New data laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation are an important step, but not enough. This is partly due to the increase in cyberattacks as well. Even worse, the evidence actually suggests that home appliances are now the top target.
For our annual Data Privacy Day, we’re then sharing nine tips on how to stay safe online and secure your anonymity when your data is at risk.
As Vaibhav Antil, CEO of Privado, one of the best free VPN providers around, said: “Data Privacy Day gives us all a chance to take a second and think about what we share about ourselves, when and where we share it, and who we share it with.
1. Take the time to read the privacy policies
Despite the many instances of how companies handle users’ data, the majority of people still don’t take the time to carefully check privacy policies before agreeing to terms.
According to a 2019 Pew Research study, only 9% of Americans actually do this. A similar scenario emerged from a survey also conducted by cybersecurity auditing firm Deloitte. Here, more than 90% of the respondents admitted that they agreed to the legal terms and conditions without reading them.
It’s true, these policies are often very long and hard to understand. This makes reading the terms and conditions of every service and application we access online a daunting task.
However, understanding how organizations use your information is the first step towards a more private life online.
Being aware of how you handle your data is vital to being fully able to stay on top of your digital life. It will also allow you to better select the services you would like to subscribe to.
The growing need for users to understand privacy terms is actually prompting some big tech companies to simplify their terms for better transparency.
Apple added privacy labels on its App Store to help users make informed decisions in 2020, for example. Google Play followed suit a year later.
2. Protect your browsing activities with a VPN
Short for Virtual Private Network, VPN is software that spoofs your IP address location. At the same time, it encrypts all the data that leaves your devices inside its VPN tunnel.
As for how it works, a VPN is the tool you want to secure your online anonymity against cybercriminals and the prying eyes of the government. Using this tool is especially important when you are connected to an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, as it is more vulnerable to attacks. A VPN for torrenting is also vital for downloading files securely from the Internet.
Besides privacy, these security services can also boost your overall online performance in several ways. Check out our explanation of all the main VPN benefits to learn more. Our favorite provider on the market right now is ExpressVPN.
3. Consider other cybersecurity programs
As online risks become increasingly multifaceted, so must your data protection software response.
We recommend combining VPN use with other security software such as the best antivirus solutions and password managers. Also, ad blockers are a must if you’re looking to stay private online.
The good news is that you don’t even need to have many different subscriptions nowadays. That’s because a growing number of service providers are now offering full security suites instead.
For example, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both come with password managers and ad blocking features built into their VPN software. Whereas, Surfshark One is an all-in-one security package that includes four cybersecurity tools with just one subscription. You can also check out our guide to the best VPNs with antivirus right now for more recommendations.
4. Beware of free apps
Whether it’s a VPN, antivirus, online game, or other application, free services all have a common trait: hunger for your data.
This is simply because, since they do not charge you any money for their services, selling your information to third parties is what constitutes their revenue.
On this point, Andrew Newman, founder of cybersecurity firm ReasonLabs, said: “When people choose not to share the privacy of their information, you see companies like Facebook and Google lose billions of dollars as a result. This shows you how collecting that information is so valuable to these advertising companies.” “.
In the worst case, they may infect your devices with malware. According to Newman, downloading free software is actually one of the main reasons home users are exposed to viruses and other dangers in the first place.
5. Secure your online accounts
Online accounts are arguably the main door inside users’ most sensitive information. This is why it is essential to make these logins as difficult as possible for them to be hacked.
Securing your online accounts comes down to a series of steps. First, you must use Strong passwords It contains a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters. It is also imperative that you never use the same password for different accounts. Again, using a password manager can help you with all of this.
You should also do More secure login process empowerment Multi-factor authentication (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Since it requires you to verify your identity two or more times, it may discourage bad actors from accessing your profile. An already common practice to secure your email account, for example, most social media platforms now offer this extra layer of security as well.
You should also consider setting up login alerts to receive a notification each time your account is accessed. This will make it easier to respond quickly in the event of a breach.
6. Always keep all your devices updated
Update after update, service providers can fix bugs and vulnerabilities in their operating systems.
For this, you should always ensure that you are running the latest version of your operating system at all times to reduce entry points for attack and protect your data from cyber criminals.
Likewise privacy policies, it’s a good practice to carefully review settings and permissions for all apps running on your devices. You’d be surprised how much information they have access to about you by default.
Likewise, we recommend doing the same for all of your online profiles.
As a general rule, you should keep these things around when absolutely necessary for the service to function properly, especially on social media apps.
8. Be careful about what you click on
Phishing links, a tactic that involves spreading malware via malicious links and/or dangerous attachments, is one of the most common and successful ways to steal users’ sensitive information. Cyber criminals may aim to obtain your login credentials, then communicate with your contacts to launch scams.
These malicious links are often shared via direct messages and email, but also increasingly loom over social media posts and comments. Once the victim clicks on it, their account and/or device gets infected. their data at risk.
Beware of links or attachments that look too good to be true, encouraging you to click on or share personal details. You should always keep in mind and shorten enticing links, especially when they are sent from suspicious accounts. Check the source before clicking on it and also consider reporting any message that looks suspicious.
9. Back up your data regularly
Finally, backing up your data regularly is your best bet for retrieving your information in the event that it is lost because your device crashes, or worse, after a cyberattack.
Tactics like ransomware or scanning malware pose a huge risk to your files. In the first place, you often can’t take back control of your data even after payment is approved. Whereas, the latter, is a type of malware that erases all the material on your device with a single click.
Therefore, regular backup on an external hard drive or encrypted cloud storage is the best defense against such malware.