A practical guide: Steps to protect your online privacy

As one of the most important tools made in a generation, it’s easy to see the internet as our zenith. It’s one of the most popular and productive changes made to human society in many, many years. However, as the web continues to have a more prominent role in our day-to-day lives, it’s also becoming more and more invasive.

For many people, the idea of using the internet is quite worrisome. And it’s easy to see why. With so many links to people having their online privacy tampered with, it’s exceptionally easy to see there’s a fear around using the internet. Indeed, a recent report showed that internet users worry about their online privacy – yet feel ‘powerless’ to do anything about it.

That’s an alarming stat and one that should make most of us sit up and take notice. The internet has changed the world, but it’s also changing many, many things about our world. With that in mind, it is ever-more important to be able to stay on top of our internet usage. For that reason, we have put together this simple guide to help you find out the best ways to feel comfortable and safe when you use the internet.

Instead of shutting yourself off from one of the most powerful tools ever created, this guide will help you use the internet safely. The immense potential of the internet is a unique thing, and it holds a whole host of opportunities to, quite simply, change our lives.

How, though, can you make sure that you do not have to run the risk of having your data breached or stolen? What can you do if you wish to get to a point where you are not going to be put at needless risk when online?

Beware of internet service providers

So, the first problem that you might need to deal with is working with an ISP who is not quite as good they first make out. Did you know, for example, that your ISP has the right – most times -to look at and view every single search that you make when you are using their platform?

For a lot of web users, that can come as a mild shock. Your browser sends a query to the DNS server every time you and do any kind of online query or search. So, for that to happen, it must first go through the ISP. When that happens, they can easily read and check out just about any message or query that you have made.

Now, not all ISPs are going to be doing this. Some are ethical and provide you with the privacy that you very much deserve. Some, though, will have absolutely no problem in recording your history. Some record said history for a few weeks, others record it for years to come. While the majority will not actually record your texts – they will, though, keep records of any texts which come your way.

So, if you are worried that you might be using an ISP that makes it easy for your privacy to be invaded, you should absolutely look to use a new service. You can read into other ISPs in your country and then work out if they are going to give you the kind of protection that you want, need, and deserve.

Check the Wi-Fi You're Using

Always, always, always check the Wi-Fi that you are connecting to. When you are out and about, going to a coffee shop, for example, you might choose to use their Wi-Fi. If you do this, beware of the fact that this does put you at some risk. Wi-Fi is not the most secure way to use the web, especially when you are using open and public Wi-Fi options. If you make that mistake, then you could soon cause yourself a lot of problems and no small amount of harm.

If you intend on using the internet when you are out and about, then you would benefit from connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead. More on that in a moment.

For now, just make sure that you do not use any kind of Wi-Fi that is public if you can help it. This would give any nefarious hacker the chance to get a look at your most important information and credentials. Naturally, you want to do all that you can to avoid the possibility of that.

We recommend that you spend a bit more time watching the kind of connections that you use. WPA3 quality Wi-Fi is a bit more robust, but it is still nowhere near certain that it will keep you 100% secure. So, don’t make any mistakes when you are out and about. If you can help it, avoid using public Wi-Fi altogether. You’ll benefit in the long run.

Use VPN together with antivirus and firewall program

The next thing that you should look to do, we think, is to get a VPN installed as soon as possible. A VPN is essential to making sure you can get the quality of performance and safety that you want, need, and deserve. VPNs are great for solving problem #1, too, as they take you off of your ISP. They will no longer be able to track what you are doing: all they know is that you are using the VPN. Given this is totally legal in most countries, you should have no problems at all in using a VPN. It helps to offer the security and solidity that was previously missing and should go some way to making sure you have an internet service that you can trust.

If anything does go wrong when using a VPN, you are often anonymized so you can be protected from the blowback. Just make sure to pair up your VPN with a recommended anti-virus or firewall system. Most VPNs can give you a good series of recommendations for systems to try out, so we highly recommend that you do so as soon as you can.

VPNs are an excellent tool for making sure you can get the help that you need to really improve your internet security overall. When done right, this can go a long way to making sure that you are able to use the internet with confidence, and know that your connection is going to be secure.

Keep your computer virus-free

One of the first things that we recommend you do when you start using your PC or computer is to get it anti-virus ready. Make sure that your computer is free from any viruses, and you can do this by making sure you are running a fully updated operating system. Make sure you check for updates for your Windows/Mac/Linux/Android etc. Operating system.

