5 Tips for protecting your online privacy

5 Tips for protecting your online privacy

Between government-sponsored facial recognition technologies and social media data mining, maintaining privacy is an uphill battle. However, most people aren’t nearly proactive enough.

From mobile phones that aren’t PIN protected to social media posts jam-packed with personal details (that publicly display answers to all your password recovery security questions), there are plenty of opportunities to protect yourself.

Here are five top tips for making sure you don’t end up surrendering your soul to advertisers and cyberattackers:

#1. Use a virtual private network

Smartphones and cloud technology have kicked everyone’s mobility and productivity into overdrive. In the business world that also meant hefty reductions in operational expenses. The problem is when businesses lose control over when, where, and how their data is accessed.

Regardless of whether you’re worried about your personal privacy or your employees’ work habits, unsecured wireless networks are a universal threat. When connected to one of these networks without protection, amateur eavesdroppers can intercept any bit of information exchanged between a mobile device and the WiFi router.

A Virtual Private Network is essentially a switch you can flip to add an extra layer of network security. It’s essential when connected to public WiFi, but we recommend using it when connected to any network outside of the office.

#2. Share less information on social media

When cybercriminals are looking for the most promising targets to exploit, social media is their first stop. To see why, let’s consider a common scenario. A criminal wants a password to one of your accounts so he tries to reset the password. The platform says he’ll first need to answer a question that only the account owner would know such as “What car did the account holder drive in high school?” Lo and behold, two months ago the account holder posted a #throwbackthursday of the day he bought his 1985 Mustang!

Social media platforms are optimized in every way to encourage you to share as much as possible but the more you share, the more you risk losing.

#3. Browse the web in private mode

Every major search engine and web browser collects personal information about its users. This includes approximate geographical location, browsing habits, device information, and more. Beyond the cybersecurity implications of being digitally LoJacked, giving the government and corporations these types of information reduces your control over your reputation, purchasing decisions, and social life.

It’s a good idea to keep even routine web searches private, which requires browsing in incognito or private mode (depending on your browser) and using search engines like duckduckgo.com.

#4. Stay alert for phishing scams

Social engineering attacks are on the rise, particularly those which are tailored to target specific individuals. They’re almost always based on personalized communications that exploit trust. When we tell clients this they often chuckle and say something like “I know I’m not supposed to respond to the Nigerian prince messages,” but these campaigns are far more advanced.

Criminals will often take the time to learn about your friends, family, and employer to craft convincing emails and social media messages. If you receive a request from anyone for money or sensitive information, delete the message and reach out to that person via a verified channel.

#5. Lock down your mobile devices

Mobile devices have made us more exposed to cybersecurity risks than ever before. But despite increasing risks, we have simultaneously increased how much risky information we store on our phones.

Always PIN-protect your phone, secure every account with multifactor authentication, and enable remote data wiping. Finally, be mindful about which permissions you give to any new apps you download and install.

LANSolutions provides strategic managed IT services to businesses in San Diego, Orange County, and Hawaii. Call us today to start getting the support you need.