Should You Trust the Internet With Your Private Data
Do you know how much data you share online?
If you are like most people, you do almost everything online, from managing your bank accounts, paying your bills, doing regular shopping including your groceries, keeping in touch with friends and family and so many other activities. But to do all this, you must share a lot of your private information.
Consider this, when you conduct some online shopping, you share financial and personal information, like your credit card numbers and your address among other things. Then there’s the information you share in emails, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other social media channels. You have probably shared your mobile phone numbers, birth date, personal photos, address, income, travel plans and private information like health issues all over the Internet.
Every online service you use from social media to your bank or your accountant, to your email provider to the e-commerce websites you like, all collect and store your private information. You trust that they will protect your personal data but how realistic is that expectation?
Facebook’s privacy scandal is a case in point. Facebook admitted to sharing data of 87 million of its subscribers to a political consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica. Unfortunately, this is just one among many privacy breaches and scandals. But it’s not just big tech companies compromising your private data, cybercriminals also are looking for weaknesses in the systems in order to target businesses and individuals. Cyber fraud is one of the world’s fastest growing form of crime.
How to Protect Your Private Data
It is glaringly obvious that your private data is not safe on the internet. But what should you do about it? Since going off-grid is not an option for most people unless you work for the CIA, the next best thing you can do is to take precautions to protect your information. Here are some ways to do that.
Protect Your Passwords
Every account you open online needs a password to set up. Create strong passwords and change them often. Don’t use the same password more than once, to protect you in case one site is hacked. It may be hard to remember all these passwords, so use a secure password manager. Also, don’t forget to encrypt your email to avoid getting hacked by sneaky WiFi routers.
Secure Your Browser or App
If you are not careful, you might be leaving a trove of information on every site you visit. This leaves you vulnerable to advertisers, marketers and even hackers tracking you down. Most browsers and apps have privacy settings that let you determine how much private information you are sharing or willing to share. Select the least amount the data sharing available and turn off third-party cookies to prevent unwanted websites from tracking you.
Watch What You Share On Social Media
Most people share a lot of personal information on social media, which is a mistake, especially among the younger generation. By using your profile information, a hacker can easily steal your identity or know your habits. Sharing your location, or checking in on Facebook from places you visit, makes it easy for you to be tracked.
You should also keep your social media accounts private. Twitter allows you to lock down your account so that your followers or people you follow are the only ones who can see your tweets. The same goes for Instagram and Facebook.
Secure Your Computer and Mobile Devices
Ensure your computer is virus free. Malware leaves you vulnerable to hackers who can hack your computer and steal your files or even your identity. Have an anti-virus program to protect against viruses and keep your software up to date. Turn off location on your mobile phone to avoid being constantly tracked.
In this modern day and age, you have to be vigilant than ever with your private information on the internet. With the advent of sophisticated Web technology that invades our private life from so many angles, never before was our privacy so vulnerable to prying eyes. It is our responsibility to watch out and to be cautious with the websites we trust.
Data breaches are very common and you should, therefore, be proactive in data security. Secure your information, be careful about what you post on social media and constantly change your passwords.