The internet has connected all of us in so many ways. Nowadays, with just an internet connection and a few clicks, you’ll be able to reach out and connect with just about anyone. Social media allows us to share intimate details of our lives with our loved ones. Online banking allows us to transfer funds easily and immediately with minimal fuss while online shopping has made instant gratification a part of our life.
As amazing as all of this may sound, the freedom offered by the internet has a much darker side. In today’s world, information and big data have become the new currency. Social media and online advertisers gather information on our preferences, spending habits and interests for their own nefarious purposes. As we’ve seen from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, information gathered on social media can then be used in order to influence your beliefs and ideals.
Meanwhile, privacy breaches and compromised data protection have shown us that governments have been using smart devices in order to gather information on their citizens, all in the name of national security.
With all of that in mind, it can clearly be seen that data privacy is a serious issue in today’s world. How are we able to stay safe in a time where our privacy is taken for granted and personal information has become a commodity?
Fortunately, there are thousands of other like-minded individuals who are just as concerned. In this article, we take a look at how you can keep your data safe on the information superhighway.
- Always be aware of what you’re sharing online
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat whilst being one of the greatest innovations of the information age have warped our perceptions of privacy. Just thirty years ago, many of us would be hesitant to share our personal information so readily with complete strangers.
Nowadays, we easily share pictures of ourselves or friends and family whether at work or play. This makes it exceedingly easy for a creeper to discreetly gather personal information that can then be used to intimidate or harm you.
Before posting anything on social media, always ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with a complete stranger having access to such information. Whether it’s pictures from your last beach holiday or a rant about your boss, sometimes things are just better left unsaid.
- Never use public Wi-Fi for sensitive information
While having access to free Wi-Fi is well and good, you would do well to remember that more often than not, there’ll always be somebody watching. Being widely available and easily hacked, public Wi-Fi is a favorite haunt for thieves and hackers looking to get their hands on your personal and financial information. So the next time you’re at the airport or coffee shop enjoying the free Wi-Fi, stick to watching YouTube videos and surfing the web.
- Protect your messages
Whether you’re discussing business matters or chatting with your significant other, data privacy should always be at the back of your mind. WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messenger app that offers data encryption. However, it should also be noted that WhatsApp while free is also owned by Facebook.
Hence it you’re looking to keep those chats private; you may want to consider other messenger apps. Given the rising concerns about data privacy, it’s quite likely that we’ll be seeing an influx of encrypted messenger apps in the near future.
- Keep your web surfing private
If you’ve been paying attention, chances are you’ve likely heard about VPNs or virtual private networks. In a nutshell, VPNs allow a user to mask their IP address from anyone who may be watching. This is done by connecting your PC to a server located in another country thus masking your original location.
Whether you’re looking to bypass geographic restrictions or simply trying to mask your location, VPNs are one of the best ways of protecting your privacy.
- Be on the alert for scam artists
When something sounds too good to be true, chances are it’s not. When you’ve been contacted by a Nigerian prince looking to share his riches or by somebody claiming that you’ve won a prize in a contest you didn’t enter, there is no doubt that you’re being targeted by a scammer. You can still take part in gambling websites that promote safe sports betting, like BetAmerica NBA odds but avoid the ones who do not have an SSL certificate.
Always remember that banks and government authorities never conduct business over the phone or the internet. These scams use a combination of social engineering and deceit to trick victims into handing over information or even money.
If you’ve been contacted by an unknown person or persons, it’s always best to ignore and block them.
The internet can be a dangerous place for the unprepared. However, by taking the appropriate measures and getting yourself educated, protecting your data and privacy becomes a cinch.
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