Everything single action you take online is leaving traces that can trace back to you. This greatly increases the risk of your identity being stolen or someone getting access to your personal data. You should take action to protect your privacy online now! I will lay out some great steps you can take to protect yourself online so that your activities do not track back to you. In this article, I will show you 5 easy things you can do for securing your activity online.
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Up-to-date backups are not tied directly to protecting your privacy online but are a major priority everyone should have. If you keep all your data on your computer and do not have backups, what happens when your computer crashes? You’re completely out of luck in recovering most, if not all, of your data. Having backups on an external hard drive is a better option, but still not good enough. What if your house is destroyed by a natural disaster or a house fire? Both your computer and external hard drive could be destroyed at the same time. You would still lose all your memories and important data.
The best thing to do is have encrypted online backups in addition to an encrypted external hard drive. The reason is that you can restore from an external hard drive much quicker than from online backups. Just make sure the external hard drive is encrypted in case it is accidentally lost or stolen. This means the drive cannot be read by anyone that doesn’t have the passcode to decrypt the drive. However, having encrypted online backups will come in handy in case something were to happen to your place of residence.
My favorite online backup solutions include Acronis True Image and Crashplan For Small Business by Code42 Software.
I like Acronis True Image because it allows for both encrypted online backups as well as creating disk images that capture the entire state of your hard drive as a snapshot. These disk images can also be used to start up your computer if your main hard drive fails. This allows you to keep on using your computer until you can get your main hard drive replaced or replace your computer. The limitation for Acronis True Image is that you have limited online storage space. You can upgrade your storage for an additional fee, but they do not provide unlimited online storage.
Crashplan for Small Business is another great online backup solution. They provide 256-bit AES encryption for your backups and unlimited storage. You can set the backup frequency for multiple backup time frames. This allows for greater control of the granularity of backups than Acronis True Image. Crashplan does not offer a disk image backup solution like Acronis True Image does, however. You can still backup to both online and external hard drives (or even another computer), but you cannot boot your system from these backups.
Having online backups and/or backups on an external hard drive can also help protect you from ransomware attacks. If you somehow get infected with ransomware, and your computer gets encrypted and the attackers demand a ransom, you can wipe your whole computer and restore it from backup.
Antivirus and Anti-malware Software
Norton 360 is one of the highest-rated and most well-known antivirus software available. It is a well-respected antivirus that has a great track record among all the different antivirus. You also get a limited amount of online backup storage, VPN (which I discuss below), and also credit monitoring. If you select the package with LifeLock, you can also get protection in case your identity is still stolen. They will cover legal fees up to $1 million to fix it and get your identity back. Depending on the package you select, you can get UP TO the following benefits:
- Up to $1M in Stolen Funds Reimbursement
- Up to $1M in Personal Expense Compensation
- Up to $1M in Coverage for Lawyers & Experts
Antivirus can only scan for viruses that have already been detected and have a signature that can be scanned for. This does not include malware that can dynamically change its signature constantly or new viruses that do not have a virus signature yet. That is why something such as Malwarebytes can look even deeper in your system and in ways antivirus cannot. It is not a replacement for antivirus but instead complements your antivirus software. The website says it can do both, but combining both Malwarebytes and Norton360 allows for additional protection. Malwarebytes can also help protect you from ransomware as stated in the previous section.
Using a VPN
Nowadays, almost everyone uses Wi-Fi almost constantly. Home, coffee shops, work, doctors’ offices, ISPs; almost everywhere has a Wi-Fi connection you can connect to, many of which are unencrypted open Wi-Fi networks. Using these Wi-Fi hot spots is one of the worst spots to have your identity stolen. When using these networks, any activities such as logging into your bank’s website or social network accounts, or doing sensitive business work, are all very dangerous. This is because all the data you send over that network is unencrypted and can be read by anyone.
One of the best ways to protect your privacy online is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. VPNs encrypt your network traffic before leaving your device. You should connect to your VPN each time you want to connect to an open Wi-Fi network. You should not need to connect via VPN for networks that require a password which means the traffic is encrypted. However, any open networks that you can connect to without a password need a VPN to protect yourself.
There are many VPN services out there that you can use, however, some are more secure and privacy-conscious than others. We want the most privacy and security-oriented VPNs we can use. The ones that don’t keep log records and have many different endpoints you can choose to connect to. We also want a VPN that doesn’t slow down our browsing experience much more than normal.
If you select to purchase Norton 360 as I mentioned above, it includes VPN software in the package that fills this need. If not, there are other great options out there. My favorites are NordVPN and ProtonVPN. They are great options that fulfill the above requirements and have affordable plans. If you connect to open Wi-Fi on a consistent basis, this is a must-have to protect your privacy, identity, and protect from tracking.
A majority of web pages nowadays have cookies that can track your viewing history and report back to major corporations that wish to sell advertisements targeted to you based on your web activity. These companies that collect much of this data are companies like Facebook and Google.
Ghostery will block a majority of the known trackers from Google, Facebook, and many more companies just by selecting all the trackers when setting it up after installing. However, it can make some sites or certain parts of some sites not work. This can include some forms not submitting properly, sections of a webpage not loading, and a few other quirks. So sometimes, if you are comfortable pausing Ghostery to allow the webpage to function properly, you can pause it, then try the action again and resume blocking. You can also choose to allow certain properties to run on certain websites or all websites if you desire. I have found I need to do that with certain websites I visit that all include one of the certain properties.
AdBlock Plus is a great extension that makes surfing the web much more enjoyable as it removes a majority of all ads from websites you visit. This makes for a much cleaner experience when surfing webpages as you do not see ads on the webpages you visit so you can focus on the content you want to see.
As you can see, there are many ways to protect your privacy online when it comes to the internet. There are many dangers out there lurking, and the sooner you start protecting yourself the better! You won’t regret it!