Protecting your identity while online has been something that was always seen as important. However, as the internet becomes more and more integral to our lives, as we work online, and do our socializing online, we become more exposed to the risks online. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to protect your private information, the vast majority of which are relatively basic.
The best thing about these steps is that the vast majority of them can be implemented without any cost to you, and they won’t drastically alter the things you do, in any real way. From visiting secure search engines to removing apps of no use to you, improving your privacy while online is not as difficult as you think.
Anyway, let’s take a look at 7 of the best ways to protect your identity while surfing the internet:
1. Keep Your Phone Number and Email Address Private
If you don’t protect your phone number and/or email address you could end up with thousands of messages in your email account and regular marketing calls to your phone. Even if it’s not possible for you to avoid sharing this specific data with an online store or internet service, you should never share such information with random individuals on social media networks. Your best option is to create a dummy email address, one that is disposable, and if possible have a separate number, one solely for such purposes.
To do this, all you’ll need to do is purchase a new SIM card and create a new email account, which you can then use for shopping online and other things that you choose to do online with strangers.
2. Turn off GPS
Another thing you want to do is disable your computer or phone’s GPS or global positioning services, as this will ensure your online privacy is protected. In most cases, when on a social media service, your device will broadcast its geographic location by default, which can then be tracked using GSP technology.
By taking the time to disable location services for apps that do not need your actual location, including built-in GPS on your phone, you will block individuals and companies from keeping tabs on your location. This is something that a great many people are totally oblivious to.
3. Be Cautious With Unfamiliar Links
One way you can, for sure protect your identity while online is to be cautious and untrusting of all links. That means, taking extra time to asses any links before you click on them. This will also protect your device from falling prey to malicious threats, such as spyware, viruses etc.
One thing to bear in mind is that, by clicking on a link, you’re not immediately making yourself vulnerable to identity theft, but the chances of you becoming a victim of it is heightened. This is because malicious content tends to work in several different ways. Some sites may look to install malware directly to your computer, while others will try to acquire confidential financial information from you by resembling an official website – possibly a bank site.
4. Use Passcodes and Passwords for Your Phone and Computer
Most people keep a lot of information on their phones and computers that they would very much prefer to remain private, so why not protect these devices with passwords. Any password you go with doesn’t necessarily need to be complex and unique, but by just having them, you are sure to keep random people from accessing these devices. If you’re on a mobile device then you may want to go with an actual password or six-digit Pin, rather than your typical screen lock pattern or four-digit number. If you have a device that supports biometric authentication, such as face unlock of fingerprint reading, then you may want to opt for that, but keep in mind that these technologies are not without their limitations.
In short, use biometric authentication or passwords to lock your tablets, computers and mobile devices.
5. Be Care Of What You Share On Social Media
Most of the social media platforms out there have some form of protection built into them. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all come to mind when thinking about privacy protection, but, these features need to be enabled. However, you can avoid having to actually locate and enable these features, by simply limiting what you share to others while on these services.
Even if your account is private or locked, there are several things for you to be cognizant of. Avoid any questions presented on your feed that ask for any confidential information about you, such as your pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name, what secondary school you went to, or your favorite color.
When uploading files in batch, make sure none of these files contain confidential information about you. Double-check any pictures you upload to ensure they don’t feature something you don’t want others to see.
6. Manage Your Online Footprint
There are several apps that you can download to help you manage your online identity. Presence is an online management tool that will present you with a visual tool to help you manage your online privacy on various social media platforms. With Presence Global you now have the ability to protect, detect and control your identity online. There are many tools like this that I suggest you go away and do some research on, as you may find that they can be rather useful.
7. Delete Unwanted Apps
Whether it’s your desktop unit or your mobile phone, it’s always best practice to remove any apps that you no longer use. Removing unwanted apps not only has its security implications but also helps to boost system performance. This is especially true when it comes to mobile devices, which can very easily become filled up with unwanted add-ons and other small apps.
The most important reason why you want to remove old apps, specifically, is that they will protect your device from old security flaws. Some programs can become obsolete over time, which means the developers no longer update the program. This means, if a cybercriminal identifies a security loophole in this program, the developers will no longer take the time to plug the hole up. This leads to the end user’s system becoming vulnerable to this specific attack. Removing said tool, ensures you are protected.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.