11 Best Ways to Secure Your Privacy in 2021

secure your privacy

If you are worried about the fate of your data on the internet, then you are not alone in this situation. Between January 1 2005 and May 21, 2020, there have been 11,762 recorded data breaches.

In the first half of 2020 alone, breaches exposed 36 billion records. According to Verizon, 86% of data breaches are for financial reasons, and 10% are motivated by espionage.

With the high rate of data breaches, and apps being used to steal data, you must do what you can to secure your privacy. In this article, we would understand what internet privacy is, and discuss the various ways to ensure your privacy is secure.

Your activities on the internet are being monitored by apps and the websites you visit. You can liken it to a stalker who follows you wherever you go and knows your every move. By doing so they can predict your actions with a great level of accuracy. Creepy right? This is why you need to hold back as much information as possible to stay secure even when online.

What Is Internet Privacy?

Internet privacy also known as online privacy refers to the amount of your personal information that remains private between the two parties involved in internet communication when you access the internet. A lot of your data can be accessed when you go online, thereby putting you in harm’s way.

In May 2019, Australian graphics design tool; Canva, suffered a privacy breach that affected 137 million user accounts. The breach exposed user details such as names, email addresses, usernames, and also city of residence.

Even though the company informed its users and requested that they change their passwords and reset their OAuth tokens, some accounts were still decrypted and shared online. 

“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly. I believe people are smart. Some people want to share more than other people do. Ask them.” -Steve Jobs

11 Tips to Secure Your Privacy

1. Use A VPN

With a Virtual Private Network, you can stay anonymous and have your internet traffic encrypted. They do this by sending your web traffic through a tunnel where the encryption takes place. This way, your traffic would be useless even if it gets intercepted by a third party. Since you select a server through which the VPN sends your request to the web, you remain anonymous as the sender’s IP address wouldn’t be yours.

The use of VPNs to secure your privacy is particularly useful when you connect to free Wi-Fi. A VPN would make it difficult for a hacker to steal your data even if the Wi-Fi network is compromised. According to Statista 54% of all desktop VPN users and 57% of mobile VPN users use the service to protect their devices on public Wi-Fi.

Being that a VPN plays a very important role in securing your privacy, it only makes sense that you choose one that is reliable. LimeVPN is a top-rated VPN service provider that provides you with military-grade AES 256 encryption. It would take millions of years to decrypt your data even with the fastest computers. They are also numerous servers available for you, each one providing you top speed. So you are sure of a great user experience at all times.

Common Mistakes People Do

The use of free VPNs to secure privacy. This is because free VPNs don’t offer robust encryption compared to paid VPNs. They also leak your IP address so that you are not completely anonymous after all. 

Pro Tip

Only use paid VPN services as they are more reliable and secure your privacy. 

2. Use Anonymous Search Engines

Many web surfers use Google as their primary and only search engine. Google doesn’t offer you any privacy at all, and they save your activities and track you as well. For the sake of privacy, consider using other search engines that offer you privacy such as DuckDuckGo. They don’t collect your search history, and they also block out ad trackers.

Common Mistakes People Do

Constantly using Google to search for every query

Pro Tip

To avoid having your search history and habits analyzed and stored, use a private search engine

3. Put Off Ad Personalization

When ad personalization is on, the companies can have access to track your activities. So whenever it is possible, turn it off.

For Google accounts and Android devices, use this link to limit ad personalization on your device.

Limit ad personalization for your apple devices with this link

For your Twitter account, click here for a guide on how to opt-out of ad personalization.

For Facebook, click here and toggle your ad settings to ‘not allowed’. Also, click here to disconnect your activities that take place off Facebook from Facebook.

Take it further by going to my google activity page and deleting everything you possibly can. This page shows you every item you have ever searched, every YouTube video you have ever watched, and other data like that. You can also turn off location history, web and app activity, as well as YouTube history.

Common Mistakes People Do

Allow your settings to remain in the default way

Pro Tip

Check and change settings for your accounts according to what you are okay with. 

4. Protect Your Accounts

According to Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity, Electronic Frontier Foundation, some steps can be taken to protect your accounts. These steps include the use of strong passwords, updating your apps once there is an update available, and also two-factor authentication.

Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are longer than 8 digits and are more difficult to guess than weak passwords. They include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.

To protect your accounts, use different passwords for each account. This way your other accounts won’t be compromised once there is a hack to one. Avoid using passwords such as 1234 or abcd as they are very easy to guess. Also, don’t use easy-to-guess passwords such as your date of birth, or your name.

If you are worried about forgetting your strong password due to its complexities, password managers are there for you. With password managers, you can store all your passwords and only require the passphrase to the password manager.

Two Factor Authentication

Many platforms would advise that you enable two-factor authentication to make your account more secure. To do this, you would provide your phone number with which you can receive a text message before you log in. Galperin however says that this method of security isn’t the strongest as the messages can be intercepted. To truly provide an additional authentication layer, use an app like Google Authenticator. You can also use a physical key as a second authenticator.

Updates

Updates are necessary as they often come with a security patch that exists and is known by everyone. Failure to update your software puts you at risk of being hacked through such vulnerability.

Common Mistakes People Do

Using weak passwords such as birthday or name of someone close to you

Pro-Tip

Use a difficult-to-remember password to stay safe. A password manager would come in handy if you fear forgetting your passwords 

5. Stay Alert of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are aimed at making us hand over our sensitive information to hackers. This scam can be played using email, text message, or even a phone call. 97% of users can’t recognize a phishing email. 30% of these users open a phishing email and 12% of these users click on the malicious link contained in the email.

Data that phishing actors most commonly seek includes passwords and usernames to bank accounts or your social media accounts, and also social security numbers. According to Security Boulevard, a single spear-phishing attack can cause an average loss of $1.6 million. 

Some signs of a phishing email are spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, emails from a strange domain, and also links to another website other than the one it should be linking you to. As is commonly said, if it feels fishy, then it’s phishing.

Common Mistakes People Do

Clicking every link contained in emails even if it doesn’t make sense

Pro Tip

Visit a website by yourself rather than click on the link from an email especially if the mail is fishy

6. Secure Your Devices

By securing your devices, you make it difficult for someone to have unauthorized access to your social media accounts, emails, and other accounts on your device. When remote access isn’t possible, hackers can physically gain access through your device if you make it easy for them.

By enabling a password or passcode on your device, you would be protecting your data on the device. Even if it’s a hassle to always enter a password or code every time, it’s worth it. Just as with passwords to your online accounts, make the password or code complex. Don’t use easy-to-guess characters such as 12345 or abcde. Also, avoid the use of your birthday or name.

“Choose strong passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly.”MIT Information Systems and Technology

Another way to secure your privacy through your device is to be careful of the apps you download. Not all apps are trusted as some come with viruses embedded in them. So when downloading apps, only get them from your app store.

Software updates are very important as they most times come with fixed patches and upgrades to protect against viruses and malware. So once there is an update, don’t ignore it.

Common Mistakes People Do

Ignoring updated notifications

Pro Tip

Always respond to notifications by updating apps and operating systems

7. Use Browsers Instead of Apps

Apps usually require permissions to work well on your phone, and sometimes those permissions are not necessary. for example, a calculator app asking for permission to access your contacts. What for?

Some apps don’t even ask for permission to access your data, but they steal your data without your knowledge and sell it. Because of this, it’s advisable to delete all apps from your phone that you are not using. you can protect your privacy even more by using the web version of platforms rather than the app version. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Browsers are the preferred option because they don’t have access to much information as your apps can. 

Common Mistakes People Do

Constantly using apps because there are more convenient

Pro Tip

Always choose privacy over convenience by using the web version of platforms rather than the app versions

8. Share Limited Information On Social Media

“Privacy is dead, and social media holds the smoking gun.” – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable

There is no telling the extent to which your data travels once it’s put online. When you provide so much information about yourself on social media platforms, it makes it easier for criminals to track you or steal your identity. They can do this when they have the right information even through social media.

