Protecting privacy is closely linked to our digital foot-print, which are constructed by - active and passive - processes. Let’s first understand them, in detail:
Active digital footprint:
These are the information we’ve chosen to share with the rest of the world. It includes social media profiles, online purchases, survey forms we’ve filled etc. Every single online transaction requires users to provide certain Personally Identifiable Information (PIIs).
These add up to a massive amount of personal data being offered by us, in our regular day to day activities – signing up to free online session, shopping for books, booking train and show tickets, creating profiles on dating sites and much more. We actively offer to the world, very clear answers as to who we are and what we want.
Passive digital footprint:
Digital traces are always left on the websites we visit and the search queries, we enter. Even if we use incognito mode, delete our complete browsing history, disable our cookies etc, it does not delete the data already collected on these sites, to which they may have access ad infinitum.
With our every step documented and analyzed, it’s no wonder that our passive footprint is also known as the “Digital Exhaust”.
How to Protect Online Privacy?
Keeping your privacy intact and safe is highly important. If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, it can have grave consequences – blackmailing, extortion, doxing, reputational damage, financial harm etc.
Here, are some of the simple methods to protect online privacy.
Create Long, Super crazy Unbreakable Passwords:
The password, should at-least be 15 characters long; be mix of letter, numbers and special characters. Don’t use personal identifiers like name, phone number, DoB etc as password, as they can be easily be cracked with password cracking tools like John The Ripper.
Similarly, change your passwords frequently, and don’t share it with anyone. Don’t re-use the same passwords over and over again.
Regularly Update your Anti-virus and Soft-wares:
Developers continuously fix vulnerabilities and flaws found in the older versions of the soft-wares. Therefore, enabling auto-updates to soft-wares is considered a safer cyber practice.
Always, check the name of a Wi-Fi network, before connecting to it, to avoid becoming victim of rogue hotspots, also called “evil twins”. Similarly, disable automatic connection to available Wi-Fi networks. If enabled, the device may connect automatically, without your knowledge, which can put your data at grave risk.
2-way authentication is one of the best means to protect your online information. When you log in, you’ll also need to enter a special code that the site texts to your phone. By doing so, you are notified whenever someone is trying to suspiciously login to your account. Thus can help prevent unauthorized intrusions into your accounts
HTTPS Everywhere is a plug-in for Firefox and Google Chrome that makes your browsing more secure because it prevents eaves-dropping thieves or hackers from intercepting your unencrypted internet traffic. It forces a website to connect in secure mode, by encrypting your traffic with the website you are visiting.
To prevent being victims of juice jacking attacks, you should avoid charging your phone using publically available charging points. Instead, you should carry a personal charger.
Similarly, use power only USB cables, if you need to charge using public charging point. This is because, these cables do not have the two wires necessary for data transmission and have only the wires for power transmission. Thus, they enable charge the device, but not data transfer.
Nevertheless, personal privacy may be at risk due to negligence. For example, forgetting to log-out from your accounts when using other’s devices
Therefore, be vigilant and suspicious, to keep your personal data safe.