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Too often, people surf the internet with little to no thought of their privacy. They simply take it for granted that their privacy is automatically being protected by some all-knowing, benevolent being.
While that may true in many cases, it is most certainly not a guarantee. After all, there are all kinds of opportunistic scammers, hackers, and other criminals out there just waiting to steal your identity or get their hands on your other information. It happens to people every day. But it doesn’t have to happen to you.
Thankfully, there are a number of easy-to-use options out there for you should you decide you want to up your online privacy game. Using one or more of the six following tools will help to ensure you maintain maximum privacy anytime you are online:
The best offense against security breaches starts with a good defense. To start, the installation of good security software on your computers and other devices is essential. New devices often come with some sort of security software already integrated to help block viruses, malware, and other attempted network infiltrations. After a certain trial period, you will likely need to pay to keep the software active.
Moving forward, make sure you are entirely satisfied with the security software you have in place. Research other options that have the customer satisfaction ratings and level of protection that appeal to you. Then, once you have the right security software installed, always be sure to stay current with any required and recommended updates.
Data/File Encryption Software
Whether you simply have sensitive files stored on your home computer or exchange some of your data in the process of creating an account, you want that data to move and stay where you put it. Encryption software helps to ensure that by hiding your data behind virtual files and complex algorithms.
This kind of software uses cryptography to make digital information secure. You can use it to add that extra layer of protection you want when sending confidential emails as well as disguising native files. While this kind of software is most often used for business purposes, there’s no reason why you can’t install it for your own personal use if you feel the need.
You can’t be expected to monitor all your online accounts all the time. Fortunately, there are fraud monitoring apps available to provide continuous monitoring of your accounts and send you alerts when there’s any suspicious activity.
Fraud monitoring services are able to identify possible fraud and suspicious behavior based on a number of criteria. These can include things like location/IP address of the accessing device, failed password attempts, transaction amounts and frequency, etc. Good quality fraud monitoring can raise a red flag almost the instant suspicious activity is detected.
Ads on websites can be frustrating and annoying, as well as indicative of ad scripts that have been run on you while visiting web sites. More than that, some pop-up ads can actually be dangerous, unleashing malware onto your device the second you click on it. Sure, you could just close pop-ups as they come. But blocking them altogether can make things so much easier, and it eliminates any possibility of accidentally clicking on something you shouldn’t.
You can configure your ad settings in whatever web browser(s) you use. In addition to blocking any ads you don’t want to see, you can also control the kinds of ads you do want to see via specific personalization settings.
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They can’t catch you or take your information if they can’t find you. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) better enables your online privacy by continuously rerouting your internet connection. It also offers you a secure internet connection wherever you may be (depending on the breadth of a VPN provider’s available host servers). That way, you don’t have to rely on any notoriously insecure public wi-fi access.
Similarly, a web proxy server protects your network by acting as its online intermediary. It substitutes your IP address for its own. Any information you send or receive gets routed through that go-between address. Any hackers or scammers who attempt to access your network will only be able to see the proxy; they cannot get direct access to your home network.
Anyone who’s been online for a while will know the frustration of trying to remember a password. Easily guessed passwords like “1234” or “password” just won’t cut it. Nor are you supposed to use a password for more than one account at a time. And you shouldn’t write them down or share them with anyone. But it can be difficult remembering multiple complex passwords.
A password manager helps you to create the complex and unique passwords you need for each online account. And, best of all, the manager remembers all of those passwords for you. The only password you need to remember is the one that accesses the password manager. That one gives you access to all.
The manager may also be used to store and organize all of your online accounts. Having a visual record like that can actually help you to determine if an account is one you still use. If not, then you can make the decision to delete it altogether. You can curate all of your online accounts and keep your footprint nice and tidy.
These are six of the most common online privacy tools you can use. Some of them are more complicated to use than others and offer very specific security needs. And some of them may actually be overkill for the day-to-day internet surfer.
For that, don’t think you have to use all of these online privacy tools to feel safer and more secure online. You don’t. But choosing at least one or two will go a very long way toward ensuring your safety, as well as your peace of mind whenever you do go online.
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