In recent years, online privacy has become such an issue that regulators have had to act in unprecedented ways. However, there is still inadequate control over the collection of data online. It is common to see online collected data falls into the wrong hands. For instance, there have been cases of data breaches with Canva and Facebook leaking collected customer information. Privacy is not a subject confined to activist circles as many would like to believe; it affects you on a very personal level.
You may not have control over what the likes of Facebook do with your data. Certainly, you can stop third-party data collectors on tracks in the following ways:
Avoid free software and apps
Many of the free software and apps you use daily are harvesting your private data in exchange for you not paying for them. For instance, Google doesn’t make it a secret that they analyze your Gmail inbox, Google maps data, the internet activity for ad targeting services. Annoyingly, some of the free software or apps collect data and sell it to third-parties that you may not know about.
If you care about your privacy and who has access to your data, you should avoid any free apps or software at all costs. Some of the apps, especially those on mobile devices, ask for permission to access your data such as photographs and upload them without your consent or knowledge.
Browse with a VPN
A sure way to ensure privacy online is to install a VPN and use it all times. If you download a VPN to protect your data, you’ll be assured that your browsing data is encrypted. At the same time, your IP address or online activity won’t be accessible to your ISP, third-party data collections cookies, or hackers.
A VPN acts as a private conveyer for incoming and outgoing internet traffic regardless of the ISP or network you are on. This way, anyone, a website or company trying to invade your privacy online, can’t access your data or couldn’t make sense of it if they did.
However, as covered in the previous point, you should also avoid free VPNs, as they will also use your data to cover for the cost of giving you free access.
Use ad-blockers and tracker blockers
Ad blockers or tracker blockers come as extensions that you can install on your browser of choice. They prevent the websites you visit from harvesting your data. While some sites don’t like visitors with ad blockers and track blockers, you’ll be happier and safer knowing that none of them is collecting your data or tracking your internet activity across the web.
You’ll be surprised just how many third-party data collection companies have access to your data on the websites you use every day. Ghostery is a browser extension you can use to check who is tracking your activity on each website. Give it a spin, and you will see why it’s important to have an ad blocker installed. Examples of good ad and track blockers include disconnect.me, ad block plus, among others.
Only access secure sites
One way to see if a website is safe to access is to check if it has a valid SSL certificate. Don’t worry; you don’t need to learn to code to know if a website is secure. Most modern browsers will warn you or have a visual indicator (mostly a green address bar) showing that the website is secure.
You need to visit secure sites if you care about privacy and online safety. Most of the malicious websites out there won’t have a valid SSL certificate installed. Visiting them will expose you to malware, scams, and other over-the-internet crime.
All in all, your privacy online can be assured if you adopt a proactive approach to protecting yourself. At the same, being vigilant and a bit more careful with how you use your devices is crucial to preventing privacy violations.