to a separate machine. By setting up encryption, your data will be meaningless without your password.

Remove data from a device before selling or giving it away. Limit what you store in the cloud. The safest messaging options are apps like Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp, which have end-to-end encryption.

Disable Gmail’s smart features and personalization to add extra privacy protection against email hackers and message previews on your lock screen. A hacker can find out who’s contacting you if previews appear on your screen. They do not need your password to use two-factor authentication in this case.

Binary encrypted code with encrypt word inside

Final thoughts

You can take many other steps to protect yourself online; the majority is within your control. According to Mac Rumors, these include changing weak passwords, limiting what you share, and indicating how to handle your data to processors.

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