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Privacy Advocate Provides 10 Ways To Protect Your Privacy Online
By: Guard Street
According to a study commissioned by Norton, 50% of online adults have been victims of cybercrime and negative online situations in the past year and 41% have fallen victim to attacks such as malware, viruses, hacking, scams, fraud and theft. The financial loss from cybercrime is up 50% over the prior year and according to Javelin Strategy and Research, so are the number of victims of identity fraud.
The consequences of cybercrime are getting worse. Consumers need to take control of their privacy with protective measures during the most common activities they could be exposed to danger. These include shopping, banking, their web activity, social networking, storing their personal data and even while they’re not online when traveling.
According to Mazza, “We can’t control criminals or how big and small retailers protect data they may have about us, but we can take control of our privacy through protective measures. While no protection on the planet is 100% when dealing with criminals, consumers can drastically reduce the chances of being hacked, tracked or have their data stolen. Looked at another way, not being protected drastically increases your odds of being a victim.”
1. Use a secure email account. “Free”
2. Encrypt your emails and files. Your day to day messages and data should be fully encrypted / scrambled with AES 256-bit encryption (military grade security) so it cannot be read. There are many tools available that make it easy to encrypt or decrypt your communications offered by Apple and Microsoft Windows. Several Swiss email and file storage providers also offer such a solution, plus they bring the strong privacy requirements to the table.
3. Be careful with cloud storage. You should work under the assumption that anything stored on such systems is potentially accessible by others. If you do entrust your data to cloud storage, make sure it’s encrypted. Many options available based in the US, UK and France are tolerant to the possibility of snooping. This is another reason to consider a Swiss option for cloud storage.
4. Browse securely and anonymously. Taking browser security and privacy seriously is definitely worth while considering that is what internet users do most. Using a secure virtual private network (VPN) shields advertisers and cybercriminals from tracking your online activity from your mobile device, desktop or laptop. It also protects you from hackers. Similar to an email account, be wary of free Wi-Fi or VPN, it may cost you with a loss of privacy. You should also configure your browser to repel many trackers. Additionally, use a disposable email address should you need to enter an email address to enter websites or gain access to information.
5. Manage your passwords. Don’t use the same password every time. Imagine the consequences if that got into the wrong hands. Instead of a password, create a passphrase. This is a meaningless sentence that you will remember. You can do transformations on the passphrase (first and fourth letters of every word possibly) so you can create a stronger password every time. To simplify this even more, use a password management app.
6. Watch your transactions. When paying online make sure you have a secure connection. There are two ways you can determine if there is a secure connection. First, look for "https" and not just “http” at the start of a merchant’s web address. The “S” means the transaction is “secure”. Another way to determine if the connection is secure is to see a bright green box and padlock graphic in the address bar of most browsers. Check either one of these before entering personal or payment information.
7. Stop and think before sharing information. Question who is asking for the information. Why do they need it and how is it being used? Don’t provide the information if you are unsure about the legitimacy of the request. Be careful of links taking you to sites that ask for your personal information. If an organization asks for your social security number to validate your identity, request another question.
8. Use a private search engine. When you search with any of the large search engines, your search history is being tracked so they can build a profile about you and serve you personalized results based on your search history. To avoid being tracked, use a privacy oriented search engine. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t track your inquiries.
9. Make your social networks private. Social networking can be a danger to your privacy if you’re not careful. Adjust your social media profiles to only allow your real friends to see your information. You should manage your privacy settings on your own, however there are several free tools available including AVG Privacy Fix that help you manage what others see. They also let you know which websites may share your email address. If you are uploading photos on social networking sites, be sure to remove location information.
About Guard Street™
Guard Street™ is based just outside of Chicago and offers consumers’ packages of privacy protection tools that when activated create a personal data locking system. For additional privacy news, tips for securing your personal data and information about the program, go to www.guardstreet.com or call 1-800-517-4550.