In this day and age of technology so much of our lives on are the internet, we spend a lot of our time on Social Media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so on where we are sharing our lives. Along with all the accounts, we have like online banking, credit card accounts, and you name it, where we are putting in all our information to the websites that we visit on daily bases.
So how are we going to protect our privacy from the general public? That is a question everyone should have in mind when connecting to the internet, and to answer that let’s take a look at some ways in which we can make our internet time and privacy more secure.
Privacy Settings on Social media:
I don’t know of anybody that has an internet connection that isn’t on one of the many Social Media platforms that are available, even our grandparents are getting online these days. So with this in mind we need to take a look at our privacy settings on the social media platforms that we visit on a regular base, just to make sure that we are not broadcasting our lives to the whole word, and to secure our privacy.
Here are some tips to think about when you’re on any of your social media platforms.
- Who you want to see your stuff: You don’t really want the whole world to see the stuff that you share online, so take a moment and think about who really needs to see your post and who doesn’t, and then make the necessary changes in your privacy settings on all of your social sites.
- Keep your personal information to yourself: Your family and close friends already know your personal life so there is no reason to let the general public know. The more information about yourself that is shared online just makes it easier for hackers to learn more about, and then use that to hack your identity and data. Even stalkers will use this information.
- Once posted, it’s there forever: Sometimes we forget that once we shared something on a social network that it will be there forever. Future employers or even new friends and family might stumble on this later in your life, and that may not be a good thing. I read that researchers have found that 70% of background checks from job application have led to rejections due to some of the things that they posted online. Something to keep in mind when sharing those selfies. 🙂
- Manage your friends: You may have different groups of friends like friends from work, or friends from your neighborhood, and so forth. If you want to keep them separate from what you share with each other, think about setting them up in groups so only certain people will see things relating to that particular group of friends.
Now with that in mind let’s take a look on how to view and change your settings on your favorite Social Medias sites. Here is a great post I came across the other day that explains how to do this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, and LinkedIn. You can click here to view the post,
Hear what Rik Ferguson has to say about Social Sharing:
What are Cookies, (besides the ones we love to eat) that relate to the internet, simply put they are a small piece of data sent from the website you visit to your browser, so when you visit that website again your browser will send the cookie back to notify it of your previous activity on that website. This way Web sites can track you, which means that hackers can access this and also track you.
Some of these cookies will have your login information and any other data that you might have entered while visiting that site. Now some of these cookies are needed to make your browsing easier to navigate, and save time, but others are just there telling the world where you have been and what you are looking at. For example, when you visited an online store and are looking at a particular item and maybe you purchase it or not, you then go to Facebook (or any other website) later and low and behold up pops an advertisement for the same thing you were just looking at. These are ones we want to get rid of or at least block.
Each browser has its own way of blocking cookies so below I have listed the most popular browsers with links to the most updated instructions for preventing new cookies and deleting any existing cookies that have been installed on your browser.
If you are using a different browser than any of the following you can find there setting by going to their tools menu and type cookies into the search box.
- Google Chrome: To prevent new cookies from being installed on the browser and to delete existing cookies that have already been installed click here to find the steps. https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95647?hl=en
- FireFox: For preventing new cookies click here https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-and-disable-cookies-website-preferences. And to delete existing cookies click here https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/delete-cookies-remove-info-websites-stored
- Internet Explorer: To delete existing cookies and prevent new ones from being installed click here http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/internet-explorer/delete-manage-cookies
- Safari: To delete existing cookies and prevent new ones click here http://help.apple.com/safari/mac/8.0/#/sfri11471
- Microsoft Edge: In the upper right-hand corner click on the three-dot More action button, select Settings at the bottom of the menu, from there click on advanced settings, scroll down to the Cookies field, press the drop down arrow, and from there you can choose your settings. I recommend selecting Block only third-party cookies instead of Block all cookies because on your regular sites that you visit you will want those cookies installed to enable you to stay log in and so forth for a faster and seamless experience.
