Browsing Privacy is no longer up for debate, and users must make a conscious effort to safeguard it. From African princes to elaborate fraud schemes to Facebook hackers, we are increasingly becoming at risk with every click on our device. Advertisers sometimes buy or collect our personal information to send us personalized ads without us knowing about it.
Browsing security and privacy are now increasingly important in today’s internet usage and we as users must be up to date security wise so as to avoid the many pitfalls online.
Some of the Common Threats We Face
Javelin Strategy has reported that the number of people affected by identity theft is numbered in millions in the past year alone. Identity theft is on the rise and thieves are looking for ingenious ways to steal information.
Common methods identity thieves use include email messages, pop-ups, attachments, and malicious websites.
Governments around the world now have legal rights to monitor people’s browsing records and use them in investigations. The UK is a prime example with its Investigatory Powers Act that allows the government access to private browsing records of individuals (tantamount to spying really).
Internet service providers or communication providers also have records that can be accessed by the government or high-class hackers (Facebook being a major example). This highly increases the risk of being spied on or personal information being stolen.
Website usage is now so monitored that there are ads that appear regardless of the sites you visit. Ads so tailored to you that it may feel like they are reading your mind. Retargeting is now a thing. This is not clairvoyant, they are making highly educated guesses. Based on your browsing history, ad sites offer suggestions on what they believe the user might be interested in. The online ad market is designed to intrude into our cyberspace.
Cookie profiling is a way of learning about people’s browsing habits which in turn is used to suggest ads. Many people might not really mind the ads, some might even love them but it is still an invasion of privacy on levels we might not really be conscious of.
Learning about the threats makes us conscious of them. We should also be conscious of how we fall into these threats in the first place. Here are a few ways we do that.
How We May Open The Door For Browsing Privacy Invaders
Terms & Conditions
This is a long term joke around the world because we all lie. Whenever we accept the terms and conditions, we are acknowledging that we have read all the terms and conditions and we find them acceptable, which we never do.
Some of these terms and conditions that we accept grant companies or service providers access to our personal details and even the legal right to sell them to marketers and users of information.
The devil really is in the details. So, next time, take a little bit of time and read through, you just might avoid having your privacy invaded.
Opening Attachments, Pop-Ups and Downloading Malicious Files
Have we ever opened attachments, clicked on Pop-ups or downloaded from sites that aren’t secure? If the answer is yes, we are opening ourselves up to serious privacy and security issues that might result in the theft of information or other intrusions of our private information.
Always download apps, songs, documents from only trusted or/and verified sources. This will help minimize the risk of intrusion.
Staying Logged in on Many Websites
We can never remember passwords whenever we need them, that is why it is convenient to just stay logged in. It is super useful especially now with a single user having accounts on so many platforms, it would take a wattpad novel to record them all.
But it has major drawbacks. Whenever we stay logged in, we are at the mercy of hackers who can easily get all of our personal information like (financial, educational) information.
Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be something as sophisticated as hacking, other people can just use our phones and intrude on our browsing privacy because they can easily gain access to all our platform profiles due to the fact that we are always logged in.
Reduce the platforms you are logged in on. This will definitely help you minimize the chances of your browsing privacy being invaded. Better still, use a password manager.
Same Passwords/Profile Name Across Multiple Platforms
All it takes is for one platform to be breached and then the whole thing falls apart. Using the same access codes is highly inefficient in protecting our privacy. It only helps cybercriminals or intruders to easily access our online accounts.
Once again a password manager will help avoid this. Lastpass and Myki are two password managers to try.
Steps to Take to Secure Browsing Privacy
Adhering strictly to these points will go a long way in keeping you secure online.
1. Do not open spam emails unless they have verified sources. Many of these emails contain Trojan horses that invade browsing privacy and sometimes render our defenses useless.
2. Whenever we get emails about our accounts malfunctioning, possible rebates or refunds, we should contact our service providers directly instead of clicking on the links sent in the mail.
3. Do not give out personal information online unless you totally trust and know the collecting party.
4. Another wall we can build around our browsing privacy is staying updated with browsing, security and operations software of our devices. Software designers are daily striving to plug the holes intruders use to gain access to our private information. It would be wise to let our systems/devices automatically update these safety features to enable us to stay protected from new threats.
More steps to take …
5. Ensuring our privacy settings in platforms we use online is also a vital way of protecting our browsing privacy. Most platforms have a default setting that enables sharing of information with the general public which may be dangerous to your internet security. It is up to you to make the changes that will ensure your information is mostly only shared with people you know.
6. Especially on social media platforms, linking accounts is increasingly becoming super helpful in ensuring we can easily share information/posts across these platforms. While there is no denying the usefulness, there is no denying the risk either. Unlink accounts to reduce the risk of privacy intrusion.
8. Passwords have longtime been a hassle to us as internet users. We often find it difficult to create strong passwords let alone remember them after five minutes. We must create better passwords if we want to ensure privacy in browsing. No more using “password” as our passwords and thinking it’s impenetrable. Our passwords must contain a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols and numbers to ensure stronger protection against intrusions.
9. This might be something we will not agree to stop but it is vital we do. Stop using public WiFi. In essence, (stop using free WiFi). Use your own secured network (secured with a proper password as earlier explained). This will help minimize intrusions into our browsing privacy and generally ward off unwanted network traffic.
How Browsers Affect Our Browsing Privacy
If you are online often, you should be very particular about what browsers you use and the features they have. Google Chrome, for example, comes with an incognito feature which equates to more privacy and less tracking. You will experience less retargeting if you constantly use incognito mode.
There are however other browsers that are famous for privacy that you may explore. Brave is one such in the growing list and new versions of opera now come with a free VPN feature. This feature means your browsing is protected as requests for webpages or online info will not be traced straight to the sending IP.
You should be as careful as possible. In addition to all the above safety precautions, you must make a good study of what browsers offer the most privacy and consider making a switch to it.
It is vital you understand these tips and use them on our devices. Internet privacy is a basic right. Browsing isn’t safe, it is up to us to ensure safety by being security and privacy-conscious.
If you have other successful tips you have been using or experiences about browser privacy, please share using the comments section.