In today’s digital era, data is even more valuable than money. Almost all the industry leaders in technology have businesses that are predominantly data driven. To normal people like us, it may not mean much, but if you look at the bigger picture your data portrays an accurate picture of you which can be used against you in various ways. Your identity can be stolen. Your bank account information can be tracked and your money, stolen. The paranoia just never ends. Then, it becomes a necessity to protect your privacy when you browse the internet.
Moreover, with the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica controversy, it makes us question that, are we even safe online if a big firm like Facebook cannot keep our data safe, how can we as individuals prevent our privacy online?
But do not worry, as individuals, there are various methods by which you can, at your end maintain your online privacy. I am here to help you out in this process.
- Using a personal VPN
Whenever you browse the internet, you should make it your habit to use a VPN in the background. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. What VPN does for you is that it creates a tunnel between your machine and the VPN server you have chosen to use. Thus, your internet browsing sessions become secure. Moreover, VPN also does a great job of hiding your IP address. This may help a lot from attackers who now, cannot know your IP address and cause you any kind of damage. In short, a VPN service makes you kind of anonymous on the internet. Using a VPN may not guarantee full protection against attacks, but it is definitely the right step towards maintaining your privacy online.
Texting today has become an essential part of our life. This is mainly due to the advent of Instant Messengers. But, do we even stop to think for a second that the messages we send to the other person can be intercepted by a third party? In short, the answer is YES, they can be. So, what can we do about it? The answer is simple and that is embracing those messengers which support end-to-end encryption. So, what is end-to-end encryption? In simple words, the text you send to the other person is encrypted as soon as you press the send button and is only decrypted when it arrives on the device of the other person. So if a third party intercepts your messages what they will see will be a gibberish text. The most popular instant messengers that are available for download are Whatsapp and Signal. Signal is one of the very rare apps that has been approved by Edward Snowden.
- Tor Browser
The main aim of Tor browser is to make you anonymous on the internet. It uses an Onion Routing Protocol where the messages you send are wrapped in various layers of encryption just like an onion has various layers. The name of the browser is also derived from its protocol hence The Onion Router (TOR). The basic principle of operation of Tor browser is that it sends your messages to the various servers and in that process, it encrypts those messages. By doing so, it becomes really difficult to trace back the message address to you. To use this service, you simply have to download the Tor browser. The only setback you might experience is a little slow internet speed because your message moves through a lot of servers.
- 2-Factor Authentication
If you want to enable an extra layer of security to your logins to various websites then, 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the way to go. Various major websites now support 2-Factor Authentication. In this process when you log in to your respective website, then a One Time Password will be required along with your required login credentials. The One Time Password is available only for a few seconds and then it expires and in its place, a new password is generated. So, even if someone has your login credentials, they cannot log in to your account without the One Time Password. You should immediately go to the settings page of your account and enable the 2-Factor Authentication.
- Checking The Website
Whenever you are performing any transaction on a particular website, look at its URL. If the URL starts with https instead of http, then it means that the website is secure and you can go ahead and perform your transaction. You should also check for the domain of the website, if it looks a little fishy, you should perform a quick Google search and visit the website from there and look for the differences in the domain name.
In this digital era, protecting your privacy may seem as an impossible task, but maintaining anonymity and performing quick checks and using tools that help you in achieving the same can make all the difference. Remember, your privacy is yours and only yours and you should be careful with it when you browse the internet so that your data does not go into the wrong hands.