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Stay Safe Online: How to Protect Your Identity From Theft and Surveillance

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Are you concerned about how much of your data is available on the Internet and vulnerable to identity theft or unauthorized access?

Did you ever feel vulnerable because your social media feeds seem to know what you are looking for online? For instance, after you searched online for ways to remedy your back pain, advertisements including back pain exercises and pain relief medication started appearing on your newsfeed.

Staying safe online is a priority, especially when you engage in financial transactions on the Internet.

For example, using offshore betting sites is risky because these web pages may have few client safety measures to guarantee the secrecy of your information. If you engage in online gambling, you may want to learn how to secure your online betting account.

A study spearheaded  by the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA) showed that user privacy concerns are rapidly growing:

  • Sixty-eight percent of users ranked not understanding how their data is handled online as their chief worry. For comparison, only 57 percent ranked loss of personal income as their biggest concern.
  • Forty-five percent of those surveyed in 2016 are more concerned about their data security than 2015.
  • Thirty-seven percent cite industries capturing and revealing private data with other companies as a critical source of concern.

Some search engines provide options for content filtering in their settings to prevent you from accessing questionable websites. However, if you want to protect your online privacy, you must also supplement the filtering option with other proactive measures.

Below is a list of points you can consider when securing your online privacy.

Use Encryption

Non-encrypted messages and voice calls are vulnerable to site and government surveillance. Developers designed an end-to-end encrypted system of communication to be indecipherable to anyone except the transmitter and receiver.

Consider using encrypted communication if you are a correspondent, an offshore worker, or want to communicate discreetly.

Avoid Sharing Too Much Personal Information

Oversharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may enable malicious hackers to acquire personally identifiable information. Public posting sensitive information helps criminals hijack your identity or access your banking information. Nowadays, you can search for someone with past history of identity theft using services like Lookupinmate.

Disregard the “About Me” fields in your online profiles to safeguard your data. You are not required to disclose the year or location of your birth, which may make you an obvious target for fraudulent activity.

Investigate various privacy options as well. You might want to restrict who can see your content to individuals you have personally invited.

Learn How To Browse Safely

Phishing is one method hackers apply to compromise your private information. Fraudsters use phishing to con you into delivering sensitive information like credit card numbers.

Fraud attacks are usually in the form of bogus emails purporting to be from banks, payment service providers, or other financial entities. These emails state that you should click a link and authenticate your account information to keep your account from being frozen or locked.

Hover your cursor over a questionable link to see the target URL before clicking it. Do not click if it doesn’t correspond to the financial web page you use.

Consider Changing Your Browser

Like most internet users, you use Google as your primary browser. However, you are not required to choose Google. Users prefer anonymous browsers for various reasons, one of which is privacy.

Your browsing data or clicks are not collected or shared by anonymous browsers. Anonymous search engines can also prevent advertisers from installing ad trackers on your websites.

Use A Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network (VPN) provides online privacy and confidentiality by converting a public internet connection into a secure network. VPNs conceal your Internet Protocol (I.P.) address, making your internet activity virtually untraceable.

Using a VPN is especially important when using public Wi-Fi at a communal location. A VPN makes it difficult for scammers to infiltrate your internet privacy and view your private information.

Managing Your Online Data

Data is a broad topic that encapsulates so many details. It is necessary to consider these details separately before reviewing how each area relates to information security.

PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION (PII)

Personally identifiable information, also known as PII, includes the following data:

  • Name
  • Permanent home address
  • Email address
  • Phone numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Marital status
  • Social Security numbers (US); National Insurance numbers (UK)
  • Other details about your medical condition, relatives, occupation, and education

Your online data may be lost via multiple data leakage or stolen slowly over time through phishing attempts. All those information provides attackers with enough data to commit a crime.

Examples of cybercrime may include identity fraud, secure financing in your name and compromising user profiles that depend on correct answers to secret questions.

BROWSING ACTIVITIES AND WEB PAGE VISITS

Hackers and spies can hijack an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which monitors online behavior.

There is little that users can do about ISP-level intrusions. However, the websites you access can also track you through text files known as cookies.

Cookies are text files that your search engine downloads and stores to identify your computer whenever you use a computer network.

Browser plugins can also monitor your internet behavior across web pages.

Online Financial Transactions

Conducting transactions online may require credentials for financial service providers such as PayPal or credit card details, including card information, expiration date, and passcodes.

Malicious hackers who use phishing and bogus web pages to hack financial services accounts can obtain sensitive information when they are not secured.

Once your account information is acquired, cybercriminals can conduct unauthorized actions, produce clone cards, or sell your data to interested parties on the Dark Web.

Final Statement

Everyone reserves the right to protect their privacy from advertisers, hackers, bots, and merchants. The best approach to securing your online privacy is not to use a mix of digital security tools and skills tailored to your internet behavior.

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