The Internet improves lives by bringing quality entertainment content, shopping opportunities, and chances to connect with friends and family both near and far. However, in order to gain some of these benefits that the Internet has to offer, some websites may try to get you to sacrifice your privacy in exchange for some of these perks.
The debate between privacy and convenience is a long-running debate, but no matter which way you fall, you should feel secure in your Internet privacy. That should not be the case and there are methods that allow you to keep your cyberspace secure while still enjoying everything that the Internet has to offer.
Why Do You Need Privacy While Using the Internet?
People are constantly trying to get your private information to either sell it or fraudulently use it for financial gain. Hackers will use your credit card numbers to purchase things or to get even more private information about you.
Your most important number that can do the most damage is your social security number. You can always cancel a stolen credit card, but fixing fraudulent damage from your social security number is very difficult. With your social security number, you can apply for new credit cards, new bank accounts, purchase a car, and even a house! Safeguarding that number is extremely important.
If your credit card number or social security number is stolen or a new bank account is set up without your knowledge, you’ll have to do a lot of work to fix it. You will first need to call the credit card company, the bank, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a claim. The FTC receives millions of fraud complaints and claims and reports that some of the top fraud cases are the most preventable ones.
In most cases you will have to file a police report too. From there you will have to complete all forms and evidence that they require. That is going to be a lot of work on your end, so its best to prevent this from happening by following all safety protocols.
Hide Your Identity on the Internet When Possible
While social media is one of the greatest things that the Internet has to offer as it connects people to one another, it can also be one of the most dangerous places because hackers and identity thieves, as well as corporate intelligence, can glean your personal information off of social media profiles.
It is perfectly fine to post pictures from your high school reunion or make sentimental posts about childhood pets, but when adding profile information that could also double the risk for identity theft. You should not post private details about your life on social media because of the ease of access that this provides thieves. While fun to discuss in posts, make sure that you are staying safe with your information.
If you are going on a trip, don’t post about in before the trip or during the trip. You don’t want people to know that your house is unattended or will be unattended.
Stop Ad Trafficking and Targeting in its Tracks
Websites and marketing agencies have teamed up to personalize the ads that you see on the sides of your screen and they will have similar content to the sites that you visit most often. Some companies can even obtain this information without your knowledge. You can prevent seeing these personalized ads by:
- Browsing in incognito mode
- Opting out of social media apps’ ad personalization options in the app settings, which can be done on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and several other platforms which feature in-feed advertisement
- Purposefully avoiding answering surveys and falsely answering other questions that algorithms may use to generate content specific to you
Create Individual Accounts with Unique, Anonymous Screen Names
Although this may require some paper organization so that you do not get various login information confused, you should create unique usernames and passwords for each service that you need.
Some online services ask if you want to connect with Facebook, however many of these sites will also access unnecessary things like your Friends list and other information that may not be needed by the platform to do everything that you need to do. If you create a unique ID, the site cannot access information that it does not need to access anyway.
Be Honest About Important Things
When it comes to online shopping and shipping information as well as credit card information or anything else that is based around your genuine identity, it is in your best interest not to lie. In scenarios like these, you can shop in incognito mode to prevent further data collection.
Further, you should not allow online shopping platforms to store your card information. That way, if you ever lose your device or your device gets hacked, your financial information would not be at risk.
Browse the Web on a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The Internet has led to the rise of, among other things, online anonymity. This anonymity can extend to even your Internet provider via a VPN. Your very own virtual private network is easy to install and use daily so that your Internet service provider cannot monitor your every private interaction with the Internet.
Installing and using your own personal virtual private network is one of the best things that you can do to insure your cybersecurity. With this, you can hide your IP address and accomplish every Internet task that you would ever need to do, but with the comfort of mind that you are doing everything in complete anonymity.
Life is About Balancing Privacy and Connection
These simple things should help you maintain your cybersecurity without having to sacrifice any experience over the Internet or be perceived as a paranoid person trying to preserve their identity over the Internet. Through these easy changes, you can have peace of mind as a citizen of the Internet knowing that your information is safe.
Virtual private networks, incognito mode, and personalized settings can make the web a fun, safe place for you and your whole family. Browse in the safety, comfort, and privacy of your own connection now.