Protecting Your Privacy in a Tech-Centric World
Staying connected through cell phones, computers, and wearable devices lets you keep in touch with family and friends and makes life easier. A downside is that all the data you share on the web can be collected and used by marketers and thieves. Be mindful of the information you share across the internet and start protecting your privacy in this tech-centric world.
Oversharing happens a lot on social media. It’s easy to turn your privacy settings on so only your friends can see your posts and personal information. What you may not know is that Facebook is always collecting information about you, even when you’re not using the app.
Facebook tracks the websites you visit and sells that information to advertisers looking to sell stuff to you. Unless you turn off location services, Facebook knows where you’ve been, too. Update your account settings to turn off personalized Facebook ads and location tracking.
Like Facebook, search engines such as Google and Bing track your every move on the web to sell information about you to advertisers. Have you ever searched for a product, and then saw an ad for that product on every website you visited? Clear your browser history and cookies to help stop personalized ads.
To stop search engines from storing information about you to begin with, browse the web anonymously by using an incognito window. You can try a private browser like DuckDuckGo that pledges not to store information about your browsing history.
Sick of telemarketers calling and texting your cell phone? Visit donotcall.gov and register your phone number for the Do Not Call registry. Being on the list won’t stop scam callers. However, using the registry can limit sales calls from legitimate businesses.
To end unwanted texts, replying with the word “stop” should put an end to the messages. You can also learn how to block your number to stop your cell phone number from showing on caller ID when you make an outbound call.
Although you may think email is private, it’s not. Hackers search emails for personal information to steal your identity. Never put personal information like your birth date or Social Security number in an email. Thieves see your email contents by hacking into your device, the server, or your network.
Video calling apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful for attending job interviews and communicating with family. The bad news is that snoops can spy on you through your computer’s webcam. To maintain your privacy, cover the camera with a piece of tape when you’re not using it.
Apps like Google Maps need your location to give you directions. Other apps don’t need to track where you are to function. Check the permission settings for all of the apps on your smartphone. Turn off location services for all apps that don’t need to know where you are.
Apps may also ask to access your contacts and photos. When you launch a new app, you can choose to accept or deny permission requests. Make sure to refuse permission for your apps to use personal information. Take an extra step and delete any apps that you don’t use.
Bad guys never stop trying to infiltrate your devices with spyware, ransomware, and viruses. Make sure that your operating system, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software are always up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to allow automatic updates.
Smart appliances, nanny cams, and routers come with default passwords. Hackers use these standard passwords to hack into your devices to steal information. Change default passwords when you install new hardware and software. Use strong passwords with symbols and numbers. Don’t use anything a thief could guess easily, such as your date of birth.
Update your app and device settings and be mindful of what kind of information you share on the internet. Taking steps to limit access to your personal information can help you protect your privacy online.