Internet privacy in 2021 is a concern for many people. Recent years should have taught us that keeping online data secure is becoming more difficult. Hackers and data thieves have grown more sophisticated in their methods. Satying Safe Onine in 2021 means being proactive in how you access and browse the Internet. Here are 15 Internet privacy tips for 2021 that will improve your security.
Stay Current on Device Updates
Some of the suggestions on this list come down to common sense. This is one of those. The devices we use to connect to the Internet today all require frequent software patches, upgrades, and updates. It can be annoying to receive those notifications and go through the process of an update.
The price of not keeping your devices updated can be high. You may be running applications that have a security flaw. You may be using a browser that puts your personal information at risk. Zero-day exploits are a favorite method of hackers. The only way to guard against new threats is to keep your device updated.
Turn Off Location Sharing and GPS
A lot of the apps we take for granted require the user to grant permission to location information. Some may even use your device’s GPS features to pinpoint your location. Social media sharing and checking in at our favorite physical locations is fun, until it isn’t.
There have been instances of individuals playing Pokemon Go who were lured into traps by muggers and assailants. When you share location information you are doing more than revealing your current location. You are also making it clear that you are not at home.
You have a choice. You do not have to grant permissions to apps which ask for your location. You need to ask yourself if app access is worth risking your Internet privacy in 2021.
Use Best Practices for Passwords
This is a piece of advice that is given over and over again. Why some people continue to ignore the advice is beyond explanation. Stop using the same password for all of your websites and email. When you do that, all a hacker needs to do is discover your primary password. They will then have access to your social media, banking, and more.
While we’re on the subject of passwords, you should strive to make yours unique. Using the same old 123456789 or the word “password” or your date of birth is asking for trouble. We recommend that you find and use a free password key generator. These handy tools are even found bundled with many browsers today. A single click will give you a complex and completely random password to use.
Stay Aware of Cookies
Tracking cookies have long been used on the Internet. Even though you have probably only heard bad things about them, cookies do serve some good purposes. They can create shorter load times for sites that you frequently visit, and they can help remember log in info and website preferences.
The downside is that cookies can also be used to track your browsing preferences. This information can be used by apps and social media platforms to serve up targeted ads. This is why you will often encounter ads on Facebook for something that you have previously shown interest in.
Most web browsers today give you the option to manage cookies. You can choose to allow only some of them, or you can choose to block them all. You can even specify how cookies are managed on a site-by-site basis.
Be Wary of Public Networks
Many people today use mobile devices for their sole Internet access point. A great number also frequently connect to unsecured public networks, often simply referred to as WiFi. Using a public network without any type of protection is one of the biggest privacy risks in 2021. You never know who is snooping these networks for private data.
Public networks can be found in abundance, especially in the United States. Hotels, coffee shops, museums, and many other types of access points are available within mere miles of where you live. You could even be reading this article on a public network right now. We suggest that you use some of the other top privacy tips for 2021 whenever you connect to unsecured public WiFi.
Always Log Out of Websites When You Are Finished
A good habit to establish is to always log out of websites when you are finished browsing. It even makes sense to do this with your own personal devices, but it is crucial if you happen to be using a computer that is provided by your employer or school.
When you just close out the web browser (and let’s hope you are at least doing that), you may remain logged into any sites you were using. This is accomplished by means of those cookies that we spoke about earlier. If someone else opens a browser behind you and navigates to Facebook, for example, your account may display if you didn’t log out. Whoever is now using the computer has access to your account and its settings.
Trust us when we say that families have been broken up when a spouse discovers activity or an unknown website account on the family device. Always log out, even when you are using your personal devices.
Stop Sharing Personal Data on Social Media
On the subject of social media, it is a growing concern among privacy experts how social media sharing can compromise your Internet safety. Even worse, it can put your everyday safety at risk. How many times have you checked in at a favorite restaurant? Posted that you are on vacation away from home? Just asking those questions has made you aware of how social media sharing can be a problem.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram do have measures that you can use to limit who has access to your account. Here come some more questions. How many people are on your friend’s list that you never interact with? How many that you don’t even know outside of Facebook?
