Digital privacy is a terminology used in terms of online security. It is the technique of protecting your digital identity by protecting your personal and sensitive information. It is very easy for someone to find information about you on the internet. The information you share on the internet may fall into the wrong hands. With the increased threat of cyber-attacks, it is very important to ensure digital privacy otherwise, you may become a victim of cybercrime.
How and Where the data is collected?
Whenever you go online, be it for personal usage or professional usage, your each and every information is collected. This is your digital footprint. Your internet usage habits are continuously tracked. This data is stored on your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.
What data is collected?
The data which is collected is of two types:
1. Data shared by you
Whenever you register on a website, you provide some of your personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, email, phone number, etc. This information is available online and accessible to everyone. You register on several websites for various reasons and are not aware how much information you are making available day by day.
2. Data taken without your knowledge
This data is taken from your computer or browsing history. It includes data such as your IP address, location, and even your hobbies & financial status by tracking your browsing history. According to a study by Pew Research Center, almost half of the internet users are worried about cyber security identity theft.
How is data being used?
Websites need some way to ensure if you are the same person visiting the site. So for this, they set ‘cookies’ which is a small text file in your web browser to link the information. The websites use the cookies to retrieve your information when you visit them again.
Cookies can track your online activity such as information you put in forms, etc. You may not find the impact of these, but several companies are using this broken information of you to collaborate a bigger picture of you. They use this information to make interpretations about your behaviour, habits, etc.
What can you do to protect yourself?
To protect yourself from this and ensuring digital privacy, follow the given security tips:
1. Modify your digital identity
Try to use different email addresses, web browsers, credit cards, and even different devices (if possible) for your different web activities. This way it becomes difficult to track your data.
2. Review your privacy settings regularly
The default privacy settings of your apps and web browsers might not be very secure. They might be set to sharing your personal data without your permission. Check your privacy settings to ensure your data is safe and not shared anonymously.
3. Check your browser’s cookies
You might not be aware how many cookies have been set by the websites on your web browser. Regularly check your cookies and delete if required. Block third party cookies by using plug-ins if it is not available in your web browser.
The various apps, software, and websites you use might be having privacy policies. It is quite a tough job to read the long text of the privacy policies which you have to agree upon, but please take a moment to read it as it is worth it. Know how your information is used.
5. Install software updates
It is very important to keep your software and apps updated as it is a very common method of hackers to exploit common bugs in the apps installed on your device.
6. Use web browsers that don’t track you
There are some web browsers available such as DuckDuckGo, Disconnect, etc. which don’t track your online activity. Use them, if possible.
7. Avoid signing in your web browser
If possible, do not sign into your web browser. This way browsers cannot track you.
8. Use encryption
You can eliminate your chances of getting yourself tracked by using encrypted messaging communications.
9. Never use strange devices
Do not use computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. which are strange to you to log into your personal accounts as it can lead to getting your passwords stolen and can eventually lead to identity theft.
10. Use “Incognito” mode of your web browser
A mode called “incognito” mode or “private browsing” is available in your web browser. Use this mode to avoid leaving traces of your information on your device.
To protect your identity you have to be shrewd about the information you share online. Limit sharing of your personal data to limit the data which is monitored as it is the first step in protecting your identity.
There’s no one-click solution to protect your personal data. You need to continuously educate yourself about this. Irrespective of what tools you use, try to change your online habits for the better. It might be a little inconvenient at first, but it’s worth saving your identity.