Going Incognito Mode:
Another great way to hide browsing activity is to use the Incognito Mode in Google Chrome. This will keep sites from tracking your behavior while surfing and keep the sites URL from being recorded in your search history. To activate this, you can press ctrl + n, or in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, click on your username, and then on the incognito button in the drop down menu. Google will then open a new window in incognito mode.
You can also try Ghostery; this is an extension that can be added to Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Android, Opera, or Safari. Once you download it and activate the plug-in you will be able to block any or all trackers on any given site that you visit. There will be a purple box in the upper right corner of your screen which will display the companies that are tracking you, and from there you can enable, or disable Ghostery.
You can also go into the setting and chose what you want to be blocked, but keep in mind there are some that you will want to keep, because they can be useful in situations like your social network feeds, or browser based games, you will want to keep these active.
Check out this video on Ghostery,
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for your internet browsing:
Using a VPN will help in protecting your privacy by using a private network service that can keep your website traffic safe from the government agency that wants to snoop on your activities, along with keeping you safer from hackers and scammers.
The VPN will create a secure and encrypted connection between you and their server, so it will be like you are sitting at their terminal while on the internet. This way while you are connected via the network no one will be able to see your activities or track your every move and your actual IP address will be cloaked.
VPN’s are also great when you are using a Wi-Fi hotspot or public Wi-Fi network where you want some extra protection.
There are quite a few services out there to choose from, you will find some free services, but most have a monthly plan starting as low as $5.00 dollars a month. PCmag.com has done a great review of the top ten services that they recommend. You can check it out here.
Sharing your Social Security number:
We hear this every day about not sharing your SSN with no one. You should only share your social security number with institutes like your bank, a credit bureau, an entity that has to report to the IRS or a legit company that has to do a background check on you for the federal government.
Even when they ask for just the last four digits, make sure you know the institute is legit and not some random individual. The reason is that if they have your birthdate, and where you were born, they will be able to hack the rest of your number using a computer with the right software. It may take a while but if they are determined enough they will eventually achieve their goal. And with your social security number they could possibly get access to your bank accounts, sign up for credit cards in your name and rack up other debts.
How this is accomplished is that the first set of numbers refers to where you applied for your SSN. (Usually, this is the city you were born in). The next set of numbers is assigned to all the numbers given out at a certain time in your general area (therefore when you were born). So as you can see if they know your birth date and address they have a good chance of obtaining the remanding numbers. So think twice about who you give your SSN to.
Using a password on your computer:
Locking down your computer or other devices with a password that must be enter upon turning them on, or waking them up from hibernation or sleep. This will help protect your data in case someone gets a hold of your device or you happen to lose your smartphone or tablet (god forbid).
So if you’re sharing a dorm or an apartment with someone you might want to make sure this feature is turned on. I know it can be a hassle entering your password every time but it could save you a lot of grief in the long.
Use two or more email accounts:
There is no reason that everyone has to know your personal email account, like for instance say that financial customer service rep you contacted the other day decides to look you up on your Facebook account using your email address, from there they can gather more info about you.
Or maybe you sent an angry letter to some corporation via email, and some angry employee decided to track you down through your primary email address to get back at you. You just never know about some individuals.
So you can see that having more than one email address could come in handy to keep your most personal stuff to your main email account where you only let the people closest to you know it, and use the other ones for your social media accounts and so on.
Keep in mind everything you do online is traceable.
If you don’t want companies knowing about your personal information then don’t put it out on the internet, it’s a shame but all our online activities is traceable and visible to those persons that are hell bent on retrieving your information, just keep this in mind and learn to censor yourself and this will help keep your privacy under control.
I hope this has helped in giving you some ideas on ways to protect your online privacy in the future if you any questions or would like to add to this article please take a moment and leave them below. I would love to hear some other ways to protecting our privacy while we are on the internet.