A user’s online privacy is attacked on a variety of fronts: through email, web pages, illicit downloads, unscrupulous marketers, nosy co-workers and more. It takes great care and due diligence to avoid having one’s online privacy compromised by prying eyes and other undesirables. The following are a few tips on how to do just that:
Delete your memory cache – It can be quite embarrassing when users discover their family members and work colleagues have been snooping around their computer while they are away. Imagine a situation where a user’s wife or girlfriend starts typing in a search query, only to see illicit pornographic queries pop up as a result of the web browser’s auto-complete function. A similar experience can occur should they decide to review the web browser’s viewing history. The best way to avoid this awkward situation is to clear the web browser’s viewing history and cache after every browsing session.
Encrypt private information – Nowadays practically every email program supports encryption. Privacy advocates should make ample use of encryption by storing emails, online forms and other personal data in an encrypted form. Doing so will prevent other users from being able to access these sensitive items without prior authorization.
Use a second email account - Set up a second email account separate from that used for work and school. Schools and employers are allowed to monitor their users’ email accounts. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should be using an academic or business email account for their own personal affairs when so many other email account options, both free and paid, are available. Unless users want their bosses and school teachers to know everything they do in their private lives, a second email account is essential.
Use a third email account – It is difficult to use the Internet these days without having to submit your email address to countless numbers of popular websites. Facebook, Twitter and many other social networking sites require an email address just to establish an account, with this email address often being made public or at least semi-public to friends within one’s own network. Posting on blogs often requires an email address, too. Use a third email account strictly for one’s banking and other sensitive activities to reduce the amount of exposure that email address has to hackers and criminals who may have easier access to the second email account address. Banks, government sites and e-commerce sites like eBay and PayPal are more likely to have greater security measures than the average user’s blog. While a user’s second “blogging and chatting” email address may get compromised, all they lose out on is chat history and perhaps a ruined Facebook wall. This is much less devastating that losing one’s bank balance.
Use a VPN service A Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds a whole extra level of privacy to one’s online surfing habits. VPNs create a secure tunnel through which a user’s Internet activities travel safely and securely in an encrypted fashion. Whereas an unprotected connection is subject to hackers and criminals sniffing the contents of one’s transmissions, a VPN prevents such activities from occurring. This is especially the case when using public wi-fi connections such as those offered in schools, airports and coffee shops. Most users don’t have the networking hardware or know-how available to do this themselves, which is why a VPN service comes in handy. For a low monthly fee, a VPN service provides online privacy like no other options can.
Philip Novak is a fascinating author and currently completing his studies in Information Security. He is a regular contributor for a premium VPN service provider and a top-class tech blog in between his studies.