How to protect your online privacy
Authored by a Symantec employee
Do you ever think about how much of your private information is out there on the internet and exposed to theft or misuse? You’re not alone. Online privacy is an important issue and one that has become a recent topic of conversation.
With the amount of data and information we share online it may seem like a daunting task to retain your online privacy, but there are steps you can take to protect your financial and personal information while you visit your favourite social media, news, and entertainment sites.
Tips for internet privacy
Here are some ways you can boost your online privacy.
Secure all your mobile devices
Many of us spend more time surfing the web, answering emails, and watching videos on our smartphones than we do on our laptops. It’s important, then, to put as much effort into protecting our online privacy on our phones and tablets as on our computers.
To start, make sure to use a passcode to lock your phone. It might seem like a hassle to enter a code every time you want to access your phone’s home screen. But this passcode could offer an extra layer of protection if your phone is lost or stolen. Make sure your passcode is complex. Don’t use your birthdate, your house number, or any other code that thieves might be able to guess.
Ensure you install a security solution on your devices and one that provides you with all-round protection that’s easy to use. Don’t ignore security software updates, either. These updates often include important protections against the latest viruses, spyware and ransomware. If you continue to ignore them, you could be leaving your smartphone’s operating system and programs vulnerable to attack.
Use a virtual private network
A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address so your online actions are almost invisable.
Using a VPN is especially important when you’re on public Wi-Fi no matter where it is at - a library, coffee shop, hotel, airport or other public location. A VPN will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access your personal information.
The standalone Norton Secure VPN has a no-log policy, meaning it does not collect, or “log,” information transmitted through the network. It doesn’t save information about users’ personal details, where users go online, or what users download or search for. Therefore, users’ online activities stay private and anonymous.
You can find many free VPN solutions, but it could make more sense to pay for a service from a trusted security provider if you want the maximum amount of privacy protection while online.
Limit the personal information you share on social media
A smart way to help protect your privacy online? Be careful not to overshare on social media. Giving too much information in your status updates or posts on social media could make it easier for cybercriminals to obtain identifying information, which could then allow them to steal your information or to access your financial information.
For example, could a cybercriminal determine your house address or your mother’s maiden name from digging through your online posts? This information is sometimes used as security questions to change passwords on important online accounts.
To protect your online privacy, ignore the “About Me” fields in your social media profiles. You don’t have to let people know what year or where you were born — which could make you an easier target. Explore different privacy settings, too. You might want to limit the people who can view your posts to those you’ve personally invited.
Create strong passwords
Creating strong passwords on your online accounts is important. Whether your banking, shopping or on social media profiles, having secure individual passwords for each login can help prevent others from logging into all of them in your name. Using a password manager will help to safeguard your logins by generating secure passwords and allow you easier access by storing them in one place for you to access more safely.
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Browse in incognito or private mode
If you don’t want your computer to save your browsing history, temporary internet files, or cookies, do your web surfing in private mode. When you search with these modes turned on, others won’t be able to trace your browsing history from your computer.
But these private modes aren’t completely private. When you’re searching in incognito or private mode, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see your browsing activity. If you are searching on a company computer, so can your employer. The websites you visit can also track you.
So, yes, incognito browsing does have certain benefits. But it’s far from the only tool available to help you maintain your privacy while online. A VPN can bolster your online privacy.
Be careful where you click
One of the ways in which cybercriminals could compromise your online privacy is through phishing attempts. With phishing, scammers try to trick you into providing valuable financial or personal information. They’ll often do this by sending fake emails that appear to be from banks, credit card providers, or other financial institutions. Often, these emails will say that you must click on a link and verify your financial information to keep your account from being frozen or closed.
Don’t fall for these scams. They may look like the real thing but if you click on a phishing link, you could be taken to a spoofed webpage that looks like the homepage of a bank or financial institution. But when you enter in your account information, you’ll be sending it to the scammers behind the phishing attempt, not any bank, credit union, or credit card company. Before clicking on suspicious links, hover your cursor over the link to view the destination URL. If it doesn’t match the financial website you use, don’t click.
Remember that banks or other financial institutions will never ask you to provide account or financial information through an email.
Secure your webcam
Your webcam lets you keep in close contact with family, friends or colleagues but can be vulnerable to attack, giving cybercriminals an up-close view into your home, your daily routine, and personal information. Protecting against attempts to access your webcam and blocking those who are not authorized to access it is important.
Is there a single solution to help protect my online privacy?
Protecting your online privacy across all your devices can seem like a large undertaking but there is a solution that can help –
Introducing NEW Norton™ 360 - Multiple layers of protection against existing and emerging cyberthreats in today’s connected world ‒ in one single solution.
With Norton™ 360, you get real-time protection for your PC, Mac®, iOS or Android™ device against viruses, phishing and other cyberthreats. Plus, Norton Secure VPN adds bank-grade encryption to help secure the information you send and receive on Wi-Fi connections and helps prevent companies from tracking your online activities or locations. You can access content on your favourite websites and apps as if from the security of your own home.
Also included in NEW Norton™ 360 is Norton Password Manager - providing the tools you need to generate and store all your passwords, credit card information and other information online.
Norton Cloud Backup for PC helps store important files ‒ from documents and family photos to financial data ‒ as a preventive measure against the loss of data due to hard drive failures, stolen devices and even ransomware.
Norton Safecam for PC alerts and helps you block unauthorised access to your webcam.
Learn more about how NEW Norton™ 360 can help you protect more than just your online privacy.
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