7 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

Maintaining your privacy online isn’t an easy feat in the age of social media, email, and mobile devices. There are many ways your information can be compromised online and there is an endless list of precautions you can take. While taking every precaution can be difficult there are a few ways you can protect your privacy online.


  1. Avoid location stamping your social media posts and disable location services

Allowing Facebook and other social media sites to location stamp your posts exposes where you are and when. Similarly, mobile apps that use location services allow your location to be tracked. Disabling location services altogether can render some of your favourite apps useless, but there is a middle ground. You can disable location services and enable them when you need to use the app. Many apps will prompt you to enable location services if you’re trying to do something that requires them. Just remember to disable them again when you’re done.


  1. Disable third-party cookies on your browser

Cookies are pieces of code placed on your hard drive by a website that you visit. These cookies help the website recognize you when you return. While cookies are a necessary evil and having them disabled entirely limits your online experience, you should disable third-party cookies to protect your privacy.


This might seem confusing and you might be wondering what makes one type of cookie better than another. Let me explain. A first-party cookie is one that helps make your online experience a little easier. For example, when you’re logged into an account like Twitter, a cookie maintains your session allowing you to stay logged in. By contrast, a third-party cookie is doesn’t make your life easier but is often intended to track your online activities.

  1. Be selective about browser extensions and plug-ins and read the fine print

Again, browser extensions and plug-ins can give you a richer browsing experience. That being said, there are a lot of extensions and plug-ins out there that track your browsing habits. To help protect yourself make sure you only enable extensions and plug-ins that you absolutely need and always read the fine print to find out how they’re collecting and using your browsing information.


  1. Understand what kind of information your mobile apps collect and transmit

Mobile apps are also major culprits when it comes to collecting your personal information and information about how you use your device. Be sure to read all app information and understand how it’s collecting and using your information. As I mentioned before, be careful about which apps can use your location services.


  1. Follow basic email security rules

By this day and age, everyone should know that some emails are malicious. For example, a popular scam is to send an email that looks like it came from a legitimate source, like your bank for example, and ask you to verify your account details by clicking a link and providing personal information such as a password. To protect yourself exercise caution when opening suspicious emails, clicking on links within emails, or downloading attachments.


  1. Ensure shopping sites are secure

When you’re shopping online you provide a lot of information, such as credit card details, to the seller. To protect this information ensure that the site you’re shopping from is secure and uses SSL, a security protocol. You can check if this is the case by looking at the website address field on your browser. If the address starts with https and there is a padlock icon beside the address, the site is secure.

Privacy Online

  1. Use strong passwords and a password manager

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this at this point but the truth is that a lot of people still use obvious passwords like birthdays and pet’s names. Believe it or not, “password” is also a common password. Using a password like this makes you an easy target for hackers so make sure you’re using strong passwords. Strong passwords are made up of random combinations of numbers, letters, and special characters. It’s also recommended you use a different password for each account. To help you generate strong passwords and manage them, try a password manager like LastPass.

By Mike Agerbo

March 31, 2015