How to protect yourself from surveillance online
Online privacy is one of the biggest concerns that netizens have. Even if you think that your data is of very little value, the reality is different. Right from your latest Facebook post to location tracking and browsing logs, everything is glued together. Companies build extensive consumer profiles and will respond by sending dozens of online ads. There are numerous ways to use your data. Thus, netizens attempt to obviate the all-seeing eyes of trackers.
Internet surveillance: The elephant in the room
While browsing, you generate tons of data. From your browsing habits to location, everything is up for grabs, and digital entities take the opportunity to collect as much as possible.
For instance, advertising companies are constantly tracking your browser activities and online behavior to show ads that cater to your specific needs. On the other hand, service providers track your online activities to offer you tailor-made services.
Governments, cutting across continents, are always spying on their citizens to identify criminals, stop people with nefarious intentions from carrying out illegal activities, prevent terrorist activities, etc. However, there’s no reason why the same data can’t be used to silence citizens or block access. Internet censorship is a major issue, and many people across the globe do not get the opportunity to enjoy the same access to digital services.
Is there a way out?
Being anonymous online might seem impossible as we leave a trail of digital footprints. Apps you use on your smartphone or a website you visit immediately extract data about you, such as your preferences, location, etc. Ignoring tempting ads on YouTube or Facebook is a herculean task, but every time you click on an ad, you end up sharing your interest with the digital entity. Luckily, the future is not as bleak as you might presume. There are ways to become more anonymous.
Escape digital surveillance by changing your online behavior
You can reduce or completely escape digital surveillance by changing your online behavior. Even though we’re losing sleep over the privacy debate, we still end up sharing a lot of personal information while accessing various online services.
While buying products or services on the internet, we often provide personal details in exchange for an attractive discount. It might not sound that risky, but you never know how that information is going to be used and whether it would be shared with third parties or not. Thus, when you get promotional messages from unknown services, your email address might have been shared with other providers.
In the future, you must exercise caution while performing the following online actions:
- Tagging locations while posting pictures on social media (especially in real-time)
- Emailing sensitive information such as PIN codes or passwords
- Opening emails from unverified sources
- Clicking on banner ads and attractive pop-ups
- Not using strong passwords
- Trading your personal information for discounts
- Using the same password for all online services
- Accepting cookies
- Not reading the terms and conditions before using an online service or website
Adding extra layers of protection
Once you’ve gotten rid of your poor online habits, it’s essential to add extra protection layers to improve privacy and ensure data security. Here’s a list of activities to boost online privacy:
- Use password managers. Sophisticated password managers let you create strong passwords and store them in an encrypted form. Thus, you prevent the usage of same the passwords by relying on a secure vault containing each combination you use.
- Update antivirus software. Antivirus software makers release critical updates to patch security loopholes and update their virus database.
- Browser settings. You must go to the browser settings and configure it to delete cookies every time you log out of it.
- Switch to more private search engines. If you’re serious about your online privacy, you should switch to securer search engines like DuckDuckGo. Yes, there’re search engines that are generally more beneficial to keeping your browsing private.
- Turn off the location services on your smartphone. Prevent people from knowing your exact location by turning off the location services on your smartphone.
- Install a VPN. Avoiding surveillance is easier when you install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It ensures that all your web traffic is encrypted, limiting the insights digital entities can extract about you. Additionally, it lets you hide your IP address to access services or information unavailable in your country. A VPN offers a plethora of advanced privacy features like blocking IP tracking and third-party cookies from websites.
Privacy on the internet is possible only when you learn about the latest threats and prepare beforehand to ward off these threats. Thus, stay informed of the latest developments and never forget to treat your privacy and security as priorities.
Story by Kate Williamson