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11 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Online Privacy

Nov 26, 2020 8:10:30 PM

We all have things we want to keep private. 

  • How much money we make
  • Financial information
  • Mistakes we have made in the past

Whatever the reason is, you should have the right to protect your online privacy and keep this information out of the public eye.

What is Online Privacy?

Also known as Internet Privacy/Digital Privacy, your online privacy tells you how far your information (Personal/financial/digital) on the internet is safe and private.

With much of our browsing history and personal data at potential risk these days, online privacy has become a growing concern among many people.

Several people tend to underestimate the importance of online privacy.

However, it is ideal for people to be aware of how much information they are sharing online - not just on social networking sites, but through browsing as well.

This article will emphasize the importance of online privacy and also take you through certain tips that will help enhance it.

Let's get started.

Public Concerns Over Internet Privacy

A recent poll of American Internet Users revealed that 81 percent of the participants do not have any control over the data collected by many private companies.

What is worse?

The number escalated to 84 percent when asked if they had control over how the government acquired their data.

Right to be forgotten: Data privacy as a human right

Although a relatively new phrase, ‘the right to be forgotten’ grows in relevance every time someone visits a website.

Many tech companies keep track of customer information that dates back several years, including every site they visited, their shopping habits, preferences, political and religious views, and so on.

The right to be forgotten is the right to ask the companies to surrender this information and delete it.

There have been several cases where people have requested that their past personal stories involving petty crimes or accidental, embarrassing viral stories be taken down from the internet.

Online Privacy vs. Information Security

When we talk about internet privacy, there are two types of information.

  1. Personal information that includes identifiers such as an address, IP address, etc.
  2. Sensitive information that includes very private data, i.e., medical records, political views, sexual orientation, etc.


We often see how online privacy and information security overlap since both are sometimes interdependent.

One affects another sometimes. Simply put, you can differentiate between them in this way.

Privacy is how you want the company you are dealing with to keep your data and information to itself and not share it on public platforms or with third parties.

In the event of a breach, privacy is lost, but security is maintained.

The largest known leak in Facebook history

In March of 2018, it was made public that Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign.

Read: How to Disable Facebook Facial Recognition Software

Security, on the other hand, implies the next step. In case the data shared includes, say, financial information or your residential address, then both privacy and security have been compromised.

The Biggest Online Privacy Issues

As stated earlier, online privacy issues related to the internet exist on a spectrum.

A variety of data is revealed, including information that you do not wish to share - data that you do not mind sharing like social media accounts, nuisance privacy compromises like targeted ads, and public embarrassment or breaches that affect your personal reputation.

Website Data Collection

Search engines not only maintain a log of what you look for on the internet, but these free people search sites also contain details of the websites you visit.

In addition, if the search engine provider also makes the browser like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc., then the browsing history will be held by them irrespective of whether you searched on the site.

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Social Media Data Harvesting

A string of scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica Story where data was used to manipulate votes, cyberbullying, and doxing, has led to social media privacy being in the limelight in recent years.

In addition, many of the social network sites have had data breaches, thereby leaving millions of users exposed.

Cookies/Online Tracking

Usually, cookies are harmless. They are a code that gives websites the information on your browsing history and, in turn, they help the user in remembering logins, identifications, preferences, settings of languages, and so on.

Cookies could be a concern when there is a third party setting involved.

When you visit a website, your browser contains information from various sources, which dictates the ads you see.

This phenomenon has been questioned by many privacy advocacy groups since companies like Google collect huge amounts of user data and deliver personalized ads based on the user’s browsing history.

Read: How do I remove my phone number from telemarketing lists?

Sources of Data Collection

All of us download applications onto our mobile phones. As a matter of fact, the average smartphone user uses about nine apps per day and about 30 a month.

We have our personal favorites in apps, and we are amazed at how they make our lives better.

However, did you know that they know much more about us?

Many apps request location details (which makes sense in the case of a taxi app), usernames, and email addresses.

The subsequent level of information is the ‘risky permission’. This implies that the information would prove risky when it falls into the wrong hands.

An example of such risky permission includes access to a user’s microphone/recorder, camera, and contacts.

