Even though the internet is a staple in every tech geek’s life, online privacy and security often isn’t given the attention it deserves. In fact, 61% of Americans have expressed concerns over their lack of online security and would like to do more to protect their privacy, a recent report by Pew Research Center reveals. Constant interaction with technology poses huge risks to all of us, including, data breaches of financial information. Fortunately, increasing your online privacy and security isn’t complicated. Whether you’re in Alabama or further afield, here are some simple ways to make your devices and online identity more secure.
Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication goes further than using a simple username and password to log into your account. It implements a second stage of authentication to verify your identity, thereby protecting your account from hackers and cybercriminals. Two methods are used by a businesses when trying to verify a user’s identity: knowledge and possession. Knowledge refers to something known to the user like password and username. Possession refers to something only you have access to like a mobile phone (and you’ll then be required to enter a code sent via text). With two-factor authentication, your account remains secure even if someone else gets hold of your password. It’s essential to use on accounts containing sensitive or valuable information, such as, Gmail, iCloud, Evernote, and Dropbox.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, encrypts your internet traffic by routing it through the VPN company’s server, keeping it safe from prying eyes. A VPN is useful if you’re ever using an unfamiliar or public wifi network which could be compromised in terms of security. For example, there could be someone else using the same network to gain access to personal data sent from your laptop or smartphone (your banking data, credit cards, or passwords). Using a VPN eradicates this risk, as well as hides your IP address from advertisers and trackers. According to Big Data, only 5% of US citizens currently use a VPN, but this number is expected to grow as government regulations continue to infringe on privacy rights.
Clear your cookies
A web or internet cookie is stored on your computer whenever you visit a website for the first time. You may also get a tracking cookie from advertisers (also known as a third-party cookie). These cookies function as tracking devices which follow your visits to other websites and create a picture of your browsing habits. Be aware your saved cookies and web history could reveal personal information, such as, your home address and family information. You can easily avoid this and protect your personal information by regularly deleting browser cookies and search history. While you may lose saved passwords and usernames for some websites, most browsers give you the option to select websites with cookies you want to keep.
Taking the steps to make your online accounts and personal information more secure can seem like a daunting task to many people. However, it’s actually quite a relatively simple and straightforward job. With these simple tips, you’ll boost your online privacy and security with minimal effort.