Our Wired World

How Safe Is Your Online Privacy?

As sites vie for your attention, and dollars, you still have ways to control and  protect your information

The internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, tour increasing dependence on the internet raises new privacy concerns. Marc Porcar, internet expert and CEO of QR Code Generator, has listed the best ways to protect your privacy online.

Register your information on websites and apps sparingly

There is an app or website for everything these days, and it may be tempting to sign up to automate every aspect of your life. However, it is crucial to take the time to ascertain the safety of the websites you are visiting. Two easy ways to check if a website is secure are outlined below:

A secure URL should always begin with “https” instead of “http.” The addition of the “s” in “https” signifies that the site is utilizing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. This certificate ensures that all communication and data transmitted between your browser and the website’s server is encrypted.

Look for a lock icon located near your browser’s URL field. The lock symbol and a URL starting with “https” indicate that the connection between your web browser and the website server is encrypted. This encryption prevents unauthorized individuals from eavesdropping or intercepting your communication.

Only provide your email address or any personal or payment details on websites with these two important elements.

Manage your cookies

All websites track user activities through cookies. They do so to save your preferences and information and obtain analytics on your website visit, including the pages you viewed and the duration of your visit, in order to display personalized ads based on your browsing history or location.

When a website tracks your activity, it is referred to as first-party tracking. If a website allows another company to track your activity, it is known as third-party tracking. Third-party tracking allows advertisers to display targeted advertisements to users based on their interests and online behavior. For instance, if you visit a website about healthy eating, you might receive ads for meal prep services when you visit other websites.

If you don’t want to be tracked online and receive personalized ads, the following tips will help.

  • Delete your history – To avoid seeing ads tailored to your past online behavior, consider deleting cookies and clearing your browsing and search history. Additionally, on your mobile device, delete or reset any identifiers used to track your activity.
  • Adjust your privacy settings – Your browser’s privacy settings allow you to control the information that websites collect about you. For instance, you can prevent websites from accessing your browsing history or sharing your location. The level of protection offered varies depending on the browser you are using. Some browsers provide a private browsing mode that automatically deletes your browsing history once your session ends, although this does not prevent websites from tracking your online activity. Also, some browser extensions or plug-ins offer additional privacy controls. If you are considering using one of these extensions, read reviews from reputable sources to understand the options they provide.
To avoid seeing ads tailored to your past online behavior, consider deleting cookies and clearing your browsing and search history. Additionally, on your mobile device, delete or reset any identifiers used to track your activity...

Furthermore, your browser’s privacy settings allow you to decide whether to allow or block personalized ads based on your browsing history. Your phone also has a setting that enables you to opt out of personalized ads from the company that developed the operating system, such as Apple or Google. This setting can typically be found in the “advertising” section of your phone’s privacy settings. While you will still see ads, they will not be personalized based on your browsing history.

If you have an internet-connected TV or streaming device, review the privacy settings and permissions on those, too.

Social media and other apps may also track your online activity. Go to your account settings to see how they use your information and adjust your settings to match your preferences.

Some apps may ask for access to information from your device, like your location, your contacts, or your photos. Go to the privacy settings on your smartphone to see what information they can access from your device. Consider turning off unnecessary permissions or deleting apps that request permissions they don’t need to function.

  • Consider using an ad blocker – Ad blockers keep ads from appearing on your browser. They work by filtering specific content according to rules set by the program or the user. Some ad blockers let you block trackers from gathering data on you. But ad blockers don’t necessarily block all ads or tracking. That’s because some show ads from advertisers that meet specific criteria set by the company. Ad blockers also don’t detect or block viruses or malware.

There are many ad blockers available online. If you’re considering one, read reviews from reputable sources to learn about their features and decide which ad blocker is best for you.

  • Review website cookie notices – When you visit some websites, you may see a notice about how the website uses cookies. The notice may let you choose what type of cookies to allow. Those choices often include only cookies necessary for the site to function or allowing the site to use cookies for advertising and other purposes. Choose the option that best fits your preferences.

Install security or antivirus software programs and a VPN on your computer

Cybersecurity or antivirus software programs also prevent spyware and other viruses that may harm your computer. These programs allow you to set up regular virus checks and deep system scans.

A VPN hides users’ internet activity from snoops and spoofs your location. This protects your privacy by ensuring hackers can’t detect your location. You can install a VPN on your router to spoof the location on all connected devices.

Other precautionary measures to protect your privacy online include using strong, unique passwords for all online accounts to prevent unauthorized access and enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.

 

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