What would you do if your most private information was suddenly available online, for anyone to see? Just imagine: pictures, videos, financial information, emails… all accessible without your knowledge or consent to anyone who cares to look for it. We’ve probably all seen news items come out about various celebrities and political figures who have been less careful than they should be with information that was not meant for public consumption.
Without proper oversight of this sensitive information, it can become available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Keeping information safe and protected online is a growing concern for many people, not just political figures and celebrities. It’s smart to consider what privacy precautions you might have in place for your own personal information: financial, legal, and personal. In this article, we’re going to go over five practical ways you can start protecting your privacy while online to guard yourself against any potential leaks, avoid embarrassment, and keep your information safe and secure.
Create Unique Passwords and Usernames for Each Online Service
Many people use the same usernames and passwords across all their online services. After all, there are so many, and it can be difficult to keep track of a different login and password for all of them. If you’re looking for a way to generate and keep track of multiple secure passwords, KeePass is a good option, plus it’s free: “KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way.
You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).”
Don’t Assume Services are Safeguarding Your Information
Online storage sites such as DropBox do a pretty good job of keeping your information safe and secure. However, if you’re concerned that what you’re uploading is especially sensitive, you should encrypt it – services like BoxCryptor will do that for you for free (tiered pricing levels do apply).
Be Careful Sharing Information Online
We’re asked to fill out forms or log into a new service all the time on the Web. What is all this information used for? Companies make a lot of money analyzing and using the data that we are freely giving them. If you’d like to stay a little bit more private, you can use BugMeNot to avoid filling out unnecessary forms that ask for too much personal information and keep it for other uses.
Never Give Out Private Information
We should all know by now that giving out personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.) is a big no-no online. However, many people don’t realize that the information that they are posting on forums and message boards and social media platforms can be put together piece by piece to create a very complete picture. This practice is called “doxxing”, and is becoming more of a problem, especially since many people use the same username across all of their online services.
In order to avoid this happening, be extremely cautious in how much information you’re giving out, and make sure you don’t use the same username across services (see the first paragraph in this article for a quick review!).
Log Out of Sites Often
Here’s a scenario that happens all too often: John decides to take a break at work, and during that time, he decides to check his bank balance. He gets distracted and leaves the bank balance page up on his computer, leaving secure information out for anyone to see and use. This kind of thing happens all the time: financial information, social media logins, email, etc. can all be compromised extremely easily. The best practice is to make sure you’re on a secure computer (not public or work) when you’re looking at personal information, and to log out of any site you might be using on a public computer so that other people who have access to that computer will not be able to access your information.
Prioritize Online Privacy
Let’s face it: while we’d like to think that everyone we come in contact with has our best interests at heart, this is sadly not always the case — and especially applies when we’re online. Use the tips in this article to protect yourself from unwanted leaks of your personal information on the web.