The more that your system is going to be outdated, the easier it is for someone to get nefarious back-end access and do a lot of damage. If you take the time to make sure that you are secured, though, you will be much less likely to get caught out in this manner.

For that reason, you can spend a bit more time looking at your computer and using it safely. If you want to keep yourself free from viruses, too, we recommend that you look at popular anti-virus tools such as Kaspersky and Avast. There are many out there to try out, and each of them should give you an easier way to help find out if you are using your PC in a safe manner.

The best way to tell if you are going to have problems with the computer, though, is if you let the software get outdated. Hackers work fast and will always be cracking into software, new and old, to ruin it in some way. If you are not prepared for that, you could be their next victim, so make sure you’re up-to-date.

Switch search engines

This is a small but important step to being safer when you are using the internet. Like most people, you probably stick to the big names when you are doing a search online. However, one thing that you might find is that you can have a lot of problems with things like personally targeted ads. If you are not a fan of the internet reading your history to make suggestions, then you should look to make a change to one of the various other search engines.  One of the most popular search engines for those who want to feel proper safe, then, is DuckDuckGo.

If you use DDG, you will be getting one of the most ethical search engines. They rack none of our data for personal use at all, so you don’t need to worry about your search engine ‘suggesting’ something you were searching for the other day. It’s probably one of the most powerful tools that you can use if you wish to stop the internet from feeling so invasive.

A lot of us have good concerns about how the internet tracks us and looks at everything we do. With the help of this, though, you can make sure that such a problem is not going to be so commonplace in the future. According to mobilesignalboosters, , the introduction of GDPR has shown how more and more of us need to take control of our personal data, and the EU ruling aims to help with this.

Done right, then, you can easily use a search engine that does not make personal data storage and targeted advertisement so blatant. Again, it’s just another step you can take to feel safer and more comfortable online.

Be careful what you share on social media

Social media is probably one of the biggest changes in the world today and has been brought on due to the popularity and availability of the internet. The problem with social media, though, is that most of us are a little too share-happy on it. We spend a lot of time putting a lot of information on the social media channels we use. From the food we eat to where we are, we can use social media for a whole chunk of different bouts of personal sharing.

The problem is that if you keep doing this, you will be left with more than a few worries to overcome. For example, did you know that most hackers can get around ‘Private’ and ‘Friends Only’ filters on social media? In fact, they will be more likely to target a private profile in some circumstances!

Make sure that you keep your profile relatively empty. You do not have to put quite so much information on it as you do at the moment. If you choose to do so, then you can put yourself at needless risk as time goes on. Take the time to look at this a bit closer, and you will soon realize just how dangerous it is to put so much more info on social media.

Keep things like contact details, addresses, and personal information off of that social media account. More importantly, keep private photos and messages for a different kind of platform than your social media account!

Don't fall for scams

Are you worried about the internet is full of scams? You just need to be a bit more vigilant about how you use the internet. We recommend that you do a search for any product or service you might be about to buy. Or, if something pops up on your screen telling you that you have won X or owe Y, search for it online. You will find that if there is even a hint of it being a scam, someone will have already flagged it up. You can, therefore, make much more intelligent choices about what to interact with.

For example, have you received an ‘e-mail from your bank?’ check it over thoroughly. Just about any account-based system in the world will never ask for your password over an e-mail. If they ask you to go and log in from an e-mail they have ‘sent’ then we recommend calling and contacting the people behind the suggestion. Whether it’s a bank or anyone else, they can then verify how real or false the quest is.

Scams are easy to get caught-up into online. A bit of cynicism, though, will go a long way to making sure you avoid being the victim. Keep that in mind, as it should help you avoid a dangerous scenario.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there is a fair amount to think about when it comes to your usage of the internet. This is an immensely powerful tool, but also one that you have to respect and use to correctly. For that reason, it is absolutely essential that you can get used to the idea of being safe when you are on the internet. Using any of the above tips, though, will go a huge way to making sure that you can use the internet without putting your safety or your privacy at risk.

It’s hard to do, but the internet does offer us many ways to stay safer and make sure we are never the victim. If you start to use any of the above ideas, you will be generally much more likely to get the most out of the internet. So, where will you start when it comes to implementing better day-to-day privacy protocols online?

About The Author: Julian Hooks

Julian Hooks is the community manager at MobileSignalBoosters and has an interest in web design for mobile uses and user experience. When not working he enjoys swimming, rugby and gym workouts.

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