Although after the PRISM revelations our casual online privacy concerns seem trite but it always pays to be careful. Private information falling into the hands of wrong people, even if they don’t cause you financial or mortal danger, can create lots of unnecessary nuisance.
Why you should be worried about online privacy?
One reason is the fear of identity theft where people use your personal details to pretend being you and practically take over your life. They can get hold of your credit card and other financial details. In your name they can start spending money. They can pretend to be the guardians of your children. The list goes on.
Even if we are not worried about illegal aspects of online privacy, businesses and organizations continuously collect data to monitor your behavior on the Internet and then advertise to you accordingly. There is nothing wrong in it, but it can become a problem when they start deciding what is good or bad for you and then accordingly tailor content that you encounter on the web. This constrains your choice and it also eliminates chances of stumbling into something totally new and enlightening.
The same concern applies to the private photographs and videos that you share on Facebook and Google Plus. You never know who might be watching them and to whom he or she might be forwarding your personal details.
The privacy concerns listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. People have done their PhD’s on the subject.
20 ways you can protect your online privacy
- Don’t share your phone number publicly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and other such websites
- Restrain yourself from publicly sharing bits of information such as the exact ages of your kids, in which school they go, etc.
- Don’t share your address unless it is your business address
- Change your Facebook privacy settings so that only your close friends and family members can see your photographs
- Never remain logged into your e-mail account if your computer, laptop or tablet PC is shared by multiple people
- Don’t exchange private information while using an open/public Wi-Fi connection
- Don’t allow websites to store cookies locally on your computer to monitor your net usage behavior
- Logout from your e-mail account, especially your Google account if possible because Google collects information to customize ads
- Create a separate e-mail account for your social media profiles, online forum interactions and for all those services where you have the submit your e-mail ID casually.
- Use a proxy server while surfing the web so that nobody can easily find out where you are surfing from
- Use an anonymous identity if it doesn’t matter whether people recognize you online or not
- Don’t display your e-mail ID on your website, use a contact form instead
- Don’t exchange personal details at workplace because your personal communications might be monitored
- Don’t reply to spammers and phishing e-mails
- Don’t participate in chain mail campaigns
- Never submit your credit card details unless it is a secure, authorized vendor
- Never click an e-mail link that takes you to your bank website or PayPal account – always manually type the URL
- Activate 2-factor authentication whenever possible; whenever you need to use your password or log onto a critical online account, a verification pin is sent via SMS to your registered phone number. Unless you enter that pin, you cannot log in
- Only use trusted apps on your smart phones and tablets
- Avoid using the same password on every website because if via hacking or other means someone gets access to your one online account, he or she can have access to all your accounts.