Here, the rule of thumb is to consider approving the permissions to an app company/ provider to hold this information.

If there is anything that makes you uncomfortable, you can deny access either instantly or through the app’s settings.

Identity theft

This has been a crime before the dawn of the internet, but the latest technology has opened up new avenues for thieves and con artists.

Identity Theft online occurs when some get access to your personal information and commits fraud.

This information could include your driving license, banking details, tax numbers, or anything else that may be required to impersonate you online.

In the event of identity theft, there is a chance that your crucial information might end up on the dark web for sale.

--Your information could be sourced in the following ways:

1. Phishing

In this method, criminals try to pose as reputable contacts such as banks and financial institutions to trick victims into submitting sensitive personal information or opening malicious attachments.

2. Malware

Malicious software, or simply, malware can access your computer’s operating system (OS).

3. Pharming

Here, your information is hijacked using a virus without your knowledge, and most times, it is done through fake sites.

Our Best Online Privacy Tips

Security threats online can often make you feel despondent. Here are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of online fraud.

1. Use DNT Setting

DNT, or do not track settings are available on online browsers. All you need to do is enable them on your browser - Chrome, Firefox, or any other.

This way, you tell the sites and any other third-party partners your preference not to be tracked 24x7.

2. Use cookie-blocking browser extensions

There are several cookie-blocking browser extensions available that will help put tracking and gathering information at bay.

3. Opt-out of app tracking

As stated earlier, apps do have a lot of access to information regarding you.

You can put a hold on this by going into your app settings and choosing to opt-out of the app tracking permissions, especially location sharing.

4. Go through privacy policies carefully

Yet another common mistake made when it comes to online browsing is our nature to simply click ‘agree’ at the end of the user agreement and privacy policies without reading and reviewing them properly.

We advise you to look at any document before you click on the ‘agree’ button and move forward.

5. Remove Personal Information from people search sites

Privacy is becoming scarce on the online platform these days. The majority of applications and websites have been collecting your personal information and even location once you log in.

If you want to remove your personal information from the internet and protect your online privacy, the easiest thing to do is to hire -internet information removal services.

NewReputation will remove and monitor your information across over 100 data brokers on the web. 

If you are running short of time and cannot read it entirely (some user agreements could be super long and boring), we suggest you run a background check on what the app or website asks its users and decide if you are comfortable with the data they collect from you.

6. Access the internet via VPN

For those of you who do not know, a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, conveniently diverts your online activity to a different route through an encrypted virtual tunnel.

This lets you keep your IP address and location a secret from any website you choose to visit.

It also protects you from hackers, and in some scenarios, it can give access to services and websites that may be unavailable in your resident country.

7. Browse via incognito mode

When you browse online, you have the option to switch to ‘incognito mode’ and privately browse websites.

Such a mode will not maintain a record of your browsing data. Thus, your online history is not stored and remembered.

8. Use a different search engine

In case you are concerned about what a search engine might know about you, it might be a good idea to shift to an alternate search engine.

0Even when done occasionally, it might prove useful. DuckDuckGo, for example, promotes itself as a very private and secure alternative to Google’s search engines.


9. Be wary of what you click online

Phishing (or simply sourcing your sensitive data when you are online) could happen when you click on certain, risky websites.

Therefore, it is advisable to tread carefully and not click on anything that is even remotely suspicious. It is worth noting that many phishing threats pose as ads.

Users can opt-out of people search sites using internet information removal services.


10. Secure your devices and use antivirus software

Last but not least, you should definitely have an updated and industry-leading antivirus software on all your devices. Whether it is your mobile or computer, run the antivirus software regularly and carry out scans frequently.


Summing Up: Importance of Online Privacy

It is essential to realize that the online privacy of data is as important as real-world privacy.

Just like how you have confidential conversations behind closed doors and resist sharing your financial details with everyone, you should remember to do the same with online data.

It is important to realize that nothing comes free.

Whether it is downloading applications on your phone, using Gmail, or social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, all of it implies that your data is being shared.

This information is shared between multiple platforms and leads to bespoke, targeted ads that remember your search history.

What’s worse?

This information is sold from one company to another without your consent, which undoubtedly qualifies as identity theft!

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