What is the scarcest commodity these days? Oil? Water? Spectrum bundles in my neighborhood? Actually, for most people, its privacy. In the digital age, privacy is very rare. Try this experiment if you do not believe me. Visit a site like Pipl.com and search for yourself. The number of companies who have information on your name, date of birth, address, income, etc. will shock you.
How can I Protect Myself?
This data on you is worth a lot of money to both legitimate businesses as well as shady cybercriminals. Legitimate businesses want this data so they can target you more precisely with their ads. Their purpose is to sell you as many goods and services as possible. Cybercriminals want to steal your identity, credit card information, and social security data. In either case, it pays to protect your digital privacy from third parties. Here are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Leave your social media profile incomplete
- Be very cautious when sharing social security information
- Secure and password protect your hardware
- Always use private browsing windows
- Go for 2-Factor Authentication
Here follows a brief explanation for each step.
Leave your social media profile incomplete
By completing your social media profile, you hand out quite a lot of valuable data on yourself. The more data on yourself is online, the more likely it is someone will get their hands on them. So what should you do? Do not cooperate, that’s what.
Have a look at your social media profiles. Leave them as blank as possible. Think of it this way. People who need to know your address, number, or birthday most likely already know them. Which begs the question, why share everything about yourself on social media? If privacy is a top priority for you, then sharing information on social media shouldn’t be.
Be very cautious when sharing social security information
We can’t stress enough on how important it is not to share your social security number. Unless it’s your bank, company, credit bureau or another entity that has to report to the IRS. If someone can get their hands on just 3 pieces of data on you, they can steal your digital identity. Your birth date, address, and social security number are all they need.
Even the last 4 digits of your social security number should be shared very cautiously. Given enough information, a cybercriminal can hack your identity after a dedicated effort. So exercise extreme caution when it comes to sharing social security information.
Secure and password protect your hardware
A hacker doesn’t necessarily have to hack in through a network to get at your data. If your PC, laptop, or phone is stolen, they can easily access this information. A good practice is to lock down and secure your hardware. Put a password on your computer for when it boots or wakes from sleep. Do the same with your mobile devices.
There are tons of apps that not only allow you to track your stolen phone but also remotely wipe it. This makes sure nobody gets their grubby hands on your data. You can also use anti-malware and anti-spyware software to protect your devices. You’ll need both to effectively protect your digital privacy from malicious attacks.
Always use private browsing windows
Using private browsing tabs when using a computer, many people can physically access is usually a good idea. Private browsing deletes history, temporary files, and cookies once you end the session. This prevents companies who are interested in your browsing habits from gaining new data on you.
Companies use this data to show you ads to coax you into buying things. To step things up a notch, browse the web anonymously using VPNs. This ensures complete anonymity while browsing, making tracking by third parties almost impossible.
Go for 2-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication helps, even if your primary password is compromised. Most social media platforms like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, etc. offer two-factor authentication to better secure your account. This means when you log in, you have to enter a special code in addition to your password.
This code is usually sent to your phone via text from the platforms mentioned above. Some services only require two-factor authentication when you log in from a new device. Others require it on every login. While it can seem like an annoyance, there is no denying two-factor authentication reduces the risk of unauthorized access? If the Spectrum internet packages on your mobile app have two-factor authentication, use it now and make sure you’re the only one accessing it.
If your Steam account does not have two-factor authentication enabled, enable it and protect your valuable gaming behavior. Essentially, any online account can be hacked. Two-factor authentication goes a long way to make that more difficult.