You Are Being Tracked Online & Here’s a 6-Step Guide to Protect You.

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( Before you go to bed today, know one thing that you are being tracked by many people and advertisers from around the world. They can track your location, read your messages that you sent to your loved ones, and sneak into your laptop and smartphone to access your data. If you want to protect your personal information and data, take these six steps to safeguard your privacy online.

1. Check how much information you’re giving away

On your laptop, smartphone and tablets, look for permissions you have granted to numerous applications. Don’t forget to include your social media accounts because most of the web applications need access to your Facebook, Twitter and Google profiles. Most of the times, applications ask for permissions which are not at all relevant to their nature of work. Identify such apps and restrict their access to your devices, personal information, files and confidential data.

2. Use a web browser that doesn’t track you

Many popular web browsers and search engines track your activities online. They want to collect information about what you surf on the internet, what you buy, where you go and what kind of products you purchase and check online. These trackers come from Google, Facebook, and many other leading tech companies.

The best way to avoid this snooping is by downloading a web browser or search engine that doesn’t track you. Search engines like DuckDuckGo are really helpful in keeping your search activities private and web browsers like TOR can keep you anonymous on the web.

3. Set limits for your smart home gadgets

Smart speakers, cameras, music players, and appliances are now connected to the internet and posing risks to data privacy. If you want to stay safe and protected, simply disable the features that invite problems. For example, auto call answering feature on devices like Amazon Echo sounds so convenient but if someone calls your number and you don’t get notified, they can listen to the conversation happening in your room.

Some devices even have cameras, and you would not want to record or live stream everything happening in the room. Turn off microphones, block incoming audio and video calls, delete the search data, and disable features that allow voice commands to make purchases or ask for personal details.

4. Test drive apps

Before you start relying on an app, it’s better if you test them before sharing your personal information. For example, you’re downloading an app from the application store and it is asking you to create an account. Before you go ahead and start signing up for such new apps, simply try to use their features first. Most of the applications allow users to skip the sign-up process and use the app.

If you feel the urge to use the app, simply create a dummy account with no personal details and use that particular account for such signups. If available, use Google’s Instant Apps feature that allows you to test applications before you download them.

5. Use common sense to protect your online reputation

One simplest way to keep your online reputation secure and blot free is by not visiting the parts of the web you feel embarrassed to show your partner, colleagues, and friends. If you want to know how much information internet has about you, simply search your name on search engines.

On search engines, perform a search query with your name using double quotation marks, for example, “John Smith” and check what results appear. Also, check the images section to know how many of your photos are available to the public. If you find search results you don’t want to see, connect with that particular website and ask for the removal of the content you don’t want to see.

6. Use encryption

Always use apps and email services that encrypt your communication. Whether it is a chat application or an email service, to be sure that nobody is reading your chat messages and emails, don’t use any application that fails to provide end-to-end encryption.

Encryption ensures that your messages and emails are going encrypted and can be decrypted only when they arrive their final destination. For smartphones and laptops also there are encryption services available which you can use to protect your data. If you are using any third-party password manager, don’t rely on them blindly.

Prevention is better than cure. Many people like you get attacked by cybercriminals and end up losing their valuable data and personal information. Don’t be one of them and follow the above-mentioned steps to protect yourself online.

Staff Writer; Corey Shaw

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