Three Ways to Protect Your Data Online
Privacy in the Internet age is becoming increasingly important. With advertising agencies tracking data across multiple websites and data analysis firms buying massive amounts of data for the purpose of targeted advertisements and news articles, there are many opportunities for shady companies to grab some of your data that should otherwise be private. Luckily, there are some tried and tested methods that you can use to keep your data safe online. Privacy and online safety techniques range from simple to technologically complex, but many companies have recently begun making data protection services easier to access for anyone who wants to use them. Here are three simple ways that you can protect your data and privacy online.
- Regularly wipe your browser cookies | Cookies may sound benevolent but are used by most companies to track exactly how you navigate around the website that cookie is specific to. This allows the company to collect data on how you use the website. Some Internet service providers can even use “super cookies” – cookies at the browser level – to track how you use the Internet as a whole. While these cookies are mostly harmless, they do harvest huge amounts of user data from each and every consumer. One way that you can curb this data collection process is by regularly deleting your browser cookies. Every browser on the market has this option available, and can usually be done with the click of a single menu button. You’ll be surprised at how much storage space on your computer is freed by deleting cookies from the various websites you regularly peruse.
- Use a trusted VPN | VPNs, or virtual private networks, allow you to access the Internet more privately than through regular public networks. These special networks add an extra layer of security and anonymity to networks that can track the websites you visit. One of the methods that VPNs do this is by connecting you to the public network via a separate Internet node that is not located in the same physical space that you are in. This separate node is also in use by many other users simultaneously, so tracking is nearly impossible. There are many VPNs available, and some browsers even have built-in VPNs for even easier use. However, many of these services still harvest data. Find a trusted, paid-access VPN so you don’t have to worry about the service actively harvesting your data and selling it.
- Pick a secure browser | Many Internet browsers harvest large amounts of data about users and how they browse the web. Most browsers do use user data to figure out how to better serve users, but that information is technically yours to use. When you’re deciding on a browser to use, take a look at how secure its basic version is and how much flexibility it offers in terms of privacy extensions. When you’re satisfied with the browser’s security and ease of use, then install it and set it up to your preferences. Once you’ve decided on the browser that’s right for you, there are a few tasks you should complete to privatize your details. You can opt out of many of the data services browsers utilize by combing through the security menus within the browser, disabling services you don’t want to use. You can also turn off services like password storage and automatic connection to networks. Finally, you can install some browser extensions that notify you of tracking services or cross-website data harvesting apps and block them for you.
Many websites and services that are Internet-based harvest data at a previously unheard-of scale. When you use the Internet, you must be constantly aware of these data-grabbing services and how you can keep your data as secure as possible. With these tips, you’ll be able to keep the majority of your user data private.