6 things you can do now to protect your privacy online

Person in a cafe

Being mindful of one’s digital footprint has been a prominent topic for quite some time but there are ample reasons not to take it as a priority. You may simply resign to the feeling that “all privacy is lost” as the apps and websites already seem know everything about you. Or, you may just not be very aware of the traces of your online activity. However, it of course does make sense to think about your privacy and take concrete steps to protect it. So, while the first step is changing your mindset about the possibility of privacy, we also suggest taking the steps below to secure your privacy online.

1. Limit app and website tracking

Check the privacy settings on your device and limit access to your personal information such as your location. Also, check the individual privacy settings of your social media accounts, as well as your Google account. Delete as much saved information about your activity on the apps as possible and restrict further auto-save of activity and app usage.
Where possible, avoid logging into accounts using Google or Facebook since this allows them to collect data about you even when you are not using their services directly. For example, logging into a web store account with a Facebook or Google account gives the platforms information about your interests that can be used to tailor ads to you. Though the social media login is simpler than creating an actual account, you are sacrificing your privacy to the convenience.

2. Secure your accounts

In addition to creating secure password combinations, consider using a password manager. It allows you to create passwords consisting of random letter and number combinations that you don’t need to memorise, and your passwords are locked away from anyone else.
Opt for a two-factor authentication for all of your accounts to add an extra security layer.

3. Keep your devices up to date

System updates usually contain security improvements, so make sure to have your device update itself automatically as soon as a new update is available. We suggest to do the same with apps, too. Take care to choose a suitable time for the updates, so that it causes no inconveniences.

4. Use browser extensions

Consider using a reliable browser extension that block ads and trackers. It prevents various websites from tracking your activity that is usually used for ad tailoring on various platforms. If possible, use a privacy-minded browser.

5. Avoid using public WiFi networks

People with ill intentions can gain access to the traffic of a “free” network with ease, so consider using a personal hotspot for browsing the web on your computer if a password protected network is not available. A regular web browsing session or working with emails do not consume a lot of data, so you’re likely not risking maxing out your data plan while taking care of your privacy.

6. Practice general cyber hygiene

You are probably aware of the following, but let’s go over the cyber hygiene basics just in case:

  • Don’t download suspicious applications.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links.
  • Don’t use too simple passwords.
  • Double check the sender of strange emails and don’t fall prey to “urgent” matters.
  • Don’t share any personal data or bank card credentials – not even to a “bank” or any other official-posing institution that is asking for these credentials.