Why Internet Privacy Matters in 2021

If you’re using the internet for anything, you’re at risk of cyberattacks. Why? Your data is visible to other web users and amongst these users are malicious third-parties who can use it against you.

When a third-party intercepts your data, they can use it for identity theft, financial fraud, doxing, etc.  That’s why you must pay attention to internet privacy discussions, suggestions and also adopt reliable online security practices.

Do you know that cybercriminals are not the only people to be scared of online? The Government and different companies are also after your data for many reasons. While the authorities mostly track people to control them, the companies do it to confuse and distract them with useless suggestions (the ads).

So, before conducting any activity online, you need to understand the dangers lurking on the internet and how to protect yourself against them. You must adopt effective measures to hide your digital trails. If you can do that, you’ll save yourself from cybercriminals, Government spies, and ambitious digital marketers.

In this article, I’ll give you insights on what internet privacy means, the online threats to avoid, and the measures to adopt. We’ll also discover how one unknowingly contributes to exposing their own data to malicious third parties.

What is Internet Privacy

Internet privacy or online privacy is the level of privacy you deserve as a human being on the internet. It covers the online security that an internet user is entitled to regarding his/her personal information and financial data.

Internet privacy is not limited to what you share, store, or display. It also covers your digital trail or behavior on different websites. Without privacy measures in place, every internet user will be subjected to digital harassment and abuse.

The need for internet privacy has become a topmost concern for both big and small internet users. Even with all the measures in place to protect users, desperate third-parties still find loopholes to compromise them. This is why many privacy savvy individuals take extra measures to protect themselves online.

Online Privacy Issues Everyone Faces Every day

If you ever turned to sites like PrivacySavvy and EFF that advocate privacy being online security resource centers, you would know there is danger everywhere when connected to the internet.

Internet users have been facing these issues for some time already, but they’ll probably escalate as the years go by. Let’s uncover them:

Online tracking

Almost every website you visit has cookies and wants you to accept them. These cookies are tracking codes that monitor what you do on the internet for digital profiling. With the data they collect, website owners and digital advertisers create your profile and use it to send targeted ads to you no matter what you’re doing online.

Identity theft

One of the reasons cybercriminals target internet users is to collect their personal information through any means possible. Once they get yours, they can use it to steal your identity and do what they want with your life.

An identity thief can empty your bank accounts in a short time, harass your contacts and even commit a crime in your stance. It’s a terrible experience, and that’s why you must not give them an entrance into your digital life.

Government surveillance

Many governments worldwide are culprits of this issue. According to them, they spy on their citizens to reduce crime by helping law enforcement agencies do their jobs.

Some countries like the UK have made mass surveillance and digital monitoring a legal practice. Others are doing it even illegally and denying it.

Unfortunately, even the telecommunication companies and internet service providers are now required by law to keep your records for one year. All this is to ensure that the government can use them for investigations.

How Internet Users Contribute to These Privacy Issues

Many internet users expose themselves to the internet. Here are the four ways you may be doing that unknowingly.

Opening attachments and downloading files without caution

Cybercriminals and malicious third-parties infiltrate your digital life using malware and viruses. The simplest ways they achieve this is through attachments and downloadable files. Many people fall victim to them because they don’t confirm every attachment or file sources that enter their emails or messages.

Using one credential across multiple platforms

Don’t be shocked. Many people use one username and password on all their digital accounts. If you’re doing that, you’re opening yourself up to hackers. We understand such practices make things easier but it compromises your internet privacy. Instead, invest in a password manager.

Not logging out of Websites

Don’t give hackers enough time to steal your online credentials. Many people have the habit of leaving their accounts open even once they are done with using them.

Their reason may be to easily access the accounts whenever they need to instead of having to write credentials again. Once you make it a routine, a hacker can easily gather everything about you in a few seconds.

