Today, the internet has become a crucial tool for every person. We use the internet to shop, to search for information, to send and receive messages and to share pictures and information on social media. The availability of free Wi-Fi has made it possible for us to remain online even when we are away from home.
However, most of us are not careful enough with our personal information and our activities online.
Do you know when you post your pictures on Facebook or open a particular website, you leave some digital footprints that can be traced or tracked? This leaves your private information exposed.
Also, use of free public Wi-Fi exposes you to cyber-criminals and hackers who can easily access your personal information such as bank account information, credit card information, and passwords. Letting your personal information fall into the wrong hands can cause significant problems for you in the future.
Who could be tracking you?
So who is that person who can read your emails or track your online activities? Every time you browse the internet to update your Facebook status or to send an email, your online activities can be observed by the following persons:
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) – every time we use the internet, we use a specific ISP who assigns a IP address to our devices. And since your internet service provider knows your IP address, they can easily track your online activities.
- The government – Your government might be checking on your activities. They can demand your personal details from your ISP, Google or Facebook.
- Corporations and Advertisers – Your browsing habit and your personal information is critical to corporations and advertisers.
- Cyber-criminals and hackers – Do you know some people make a living by stealing people’s financial information online? They have several methods and tools to collect your personal information each time you browse the internet, especially when using a free public WI-FI.
How to Protect Your Privacy Online
Though you might not be able to have complete control over people or institutions spying or monitoring you online, there are several ways to reduce the risk. Below are several methods on how to protect your privacy online.
1. Assessing your online activities
By assessing your online activities, you can be able to protect your identity and privacy online. Check the information you share or store online. Some websites are not safe, and your personal information can fall into the wrong hands.
2. Have the latest anti-virus on your devices
To protect your devices from spies, viruses, and worms, you should have the latest anti-virus. There are several free and paid versions of anti-virus programs. However, it is essential to get one from a trusted company since they are many fake programs online.
3. Use a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Even though an anti-virus program can protect your computer, the software does not secure the browsing part and the internet communications. VPN can protect your privacy and secure your internet communications.
By creating a Tunnel, any information transmitted between the server and your computer is encrypted. This means your sensitive information like bank account information, credit card information, or passwords is protected from hackers and cyber-criminals.
VPN also helps to hide your IP address. This means any website you browse can only see the IP address of the VPN server, and not your computer IP address. It also ensures you remain anonymous every time browse the internet. Hence, the government or any institution cannot track your browsing activities.
If you usually use Free Public Wi-Fi, a VPN is a vital program to use to protect your privacy. Another benefit of VPN is that you can browse any blocked or restricted website. This is very beneficial to travelers. If you are visiting a country that restricts sites such as Facebook, Gmail or Netflix, you can quickly browse them using VPN.
4. Check what you share on social media
Social media sites such Facebook and Twitter have unclear privacy policies. This means it is possible for people to hack or access your social media accounts. It is therefore wise to be careful on the information you share on those sites.
5. Use strong and unique passwords
Today, most people use the same passwords for all their accounts. So if an individual manages to get open one of your online account, he can access all the other accounts. To get rid of this dilemma, use a strong and a unique password.
The above steps can help to protect your privacy online. It is also essential to be careful about what you share or the person you share your information with online. You should be cautious as well on apps as some can access your personal information.