Nothing is hidden in the digital world. Someone is aware of the websites you visited today. Including the movies you watched on Netflix, the boots you purchased on Amazon. And even the groceries you purchased from Whole Foods.
You don’t have to have anything to hide if you want internet privacy. You may simply be tired of tracking ads and dislike the idea of Google knowing your every thought. However, in this day and age, we all have something to hide. Such as our address, online banking information, and medical records.
Surfing the web wisely and with some strategic security measures helps keep your private internet searches private. Also prevents anyone from snooping into your interests, from the government to the bored teenage hacker next door. Continue reading for ten tips on how to keep yourself and your information safe and anonymous online.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network server, is the best and safest way to surf the web anonymously. A VPN differs from a web-based proxy server in that you download the proxy and it only runs on your device. You must still select a reputable VPN service provider.
A VPN works in several ways to keep you anonymous online. The first benefit is that it conceals your IP address. When you browse the web, your computer’s IP address sends a data request to the website you’re visiting. Normally, your IP address is completely visible to everyone, and it locates you in the same way that your street address does.
You can select which server to use, so anyone watching your internet activity will believe you’re in a different city or country and won’t be able to identify you.
2. Use the Settings on Your Browser
If you’re using a shared or public computer, enable Private Browsing mode in your browser settings.
You should also go to your browser’s settings to opt out of tracking. This instructs websites not to access your location information, but you must hope that they comply. Installing an anti-tracker browser plugin disables tracking cookies, keeping your location hidden. While you’re there, make sure you don’t have any Java or Adobe Flash plugins enabled that could leak your information to snoopers.
3. Use an Encrypted Messaging App
Anyone who communicates over the internet should be concerned about internet surveillance. You don’t have to demand that your conversations to be private. In fact, all of us deserve more than a semblance of privacy online, even if we’re just sharing recipes.
This, unfortunately, is not the case. Large tech companies have repeatedly made headlines for privacy violations that expose us to hackers, government officials, and even our bosses. Consider using an encrypted messaging app to avoid the risk of your communications being made available to third parties. The level of encryption varies from one to the next, with some offering basic privacy and others offering advanced features such as self-destructing messages. Consider how much privacy you want and need, and look for a messaging app that takes care to keep your conversations private.
4. Update Your Cybersecurity Game
Are you still relying on the antivirus software that came with your computer? It might be a good idea to tighten up your security measures right now. After all, hackers aren’t resting on their laurels. New malware and ransomware threats are being introduced now. The good news is that top antivirus vendors are constantly releasing new software and technologies to combat these new types of cyber attacks. Though you may be satisfied with the software you have or believe you are too savvy to fall victim to malware, it is a good idea to regularly check in with your computer’s antivirus software and, if necessary, consider replacing it with a program that is more appropriate for the times.
5. Consider an Identity Theft Program
A recent Federal Trade Commission report revealed some startling statistics about the prevalence of identity theft in the United States. More than 650,000 reports of identity theft were filed in 2019, including credit card fraud, phone or utility fraud, banking fraud, and tax-related fraud. As hackers develop more sophisticated methods of extracting information from people, this number is unlikely to decrease in the coming years, especially given the growing popularity of online banking, shopping, and medical services.
Identity theft protection programs provide around-the-clock security that could benefit anyone who shares information online. ID theft can track your credit card transactions. Also detect changes in your credit score. Then track the deep web to alert you if any of your information is being sold or used for illegal purposes. ID theft is something to think about as more and more of our personal lives are conducted online.
6. Invest in a Password Manager
Your dog’s name, mother’s birthday, or favorite song will no longer suffice (if they ever really did). Creating a secure password these days can feel like an advanced degree in alphanumeric. And when you consider how many passwords we need for our various social media accounts, emails, or banks. They should not be reused.
You couldn’t be judged too harshly if you used the same password on multiple accounts. However, it is a bad idea. That is why password managers are so important in this day and age, when we use passwords more than phone numbers. They can store, retrieve, and even generate advanced and completely secure passwords for you, saving you the trouble of remembering, reusing, or relying on sticky notes on your computer desk.
7. Use TOR
Using a TOR browser is one of the safest ways to browse the internet anonymously. This route your internet traffic through a deeply nested series of TOR servers, so that anyone attempting to link your internet activity to your personal information will only see the IP address of the final node. TOR browsing is extremely secure, which is why it is frequently associated with the dark web, which houses illegal websites. The disadvantage of using the TOR is that it will most likely significantly slow down your browsing speed.
Stay Anonymous and Stay Safe
Every Internet connection has an IP address, which is linked to information such as your Internet service provider and physical location. This means that the average user is frighteningly simple to monitor and track online. Furthermore, the online platforms we use more frequently than ever before—from online banks to social media and messaging apps—that require sensitive information make us even more vulnerable to security breaches if we are not cautious.
That’s why using VPNs, anti-ID theft software, and, in some cases, simply increased vigilance can mean the difference between a smooth online experience and a security nightmare.