Ignoring the term and conditions of online services

It’s only the privacy savvy individuals that can spend time reading the T&C of websites they use. Many people don’t have time for that, and it’s not good. Sometimes you’ll unknowingly click “Agree” for someone to gather your data and use it for what they like.

10 Internet Privacy Measures to Adopt this Year

If you want to secure your privacy online, take the following measures

Get the best anti-virus and activate a firewall

If you’re not using any anti-virus program on your devices, now is a good time to get one. It will protect your devices against Trojans, ransomware, spyware, viruses, and other malware. Also, if you activate a firewall, you can say goodbye to unwanted traffic from cybercriminals.

Secure your browser

If you didn’t know, your internet privacy could be compromised through the web browsers you use. Web browsers have loopholes that cybercriminals can exploit to get to you.

So, if you don’t want it to happen, secure your browser by taking precautions against the loopholes. For instance, you should be mindful of the add-on and extensions you enable, flash player, pop-ups, cookies, etc. Some of these things introduce malware through your browser.

Update your software regularly

If you don’t want to compromise your digital privacy, always update every software you use whenever the updates become available

If you feel that you may not remember to do it, automate the updates by using Software Updater Tools such as Coonectwise Automate, SolarWinds Patch Manager, Syxsense Manage, etc.

Pay attention to privacy settings of services and apps

Many of the platforms you use, such as Facebook, Google, etc., give you options to manage your privacy. You can decide on the types of ads you see on Facebook or even disable ad personalization on Google.

Why not explore these options to protect yourself? At least you can eliminate or limit the tracking of your activities when using the platforms.

Secure your connection with HTTPS or SSL

Make sure that your connection on any website is secured with HTTPS or SSL. Many websites don’t have these security measures that encrypt user’s data against cybercriminals. Whenever you notice that your connection is not secure, as Google will always warn you, avoid that website.

Without SSL, you’ll be exposing your data to malicious third-parties. Imagine what will happen if the site happens to be a shopping site where you’ll expose your credit card details. So, always be on the lookout for unsecured websites.

Manage time to always delete cookies

Don’t leave cookies on your browsers. Many people only remember to clear them when their speed is slow or whenever they feel like it.

If you want to protect your internet privacy, don’t forget to delete them after each browsing session. Instead of failing, automate the process by configuring your web browser to do it.

Password-protect your files before sharing them online

Make sure that you encrypt your files with strong passwords before sharing them online. You can password protect your PDF file, zip files, or even normal Word files. If you do that, you can be sure that the recipient will be the only viewer. Even if hackers intercept it, they can’t open or use it.

Encrypt your connection before file backup

Many people save their files on the cloud to avoid losing them and also download the same when they need it. But you can compromise your privacy if you don’t encrypt your connection before doing that.

In case a cybercriminal intercepts your unencrypted internet connection, he/she can view the data in any of the processes. So if possible, use AES 256-bit encryption to protect your connection before uploading or downloading files from online storage services.

Use reputable services for online communications

There’re many online communication apps available in this era. Unfortunately, many of them are not adequately secured against cybercriminals. So, if you want always to stay safe, invest in an additional security layer and use secure messaging and email apps only.

Use a VPN

The importance of using the internet through a VPN network cannot be overemphasized. A robust VPN service will protect your traffic and also mask your IP address with the IP address of its servers. With a strong VPN network, you can access every content, change your location, stream anonymously, and hide from spies.

But no matter what, don’t rely on the free services because they may expose you unnecessarily to cybercriminals.

Wrapping it up

Using the internet without protecting your privacy is very dangerous. You may not know it but, someone can easily create your profile accurately by picking the crumbs of information you share on different platforms. With all your data in their hand, cybercriminals can rearrange your existence in any way they want. That’s why internet privacy is a trendy topic online.

So, if you don’t want to be a victim of any sort of malicious attack, join the league of internet privacy enthusiasts today. Don’t do anything that exposes you or your information online, and follow the suggestions I listed above on how to protect yourself online.

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