Protecting Your Privacy Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

We’ve all been warned – no matter what we do online, somebody is out there watching. It might be to gather information for marketing purposes.The exposure of personal information to the wrong party, however, is a real concern. All of our emails, photos, passwords, addresses, credit card numbers, and social media messages are out there for someone to see. Everything we search for is kept somewhere. Worse, privacy protection is practiced by few, but doing so does not have to be complicated.Who Is Tracking You and Why?The least concerning sources include your Internet Service Provider, who assigns an IP address to every device connected to the Internet. This lets them track everything you do, every site you go to, every file you download, and every email sent/received.Fortunately, it takes a court order from the government to access this information. Corporations and advertisers may also look for your browsing behavior. It helps them figure out how to sell.In addition, the government has the authority to probe companies, such as Facebook and Google, in the name of national security. They could be looking into you but, unless you’ve done something wrong, there’s nothing to worry about. An employer most certainly has access to your online activity at work or use of modular solutions.Most companies want to be sure their workers are being productive instead of browsing the web. Your activity is tracked for many reasons, but the real cause for concern is hackers and cyber criminals. Private and financial details help them make a living, and if they get the right information, they can steal your identity and money.Best Ways to Protect Your Digital PrivacyPassword Protection for DevicesComputers, iPads and even phones should be password protected. It’s almost like locking the key to your home or car. If there is no password, anyone can turn on the device and find whatever information you’ve stored about yourself.Computer EncryptionYes, even your desktop computer should be encrypted. You’ll then need a password to have access to the contents of the hard drive. The security settings on your operating system should enable you to do this.Check on Your Web PresenceWhether you are a business or a good citizen, information published about you online can jeopardize your privacy and reputation. Search your name on Google every once in awhile. There’s also a tool called Talkwalker Alerts, on which you can search for content by entering your name at no cost.Sign Out of Accounts When Not In UseIt might seem convenient to stay signed in, so you can pick up where you left off. This invites anyone who uses your computer to snoop around or third parties to more easily track you. Public computers are especially vulnerable.Never Give Out Personal DetailsThere are many situations someone will ask for your phone number, zip code, or email. It may be a store clerk. If you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut. Just handle it as if they are a stranger.Gmail AuthenticationGmail has become easy to use, but hackers feel the same way. With 2-step authentication, a code is texted to your phone before you check your email. This prevents strangers from signing into your account, obtaining private information, or sending and receiving emails on your behalf.Privacy SettingsYour Facebook presence can make you especially vulnerable. Change your settings to “Friends Only” so the general public can’t see personal details. Otherwise, unwanted parties can see where you are, what you plan to do, and other information that can be used to their advantage. You can also follow these tips for navigating the world of social networking safely.Make Yourself Invisible to TrackersThis is as simple as clearing your browser history and cookies, which can be used to track you. There are also traffic analysis blockers. These prevent others from finding information about you extrapolated from your browsing habits.ConclusionThese are just a few uncomplicated ways to protect your privacy. While nothing is foolproof, such habits can help keep your personal information away from hackers and other cyber criminals. In this day and age, it’s important not to be complacent and take measures to protect your identity and security. 


About the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelancer tech writer and commentator. He enjoys writing about new technologies and trends, and how they can help us. Rick occasionally writes for several tech companies and industry publications.Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this and other guest author articles are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

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