It's Time to Up Your Personal Privacy Game
- Written by Remar Sutton
- Category: Articles
Are you concerned about your online and offline privacy? Some people aren't concerned because they think they have nothing to hide or that all of their information has already been stolen. Well, it's never too late to protect yourself, your identity, your family, your home, and your money.
More and more we are tracked by many devices in our homes and outside.
More and more we are tracked by many devices in our homes and outside. Whether they are listening to us, watching us, or silently collecting data, there are steps you can take to reduce or stop the data collection.
Reduce or Stop Data Collection
Be cautious about providing your information
Before providing your personal information to a business or website, determine if the benefits you will receive are worth giving up those pieces of your privacy. For example, some businesses ask for your email address, ZIP code, or other information when you are checking out. Ask why they need it and what they will use it for. Review privacy policies and other site information to determine what the site will do with your information and who they will share with before filling out online forms or signing up for a service.
Use two-factor authentication
This makes it more difficult for thieves to get into your account or device even if they acquire your password. When you use two-factor authentication, you need two pieces of information, typically a password and a one-time use code. The code can be provided by text message or an authentication app. An authentication app, like Authy, is more secure than a text message but not all accounts support an app.
Two-factor authentication isn't just for your financial accounts. It should be enabled on Internet of Things (IoT) devices too, like security cameras. For example, many Ring cameras around the country were recently hacked surprising residents.
Opt out of advertiser tracking
Almost everywhere you go online, you are being tracked. You can opt out of data sharing or tracking from many sites. The site, simpleoptout.com provides information and links to the opt out pages of over 50 companies.
Change or enhance your browser
The browser you use can make a difference in how you are tracked. Some browsers help you protect your privacy better than others. For example, Firefox will protect you from trackers, cryptominers, and fingerprinters. Browser extensions can also enhance your privacy. UBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Firefox on Android. Firefox Focus is available for iPhone. Other privacy focused browsers include Brave (desktop and mobile) and Epic Privacy browser (PC & Mac).
Use a different search engine
DuckDuckGo and Startpage are two search engines that do not track you or save your searches. In many browsers you can set it as your default search engine.
Turn off Bluetooth and location services when you aren't using them. These can be used for tracking you. Bluetooth beacons are used by stores, billboards, malls, and many other places. You don't have to have a store's app because the tracking code can be in any app.
Periodically review the settings on your phone. You will want to review the privacy settings and the permissions for each app. Disable access for any permissions that don't make sense. If you have an iPhone, look under Privacy. On Android, look under Apps.
Update your devices
To ensure that your devices are as secure as possible, enable automatic updates for your computer, laptop, smartphone, and other smart devices. Install and update security software, too. You will also need to ensure that all of your connected devices (thermostats, light bulbs, speakers, security cameras, printers, routers, etc.) are automatically updated.
More Ways to Protect Your Privacy
These articles provide more tips.
Alexa, Delete What I Just Said! Here's how to prevent Amazon from listening in – Delete your voice recordings and stop sharing them with Amazon, Google, and Apple
Lock Down Your Gmail Account Like It's Fort Knox: Google Advanced Protection Program – Describes Google's highest level of account security though it's not free
What Google Knows About You May Be a Shock. Here's how to manage or delete your activity – Provides steps to help you see the data Google has on you, how to delete it, and limit Google's access to your information
From Consumer Reports:
How to Turn Off Smart TV Snooping Features – Provides steps to help you turn off automatic content recognition
How a Photo's Hidden 'Exif' Data Exposes Your Personal Information – Discusses the uses of Exif data and how you can remove it
Who Is Watching You? – Tips to take more control of your digital privacy
How to Erase Your Personal Information from the Internet (it's not impossible) – Describes ways to remove your information from the internet