The websites you visit on a daily basis have innumerable data you’ve never heard of purchase, sell, and sharing your personal information.
Unfortunately, removing all traces of personal information from websites is practically impossible. However, there are numerous actions you can take to lessen your digital footprint and make it more challenging for others to make off of your personal information, especially those businesses that don’t provide any sort of convenience in exchange and merely collect your data for targeted advertising. Here, in this article, we are sharing a few tips with the help of which you can keep your personal data safe.
Avoid using data brokers and people-search websites
Do a quick online search for your name. You might need to give a middle name or the place where you’ve lived depending on how common your name is.
Welcome to the world of intrusive websites that do intrusive persons searches and act as data brokers to sell personal data. Your name, present and previous addresses, date of birth, information about your family, phone numbers, email address, and a variety of other private data points are frequently published on these sites.
Many websites that conduct people searches have an opt-out page, while others require an email request. Keep track of the websites you’ve emailed, and if required, follow up with a more direct email. Use a disposable email address for any correspondence with these businesses.
Close any unused or inactive online accounts
When you haven’t logged into old online accounts for years or even decades, it’s simple to forget about them. Sadly, it frequently happens that data is provided by a user for one purpose and exploited by a business for a different one.
Due to the ongoing consolidation of internet businesses, user data is frequently transferred from one business to another.
However, it’s not always simple to delete your account. In reality, a lot of websites make it challenging by tricking you into keeping your account open or giving you the idea that it has been terminated or removed by using sneaky techniques. If you need assistance, use this handy list of popular websites and the accompanying instructions on how to close your account to refresh your memory of any accounts you may have forgotten.
Improve social media account privacy
Utilizing social media privacy settings is essential for minimising your online data trail. It is challenging to maintain privacy on most platforms due to social media companies frequently changing these settings and hiding them deep within menus. This is because targeted advertising is the primary source of revenue for all social media platforms.
In order to encourage more interactions, feed algorithms, and classify more of your tastes and behaviours into a marketing profile, it is in their best interest for your online account to be as accessible as possible.
Developing the habit of deleting outdated social media posts is also a good idea. Sure, a poor photograph from five years ago or images from a wild night out can haunt you. But more crucially, situations that ought to be transitory are frequently made permanent by social media posts. You won’t miss your tweets from 2015 or your Facebook postings from 2013 once they’re gone.
Take personal data out of Google
The biggest data aggregator on the internet is Google. Therefore, you should become familiar with Google’s activity controls, which allow you to regulate your browser and app activity, YouTube history, and ad personalisation.
Use the browser and search engine privacy settings. Recently, Mozilla’s Firefox started banning third-party cookies by default, which are cookies that monitor your online activities. The same is true of Apple’s Safari, and Google’s Chrome has plans to start outlawing third-party cookies in 2024. Other browsers, like Brave, were created from the ground up with privacy in mind.
You can apply a variety of privacy settings and use browser extensions to increase security regardless of the browser you use. Most online browsers enable you set cookies to automatically expire after each session, with some exceptions made for websites where you want to keep your session-to-session login information.
VPNs are not fool proof
Unfortunately, fingerprinting, which monitors you without cookies by examining your device’s numerous settings, can still exploit even the most secure browsers. Here you may evaluate your browser’s overall security and learn more about browser fingerprinting.
Despite these tools and techniques, keep in mind that your internet service provider (ISP) and employer can always view whatever you do online if they so choose. Due to the fact that many of these tips encourage using a VPN, this is not necessarily the best option for privacy since many of these providers maintain logs of user behaviour.
You simply have to believe the VPN provider when they say they won’t store logs and hope they’ll uphold strict security standards because you can’t prove any of those things. The TOR browser itself cannot provide complete privacy. Finally, there is no such thing as online anonymity.
Keep a tab on permission access
Whether or not you use a certain app on your phone, it might still leak data and track your movements. Go through your phone for a moment and remove any apps you don’t use very often. Examine the permissions for the apps you plan to maintain and decide if they are appropriate.
Any programme you download generally exposes you to a variety of privacy risks. Regrettably, online businesses frequently make it tough to avoid apps. For instance, Facebook makes it challenging to use its intrusive Messenger software to send messages on a mobile device. Without the Messenger app, you must check the request desktop site option in your mobile browser’s settings before using the Facebook website to access messages, just as you would on a laptop.
When not required, turn off location services on your phone. If you need to use location-based apps, turning it on just takes a few seconds. Turning off Bluetooth when not in use is another smart move. However, even if location tracking is disabled, Google and other tech corporations might still be able to find your device despite your best attempts. By figuring out when it’s close to other devices or bluetooth beacons, this is accomplished.
Remember your smart devices
We could be unaware of some of the new privacy risks as smart speakers and televisions become more commonplace in our lives. For instance, automatic content recognition (ACR) is frequently used by smart TVs to track what you watch and serve you with relevant adverts. Review your TV’s settings to limit ACR if this worries you.
The public has become more aware of how little privacy smart speakers genuinely provide over the past year. Security Research Labs’ analysis revealed how easy they may be compromised and utilised for listening in. Furthermore, every significant manufacturer has acknowledged that contractors listen to recordings.
Visit this page to access Amazon Alexa’s privacy controls. Open the Account tab in the Google Home app on your smartphone, then choose My Activity. You can choose to delete all recordings from that point on and configure future recordings to remove themselves automatically. The recordings made by Siri cannot be deleted, according to Apple. When not in use, you may finally quiet your smart speaker.