Incidents involving the mishandling of consumer data have made headlines recently. Amazon was fined a record $887 million for violating consumer privacy laws, and WhatsApp reportedly lost millions of customers after its privacy policy was updated and proved unpopular due to privacy issues. Recent reports indicate that in response to the pandemic and new legislation, privacy budgets increased by 13% last year to $2.7 million from $2.4 million for the average organization.

Clearly, privacy is at the top of everyone’s mind as digital footprints have surged in the wake of the pandemic. Privacy has also proved beneficial for organizations, especially small and medium-sized businesses. Recent statistics show us that SMBs have reportedly gained benefits of $3.0 million (typically benefits worth 1.8 times their privacy investment) on average.

So, more and better privacy is a good thing. In this guest post, Andrew Dalman will talk about key ways in which users can protect their online privacy better. For more information on how your organization can help guarantee employee and user privacy, please reach out to IT security Vancouver.

5 Key Ways to Boost Your Online Privacy

Never overshare on social media

Be careful of the information you share on social media. It could make it easier for cybercriminals to steal your identity. Cybercriminals can use personal information posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels to steal your identity or access your financial information. Don’t include too much personal information in your online profiles. This can include information such as where you were born or what year. You should also refrain from overtly revealing relationships (and details of relationships) such as those with parents, siblings, spouses, etc. Chances are that even if you are careful with your personal information and someone in your network is not, cybercriminals could try latching on to your network to glean information about you. Try out different privacy settings on social media. For instance, you might want to limit views of your posts to the people you’ve personally approved. Needless to say, you should use strong passwords for all of your social media profiles and never share or store this information to help prevent others from using your credentials. Strong passwords generally involve a combination of at least 12 numbers, special characters, and upper and lower-case letters.

Surf the web in private 

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 browse the Internet in private mode, your browser does not save your browsing history or temporary internet files. Private browsing modes are available in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Private modes are not completely private, however. However, always keep in mind that the ISP (and your employer in the workplace) can still see your activity. The websites that a user visits may also use trackers. But this is still way better than keeping all your tabs open for years on the same browser where all cookies and temporary internet files can be stored for months or years.

Try out a different search engine

For some web users, using Google as a search engine is a way of life. But you don’t have to rely on Google. Many people are turning to anonymous search engines because they prefer not to reveal their search histories or clicks. These types of search engines block ad trackers on the sites users visit. A prime example of this can be anonymous search engines like DuckDuckGo that are dedicated to protecting user privacy. This type of search engine doesn’t collect or share your search history or clicks, and it can block ad trackers and pop-ups on the websites you visit.

Make use of a virtual private network

A virtual private network (VPN) is a private network that uses a public telecommunications infrastructure such as the internet. VPNs enable users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network and thus are often used in place of dedicated hardware. A VPN helps protect user privacy by providing an encrypted connection between the user’s computer or mobile device and the internet. The encryption protects the data traveling across this connection from being spied upon by others. For information on reputed VPNs and to find the best deal on VPNs, please refer to Managed IT Services Vancouver

Secure your mobile devices

It’s important to protect your privacy when using mobile devices. To start, use a passcode to lock your phone. It might seem like a hassle to enter a code every time you want to access the home screen of your phone or tablet. But this passcode could offer an extra layer of protection if your phone or tablet is lost or stolen. Complexity is key in creating strong passcodes. Never use dates or any personal information that a thief could guess or could get access to. You should also never reuse passcodes. Keep in mind that apps installed through third-party markets can contain malware or viruses. You should only download apps and games from legitimate sources. Software updates are also important. Updates and security patches include protections against new viruses and other security issues, so make sure you update your mobile devices on a regular basis. If you are anything like the average user, you likely spend way more time on your mobile devices compared to your work devices, like a laptop or desktop. As such, it makes sense to be wary when searching the web or reading e-mails as you would be if using your home computer. For more information, IT Consulting Vancouver offers vast resources on protecting user privacy online.

About Andrew:

Andrew Dalman is the President of ActiveCo Technology Management and IT Support Vancouver company. Andrew comes from an operational perspective; his tenure at ActiveCo emphasizes working with customers to closely understand their business plans and successfully incorporate the technology component into those plans. Under his leadership, ActiveCo has developed expertise that focuses on enriching the extensive customer relationships by integrating strategic and operational focus areas through consulting. When Andrew is not in the office, you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter getting outside, traveling, and pursuing adventures together. LinkedIn.

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