A study by Identity Theft Resource Center in 2018 showed that 52% of respondents of the study shared personally identifying information about themselves on their social media accounts. 48% of respondents shared information about their children on their social media accounts as well, and 42% of respondents shared details of their travel plans on social media too.

You mustn’t fill in the “About me” fields on social media as it is a tempting place to reveal too much. Also, make use of your privacy settings and limit those who can view your profile and posts. 

Prevent things from going wrong with your social media accounts by using strong passwords. This way, it would be difficult for people to have unauthorized access to your accounts and make posts or send messages in your name.

Common Mistakes People Do

Providing too much information on your social media bio 

Pro Tip

Ignore the ‘bio’ section or only post something ambiguous about yourself if you must

9. Use Encrypted Chat Apps

There are high chances that your messages can be accessed by third parties. To prevent this from happening, use encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp instead. This ensures that every communication only exists between the sender and receiver. Note however that even though encryption protects the content of your message, metadata still exists and a lot can be learned from it.

iMessage is also an encrypted platform, but it offers selective encryption. Messages between iPhones are encrypted, but those from an iPhone to another type of device are not encrypted.

Even when using encrypted chat apps, note that backing up your messages and other data to the cloud could strip your chats off of its encryption. Cloud services like drive and iCloud only provide storage services, not encryption services.

Common Mistakes People Do

Sharing private and sensitive data over unencrypted messengers 

Pro Tip

Only share sensitive data over encrypted messengers to ensure they don’t get into the wrong hands

10. Use Antivirus Software

Good antivirus software works to clean out malware from your device, thereby preventing hackers from stealing your data, location and remotely taking over your device. So it’s good practice to install good antivirus software on all your devices.

It doesn’t end with installing the software, but you would also have to update it whenever there is an update available. Manufacturers always provide updates when they have improved on the defense against malware, spyware, Trojans, and others.

Common Mistakes People Do

Neglecting the need for an antivirus, and ignoring the update antivirus notification

Pro Tip

Use strong antivirus and update it whenever a new version is available 

11. Use Incognito When Browsing

The benefit of browsing incognito is that your computer won’t save your cookies, browsing history, or even temporary internet files. It’s important if you want to browse with some level of privacy and that’s why many web browsers come with this feature. It’s different for different browsers, for example, in chrome it’s called incognito. In Mozilla, it’s called private browsing. Internet Explorer calls its InPrivate Browsing. 

Note however that using incognito mode doesn’t stop your internet service provider from seeing what you are up to. Websites can also track you as well even with incognito. So even though it’s one way to secure your privacy, there is a limit to what it can do.

Common Mistakes People Do

Browsing off incognito but deleting tabs

Pro Tip

Deleting tabs doesn’t erase your activity. So to keep you searches personal, go incognito

Top-Rated Security Tools

“If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it.” – Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO

With LimeVPN, you can have internet access without worrying about your data as everything is encrypted. With their AES 256 encryption, no one would know what you are up to online. Connecting your devices to LimeVPN as well makes them even more secure.

&This is because a hacker would find it difficult to break in and steal data. If you want other methods of maintaining internet privacy, there are apps you can use that have respect for your privacy. They are private messaging apps, encrypted email apps, browsers that block most trackers, and you can even use operating systems that run off USB sticks. Below is a list of some of the tools we recommend to secure your privacy:

VPN

Two-Factor Authentication

Encrypted Chat

Encrypted VOIP/video calls

Encrypted File Storage

Private Browsing

Encrypted Browser Plugin

Private Search

Tracker and JavaScript Blockers

Password Manager

Live Operating System

Conclusion

You can secure your privacy by limiting the amount of information you give away. You can do this while you continue using the internet, but by being careful and knowing what you share and why, you can make the internet safer for you. If you are not comfortable with the amount of information the service is asking from you, there are other options you can choose from instead.

LimeVPN processes your traffic, and as such, they can see what you search for, or which sites you are visiting. since they take your privacy seriously, they have a strict no-logs policy, meaning they don’t save your data and what you do is entirely your business. Using such apps and services that respect your privacy is the best way to stay online without giving off too much information

A Complete gamer and a Tech Geek. Brings out all her thoughts and love in writing blogs on IOT, software, technology etc