Nowadays, connecting to the internet is a daily activity for practically everyone. We go online for work, leisure, handling various payments, and communicating with friends or family. The world is interconnected like never before; while that’s mostly a positive thing, there are also some downsides.
For starters, our favorite web-browsing devices can track our every move both online and offline. Meanwhile, advertising companies track this data and craft personalized ads that show up everywhere. And this is just one example showing the lack of protection for our online identities.
Thankfully, it’s easy to increase your digital protection measures with a handful of tools, tips, and tricks. We’ll introduce you to the most effective ones in this article.
Why it’s essential to protect your online identity
While time spent online greatly varies between people, it’s practically impossible to find someone who doesn’t use the internet. The same can be said about internet-capable devices like computers and smartphones. Plus, even minimal internet usage can negatively impact your online identity if you’re not careful.
For example, mobile phones have GPS capabilities and can potentially track your every move even if you’re not actively using the device. Meanwhile, the apps you’ve installed can extrapolate a fair amount of information about you based on your habits and patterns.
Desktop computers aren’t as dangerous because they’re stationary. However, your approximate home location and online leisure activities remain exposed to excess tracking by advertisers.
Unsurprisingly, that’s an oversimplification of the issues regarding online identity. The details are much more complicated and require in-depth analysis. If you’re curious about the nitty gritty, visit the Cool Tech Zone website to learn more about cybersecurity, the latest data breaches, and how to protect yourself while surfing the web. Or read on to get an introduction to the best tools for the job.
Recommended tools for securing your online identity
Increasing your security measures online involves a combination of effective tools and a bit of caution. Let’s start with the security software that provides the most bang for your buck.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) services are excellent all-in-one digital protection packages. In short, they reroute your web traffic through remote encrypted servers. This maneuver masks your actual whereabouts and makes it appear you’re connecting from the server’s location. Additionally, encryption makes your web-browsing activities completely unreadable to unauthorized onlookers.
The best VPNs on the market include countless other perks. For example, you’ll find services with ad-blocking capabilities, online tracker removal, and antivirus protection. However, most people use VPNs to change virtual locations and unlock exclusive foreign content. This can include movies, TV shows, and other media restricted in your region.
It’s important to note that the best possible results are achievable through paid providers. Such options are reliable and have the necessary resources to maintain a high-quality service. Conversely, free VPNs can backfire and undermine your online security efforts.
Netizens need accounts for almost every website they visit. Unsurprisingly, they may reuse passwords because it’s challenging to think of and remember unique passcodes for each online service. However, this is a terrible practice regarding online security and will cause havoc if you’re ever the victim of a data leak.
Many will point out that writing down all your passwords in one place isn’t a good idea. At the very least, carrying around a notepad or a digital file everywhere you go is inconvenient.
A secure and reliable password manager is the perfect solution to this problem. It’s protected with top-of-the-line encryption, available online, and inaccessible without a master password. You can also use the same service to store different types of critical information and securely share it with others.
You’ll need separate antivirus software if your VPN service doesn’t provide such functionality. It’s essential if you’re a fan of downloading executable files from questionable places. However, malicious software can disguise itself as work-related PDFs and other innocent-looking files. Plus, you need the extra protection if a nefarious hacker ever finds a vulnerability in an app that’s installed on your device.
Use privacy-focused operating systems
Windows is the most widely used operating system across desktop computers, while on mobile, it’s Android. Although these systems are user-friendly, they’re not ideal regarding online privacy. It’s also vital to pay attention to the manufacturer of your device. For example, anonymity enthusiasts should avoid China-based companies like Huawei or Xiaomi.
Some may argue that Apple products are an excellent alternative if you’re concerned about privacy. However, the real winning move is switching to Linux-based operating systems. This move can be challenging if you’re not tech-savvy, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Anonymity-focused browsers and search engines
Once again, the options you’re most familiar with are likely not the best if you wish to secure your online identity. A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything related to Google. Yes, that means the search engine, the browser, and even the operating system if you’re unafraid of drastic changes.
Mozilla Firefox is a solid web browser alternative with a good reputation and excellent customization options. Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo is a well-renowned search engine for minimizing tracking.
Recommended actions for improving online security
Now for a quick-fire round of actionable tips for keeping your online identity safe.
- Ensure your security tools are enabled. Having a VPN or antivirus program installed on your device isn’t enough. Double-check to see if they’re running correctly.
- Clear your browser’s cache, cookies, and history. Web browsers store a good chunk of information about your browsing habits. Clear that data as often as possible to minimize tracking by the websites you visit.
- Use anonymity-focused browser tabs. Many browsers offer anonymity-centered tabs (commonly called Incognito Mode) that are a more convenient way of browsing privately without needing to wipe out the history manually.
- Enable ad-blocking. You might have second thoughts about this suggestion because ad revenue enables us to enjoy the internet for free. However, they’re a popular attack vector and a nuisance to boot. Even the FBI suggests ad-blocking as a security precaution.
- Avoid using personal information online. An obvious yet critical tip is to avoid sharing personal details on the internet unless absolutely necessary. That means keeping your name, home address, phone number, and email address under lock and key.
- Minimize app usage. Nowadays, every online service has an accompanying mobile app. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you should verify these apps are not overstepping their bounds by asking for unnecessary permissions. Also, delete them as soon as they’re no longer needed.
Keeping your online identity secure is just one of the many benefits good cybersecurity practices can achieve. We’ve introduced you to the very basics of this topic, but there’s much more ground to cover if you’re itching to learn more. Once again, we recommend Cool Tech Zone as your go-to place for staying informed about the many digital security and privacy issues.