If you are looking for ways to reduce your digital footprint right now, you are not alone. The majority of Americans — almost nine in ten — have at some point done something to protect their privacy online. And it has become something of a necessity. Having your data tracked and saved is just a regular part of being online. But while some would use the data in a benevolent, although annoying, way, others will try to use it for more nefarious reasons. So here are some of the things you can do to make it harder for them.
Be Careful with What You Share
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you are the biggest threat to your privacy. Oversharing on social media is a great example, especially if you don’t take the time to go through your privacy settings. If you’re not careful, people you don’t know might end up learning a lot about who you are, where you work, and where you like to go.
No matter how convenient it might be to give social media a full insight into your life, it will severely reduce your privacy online. Finding a middle ground between closing all of your profiles and letting social media know everything about you can be difficult and time-consuming. But if you want to protect your privacy, it is something you need to do.
When surfing the Internet, chances are you are using a browser that has a private browsing option. When you use private browsing, the cookies, browsing history, and temporary Internet files are deleted after each session. That way, you can effectively minimize how much someone can track your online activities.
If you want to browse even more privately, you can start hiding your IP address. There are several ways you can do this. Proxies, the Tor network, and virtual private networks are some of the things you can use to hide your IP address when browsing. Some of these options are better than others, though, so you might need to research which one you should use. For VPNs, for example, you can go to BeProductive and see which ones will work best for your situation.
Choose Cash over Credit Cards
This one isn’t possible to do online, but it’s good advice nonetheless. Did you know that your credit card company is most likely selling your purchase data to advertisers? They are doing it, whether you like it or not. And don’t think that using PayPal helps. It doesn’t, because PayPal likes to share data as well.
When buying in-store, however, you get a degree of control over your data. If you pay with cash, you will remove payment processors from the equation, and you will not provide any data that might affect your privacy.
The way your browser communicates with websites can affect your privacy. The regular way of doing it is using HTTP, but it leaves you vulnerable to anyone who would like to see what is in the data packages exchanged between your browser and a server.
The better way to browse the Internet is to always force an HTTPS connection. There are still some websites that don’t support the more secure option, but that is likely to change rapidly. Google has been exhibiting a strong bias towards HTTPS, and you can install browser extensions that make the websites use HTTPS even if it is not their default setting.
Take Care of Your Passwords
Privacy and security go hand in hand in the digital world. So, while you are taking steps to hide from the prying eyes of advertisers, it would be a good idea to check your security basics.
Passwords are a necessary nuisance. They become even more annoying if you want to improve your privacy and security. Pick passwords longer than 12 characters and never use the same password twice. If it is too hard for you to remember all those passwords, try using a strong and secure password manager.
Stay Well Informed
As new ways to track you and infringe on your privacy arise, you want to be able to defend yourself from them as soon as possible. The most important advice for the protection of your privacy is to keep your ear to the ground and understand the threats that are out there. You don’t have to read every single article that comes up about possible threats. But you cannot afford to skip the most important ones. You have to take initiative if you want to protect your privacy, and you cannot do that unless you are well informed.