Ways to Protect Your Privacy On The Internet: Your Personal Information Is A Commodity

Privacy is all about your information. As long that information stays inside your head, you have nothing to worry about. The problem is, you can't keep everything inside your head.

In the modern internet connected world. knowledge is shared and distributed. To be part of the active community, you need to at least expose yourself to some degree. You may use search engines to scout the web, register to social media to keep in touch with friends, join forums to share experience and more.

But here, increasingly, your privacy that includes your personal data, has become a commodity. The more you use internet services, the more you're exposing your data.

In order to protect your valuable personal information, the following list should help you get started:

Privacy Audit On Your Devices

Your devices include your computer, notebook, tablet, and especially your smartphone.

These computers, to some degree, know more about you than your closest friend. You device may have installed apps that store your email and password combination, track your activity throughout the day, receive and send private messages, store confidential documents, take sensitive photos or videos, and many more.

To make sure that your device can keep your data to itself and to nothing else, you need to make use of device encryption, restricting permission to data-collecting sensors, removing apps that aren't anymore updated or you no longer use.

Install antivirus software to eliminate incoming attacks, and make sure that real-time protection is enabled and the database definition updated. You can also use firewall to keep any data that comes in and out, within your knowledge.

Only Use Software And Apps You Trust

Whether you're installing new software or app on your phone or your computer, make sure that you're getting (downloading) it from a source you trust. Legitimate-looking software can sometimes turn out to be a complete scam. And cracked software or apps that are downloaded from places other than the official app store, can pose huge risk.

If you don't know where your software comes from, and you don't know what it's really doing, there is no telling what it would do to your computer or phone, or what data it take from you without your knowledge.

Use Strong Passwords And Activate Two-Factor Authentication

To the people that want to get access to your data, the most important thing they need, is your password.

With so many online services requiring passwords, you may have used easy-to-remember passwords, or used the same password more multiple services. It's never become so important for you to create a strong password, and make different passwords for different services.

In order for you to remember all those passwords (or login credentials), you can use password manager of your choice.

Read: Tips In Creating A Strong Password That's Hard To Guess But Easy To Remember

The next thing when considering passwords, is to use two-factor authentication. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft and others have this feature. What it does, is when you log in, you'll also need to enter a unique code that the service sends to your phone.

Strong passwords with two-factor authentication enabled should work beautifully together in keeping others from accessing your account.

Find An Alternative To Google

Google is useful, and has never become so much more powerful when the web grows larger. But the thing about Google is that it tracks you so it can target you with relevant ads. Any information, data or query you input to its search engine or its variety of products, are meant to profile you so it can understand your interest and habit.

If you're really concerned about Google in tracking you, you may require to find an alternative. There are some you can choose that have less tracking ability, or some that may not track you at all.

But if you still want to use Google, you may at least put it to a good use. One example is to set up a Google alert for your name. This simple way will notify you if anyone might be saying about you on the web. It’s just a matter of telling Google what to look for.

Read: The Many Ways Google Tracks You. Knowing How Invasive It Is Can Help You Protect Your Privacy

Careful With What You Share On Social Media

By registering to social media networks, you should at least provide your username and password, and your name and birthday date to the very least. But if you care about your privacy and social media in targeting you to advertisers worries you, try to not share more than needed.

The more information you share on your social media profile, the more active you engage with others' post, all that will make the social media able to know more about your interest.

And if you do use social media, make sure that only your friends can see what you’re doing. In the privacy setting on the social media of your choice, there should be at least some ways to do this.

Pay With Cash

On the internet, cashless payment is something that is really convenient. However, if you care about your privacy, you should refrain yourself from using it, and instead opt to use cash.

Credit card companies can sell your purchase data to advertisers. If you don’t want companies knowing what things you've bought and where is your favorite store, you should stick the old fashion way - use cash.

Ask Why Someone Needs Your Information

Wherever you are on the web, if you're asked to provide personal information, be cautious.

Whether its in person, on the phone or online, anything you give out will be noted. Sometimes information like your name, email address or phone number is used purely for marketing purposes; in that case, expect your real and virtual mailboxes to be packed with junk mail.

To maintain your privacy, limit the information you give to the very minimum. Unless it’s your bank, a credit bureau, or a company that wants to do a background check on you, chances are they don't really need it.

Secure Your Connection

Encrypted connections using HTTPS keep your browsing activity safe, but not all websites offer this. Consequently, your ISP or others on the same local network may be able to know everything you’re doing. There are three ways to prevent this: use VPN, Tor or Proxy.

A VPN creates a secure tunnel from your device to the internet. Your traffic passes through the VPN and won't be visible to anyone else. If you're considering a VPN, make sure that the service can be trusted, doesn't track or keep logs about your activity.

The second is to use Tor. unlike a VPN, Tor routes your traffic through multiple nodes, each one adding a new layer of privacy. It’s the closest to being anonymous online, but the downside is a slower internet experience.

And third is proxy. It's a server (a computer system or an application) that acts as an intermediary for your requests by seeking resources from other servers.

Read: Staying Anonymous: Proxy, VPN Or Tor?

And if you don’t want anyone with physical access to your computer to see where you’re hanging out online, you should enable "private browsing," a feature that is already available in all major web browsers. It deletes cookies, temporary internet files and browsing history the moment you close the window or tab.