We could go on here, but we know that some of you have now opened another window for a Facebook friend’s list and timeline purge. Carry on.
Keep Social Media Contacts Low
We just touched on this in the previous tip, so we will keep this simple. Keep the number of friends you have on social media to a reasonable level. Restrict your contacts to people you know. Unless you are a Kardashian, you don’t need 5,000 Facebook friends.
Use HTTPS Sites
Some Internet users are not very familiar with the HTTPS protocol. Take a peek at your web browser in the upper left corner where the address bar begins. See that padlock? If it’s closed, your are browsing on a secure version of the website which has been protected with TLS, or Transport Layer Security. What this means is that some basic encryption is used to help prevent hacking attempts which would compromise your Internet safety.
HTTPS is a good start, but your should remember that it does have limitations. It’s the best standard option for Internet safety. We recommend that you avoid sites which do not use the HTTPS protocol, especially if those sites try to collect any of your personal data.
Prefer Anonymous Browsing
If you are able to browse the Internet anonymously, do so. With that being said, how does one truly go about staying anonymous online? It is actually a detailed process, but you can complete the steps required with ease. The first of these is to understand your IP address and how it can be used to identify you.
An IP address is specific to an Internet access point. You can almost think of it as a digital type of 911 address. It can be tied to a certain device and location in many cases. To browse anonymously you will need to somehow obscure your IP address.
There are some web browsers like TOR which were specifically created for anonymous browsing. There are also VPNs, or virtual private networks, which allow you to hide your IP address in favor of the one belonging to the VPN server.
While we are on the subject…
Use a VPN
A VPN is still one of the top Internet privacy tips for 2021. There is no substitute when it comes to security, and VPNs can now be used on almost any device that is able to access the Internet. That includes phones, tablets, and even gaming consoles. There is no software download required. Your device already has a VPN client that is ready to be used, and VPNAccounts.com even has convenient apps that make the process simple.
VPNs are effective at what they do because of encryption. They basically form a secure tunnel between your device and your Internet access point. This makes it impossible for your ISP or any other entity to observe what you are doing online. They can see that you are connected, but your browsing activity is kept private.
Watch Out for Phishing Emails
Phishing emails have become a major security problem in 2021. The emails come from what appear to be trusted sources, often a website that you use regularly. The premise of the email is usually to inform you that your account has been compromised. You will then be told to click a link which will allow you to reset your password. Doing so will take you to a site which looks like PayPal or your favorite social media network. You can guess the rest. You’ll be prompted to enter your current credentials before you can change them. The game is over. You lose.
This type of hack continues to be used because it is so effective. You should always strive to make sure that the email you receive is from the actual web app or service you use. Most of these services will no longer ask for you to provide an old or existing password, and instead rely on things like two-factor authentication.
Use Encrypted Messaging
Instant messaging apps are more popular than ever. Some of them like WhatsApp have even added encrypted messaging to the mix. We think this type of messaging is a vast improvement over messaging apps that are not secure.
Ignore Messages From Unknown Senders
On the subject of instant messages, any messages you receive from an unknown sender should be regarded with caution. The phishing strategy that we talked about earlier can also be applied to messaging. Someone can even be impersonating a friend that you know in order to compromise your security.
Raise Your Guard Against Contests and Giveaways
Have you noticed that there are many contests and giveaways that appear on your social media feed? Some of them are legitimate marketing efforts. Others are just attempts to steal your personal data. A few may even be an attempt to scam you out of money.
Here’s the deal with these contests, if they seem too good to be true they probably are. Do your research before you are willing to sign up and provide your email address and other information.
Bonus Internet Security Tip – Avoid Hacked Social Media Pages
As a bonus tip we would offer this reminder. It is very popular today for individuals to hack or impersonate the social media pages of others. One of the most famous incidents in recent memory involved comedian and filmmaker Tyler Perry. False ads that Perry was giving away money to those who shared his posts went viral. They hack was so successful that Tyler Perry himself had to take to social media to address it and warn his followers.
With a little effort you can keep yourself safe online in 2021. A good place to start is one of our VPNs. We have affordable and reliable VPN solutions for Internet privacy that you can start using today. Zero trust security is another topic to read about.
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