With the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal that has made some people decide to leave Facebook, now is a perfect time for people to learn about online privacy. Data gathering is a common practice by companies, organizations, third-parties, and government to better understand their audience and who is buying their product or who may be a criminal. The 21st Century is the Information Age and data is king. This is a beginner’s guide to online privacy in the age of big data and data collection to better help you secure your privacy on the Internet.
An Introduction To Online Privacy In The Age Of Big Data
Passwords are the gatekeeper to all of your information to the different websites and services that you access. Passwords should be complex and each website that you use should have a unique password. Passwords should be a minimum of fifteen characters the characters should include letters, numbers, and symbols. You should also be sure to change your password at least every three months or quarterly. Strong passwords are the first defense to protect your online privacy because they are the key to your data.
Websites that you visit commonly ask for permission to store cookies to make it easier for your next visit. However, if you are concerned about your online privacy you should delete all of the cookies from your browser. You should also delete your search history since the website that you visited, what you clicked on, and what you viewed is gathered by websites to better target ads towards you.
The Internet has three layer: surface web, deep web, and the dark net. The surface web only makes up 1% of the entire Internet. The rest consists of the deep web and the dark net. The major search engines will track which websites you visit, at what time, and what you clicked or viewed using that search engine. While the majority of search engines do not place your privacy first they do have extensions to help with privacy, but DuckDuckGo and Startpage are the easiest search engines use that do respect your privacy.
A VPN is vital because it changes your IP Address from your actual address to a different one that your VPN users provides. There are a number of VPN providers available. Do your research before deciding on going with one. To increase your privacy when purchasing a VPN be sure to pay with a cryptocurrency or with cash instead of with a credit card that has your information.
Facebook is the king of social media with more than a billion users. There are other social media platforms too. The rule of do not talk to strangers applies here since you do not know who is gathering your personal data that you have on your social media profile. For this reason, do not use any actual data that can be traced back to you (city, address, email, phone, etc). For your social media on your mobile devices, check your permission and turn off the location if you ever post photos. You are able to control your permissions within your app because social media does not need access to your contacts, photos, location, etc. If you do post a picture on social media it is important that you turn off the location because it is saved by social media or someone with the knowledge can view where the picture was taken and learn your address and other things about you from the picture. For any other applications that you use on your mobile device delete the ones that you don’t use or change the permissions to give you more privacy. The same rules on your mobile device apply to your computer. Take off any apps or programs that you don’t use, disable location, and use a VPN. You are able to control your privacy. Knowledge is power. Learn the steps to improve your privacy online.
These are the first steps to increasing your personal privacy online. Take control of your privacy by applying these basic steps today. Regardless of how the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal turns out; organization, governments, and marketers are going to continue to gather your private data. Secure yourself on the Internet and make it more difficult for your data to be gathered by the range of interested parties who want to learn about you. For those who want to learn how to increase their privacy even more, there will be a follow up article on intermediate privacy for how you can increase your privacy online beyond the beginner level. Stay secure singles and readers who want to better secure their privacy online!