In a time when security breaches, false media, and public outrage over social media scandals is prominent, it is more important than ever to protect your online privacy. After all, your digital footprint impacts everything from your professional career to your relationships with your family and peers. Although it may seem time consuming and inconvenient to manage your online identity, it’s much less of a burden than having your identity stolen, becoming the center of a social media scandal, or losing your job. Like it or not, the internet affects all facets of our lives.
At Presence Global, we understand the importance of managing your online identity and the personal, private information that goes along with it. That’s why we have pulled together a few best practices that will send you down the road to keeping your online privacy secure. Your digital footprint will be less likely to get hacked, and life disasters can be averted.
1. Download and use an antivirus software
Antivirus software is a program or set of programs designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove viruses and malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, and more. Using antivirus software on your computer and phone will keep your information secure and less vulnerable to hacking. Not sure where to begin? McAfee and Norton are some great, inexpensive options.
2. Deactivate autofill
Autofill may be convenient when you’re in a rush, but for it to work, your information and passwords must be kept online. This leaves you vulnerable to online security breaches. So, disable autofill and take a few extra seconds to fill out your forms or find a more secure solution. LastPass is a great application and provides each user with security challenges around existing passwords and personal information to keep your data safe. It can even generate random passwords for your accounts to reduce the chance of a breach significantly.
3. Turn off Your GPS
Turning off/disallowing the use of GPS on your phone and computer will help protect your online privacy. Typically, your GPS, by default, will broadcast where you are on social media when you post. By disabling this feature, you will ultimately prevent companies and people from tracking your location.
4. Use private browsing modes
Utilizing private browsing will improve your online privacy and protect your identity. Some browsers such as Google Chrome allow private browsing (i.e., Incognito), while other search engines like DuckDuckGo and TOR do not track browsing history. Take advantage of these options to minimize possible data breaches.
5. Use a VPN to make browsing anonymous
Protect your online privacy with a VPN or virtual private network. A VPN is a technology that allows you to send and receive information online without disclosing your online identity or location. It creates a secure connection over a less-secure network between your computer and the internet. There are several VPN providers to choose from. Check out CNET’s rankings of VPN providers here.
6. Use public Wi-Fi and hotspots with caution
Public Wi-Fi and hotspots disclose your online identity. Public Wi-Fi is usually open, and third parties can intercept traffic. Use your own hotspot when possible, and if you must use public Wi-Fi, use a private VPN service to secure your traffic. Also, make sure you use complex passwords, disable auto-complete forms, and ensure that the sites you are accessing using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Always make sure your browser is up to date and avoid logging into sites with highly sensitive information such as your bank account. Use two-factor authentication for any sites that offer it.
7. Optimize your passwords
To protect your online identity, use a strong password generator to create your passwords, and update them frequently. Do not use the same password for all of your accounts and clear your cookies. LastPass is a password vault that offers regular security checks and can even provide strong, randomly generated passwords for all of your applications and login information.
8. Do not open spam emails
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it is vital that you “think before you click.” When you receive emails that appear to be spam, mark them as spam immediately. Do not open or click any links in a spam email.
9. Monitor your social media
Social media is a significant risk factor for online identity theft and hacking, and it is crucial to be vigilant with your social media usage. Avoid oversharing and sharing information such as your maiden name, children’s names, and location. This information gives online identity thieves what they need to answer security questions for your bank account and other personal identity information.
In a 2018 study, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that approximately 52 percent of respondents shared personally identifiable information through social media sites. The same survey found that about 48 percent of respondents shared information about their children, while nearly 33 percent shared their location information. A total of 42 percent of respondents shared information about their travel plans through social media. Do not become a statistic. Monitor, audit, and control your social media accounts.
10. Manage your online footprint
Download the Presence app to manage your online identity. With Presence, you will get a visual tool to help visualize and manage your online privacy on social media and across the entire internet. Presence Global will give you the ability to detect, protect (by auditing security and privacy settings) and control your online identity—download the Presence app from the Apple App store to get started.
Join the movement #privacyfirst