How to Protect Your Privacy Online – The modern Web is increasingly rich in services and social networks. Today more than ever, with all the information pouring into the net, our online privacy and security is in danger. It therefore becomes essential to take countermeasures to browse safely and protect your sensitive data.
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How to protect your privacy online
Furthermore, it is important to keep an eye on all the data about us that ends up on the net and that contributes to our digital reputation . For example, when you upload something of your own to a social network, you have to think that it is “public” , even if we only share it with friends, in fact we cannot control how this data will be used by the people with whom we share it. Whether this data will impact our reputation in a positive or negative way will all depend on the content and how it will be used.
In this article we will try to make you open your eyes to all those threats that we normally do not pay attention to, but which can cause us serious damage. And so we will see how to protect ourselves adequately.
The importance of online reputation
The material that ends up on us on the net is not easy to control, we must always be careful of the image we give of ourselves on social networks. In today’s world, sometimes some jobs are missed after potential employers have consulted the candidates’ social profiles.
Also, keep in mind that when content becomes public on the net, anyone can copy and re-share it . From that moment we lose control of it and that content (an image, a video or even a status) could continue to circulate on the net forever, perhaps continuing to damage our reputation.
Special companies have been born that take care of cleaning up the online reputation of their customers, but even these are unlikely to be able to guarantee the right to be forgotten.
The risk of identity theft
You should always be especially careful when sharing your sensitive data over the network. Identity theft is a particularly serious threat , there are many who steal other people’s data to commit crimes, acquiring sensitive information, just to carry out scams. Identity theft works in a very simple way: sometimes on the net we inadvertently provide our data to the bad guys, who use them to impersonate us on the net.
There is some information that is particularly greedy for scammers and on which it is always necessary to pay great attention:
- username and password of our online banking services;
- Google account credentials (or our Gmail email);
- your Apple ID credentials;
- username and password often common for different accounts;
- their complete personal data and photocopies or photos of their documents.
Among this information, perhaps the most essential to protect are the credentials of the Google account (and therefore of Gmail) and Apple ID (therefore also of iCloud). These are cloud ecosystems (that is, permanent on the network), which to provide services that make our lives easier (backups of our sensitive data, suggestions, maps) contain a lot of information about us .
For example, if location history is activated on our Google account, by logging in with our credentials, we can find all the places we have visited. Within the Google account can also be saved our passwords , our clicks and all our searches.
For banking credentials, the first danger is online phishing , via email or otherwise. It has happened to everyone to receive false communications inviting you to enter your credentials, on a site that looks like the official one but wasn’t. Such fake sites look similar to the real ones , but have a different address. To be sure, always check that the address of your credit institution is correct, and always avoid clicking on these email messages.
If you have clicked on one of these emails and provided your credentials on a suspicious site, you should contact your credit institution immediately to block access to your account . A good security system, which almost all online services adopt by now, is two-factor authentication , which we talked about in the article just linked.
The risk represented by the connection
We never think about it enough, but more and more often we access the sensitive services indicated above via WiFi network , risking exposing ourselves to the bad guys without meaning to. This risk is small if you connect to your secure home WiFi network, but it is high if you connect to a public network .
In fact, anyone could capture the packets, decrypt them and have access to our passwords. It happens more and more often to connect to public hotspots, given that they are increasingly popular and that practically everyone has a smartphone or tablet.
For this reason, if you often connect to public WiFi networks, such as those of institutions (universities, offices , libraries) or public places, squares, airports, bars, it is advisable to protect your traffic and therefore your online privacy with a VPN.
A VPN, by its nature, works by encrypting all your traffic that will be sent to one of the proprietary servers of the service. Once traffic is properly encrypted, even if packets are intercepted it is virtually impossible to decrypt them .
Again, not all VPNs are created equal , in fact it is strongly advised not to use the free ones to access sensitive data. Many users using free VPNs have been victims of scams and data theft.
Maintaining a VPN service by those who manage them is expensive and for this reason free VPNs often sell user data packages to the highest bidder. Sometimes these data are used to extrapolate useful information from a commercial point of view (profiling), others have ended up in less recommendable hands.
You are never truly anonymous on the net without a VPN
This is a concept that escapes most people, but when each one connects to the network, it is identified by a unique IP address . Unique means that only you on the net have it at that moment, through the IP address the postal police usually find and frame those who are criminals on the net. In short, the IP address works a bit like the number plate on your car, in fact it allows you to trace who pays for the device’s Internet connection. Finally, to access the name of the client and his exact position, a mandate from the judiciary is needed.
The only way to truly protect your online anonymity and ultimately your online privacy is to use a VPN . A VPN service by its nature will make it appear as if all your network traffic is coming from another location (specifically from the chosen server) and from another IP address.
To effectively safeguard your anonymity it is essential to opt for a no logs VPN service . The logs are the recordings of connections to a server, through which one could reconstruct which sites a user connected to and at what times.