How to protect your online privacy in 2021

In April 2021, 533 million Facebook users’ personal information including full names, contact numbers, email address, locations, and birthdates were posted in a hacking forum. Days after the Facebook data breach made headlines, there was a report that 500 million LinkedIn profiles were being sold in another hacking forum.

With the occurrence of such massive data breaches, on top of account takeovers and marketers tracking your online behavior, you may think that maintaining your privacy online is a losing battle. However, there are things you can do and tools you can use to protect your privacy.

1. Install software updates immediately

When you receive a notification to install software updates, you may be tempted to ignore it or put off updating to a later time. However, these actions can put your privacy and security at risk. Software updates include patches, which close security vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited by cybercriminals, enabling them to access and steal your data. It’s best to turn on automatic updates for your operating system and apps so you won’t miss any software update.

2. Use a password manager

Time and time again, users have been told to use a unique and complex password for every account. However, given that the typical user has about 100 passwords on average, it’s simply impossible to remember that many complicated passwords. This is why people tend to create easy-to-remember but also easy-to-crack passwords and/or use the same passwords across multiple accounts.

To discourage poor password practices, password managers are essential. These are applications that store your online credentials in an encrypted form and help generate strong random passwords for all of your accounts. To open the password manager and retrieve all of your login credentials, you only need to remember and input one master password.

3. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)

Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report found that stolen or compromised credentials are still involved in most hacking-related breaches. Therefore, on top of entering your password, it’s best to add an extra step when logging in to your account. With MFA, you’ll be asked to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify your identity. These pieces of evidence may include:

  • Something you know – password, answer to a security question
  • Something you have – one-time PIN sent via an authentication app
  • Something you are – iris or fingerprint scan, face and voice recognition

If hackers don’t have access to your password and the additional authentication method, they won’t be able to log in to your account. MFA is so effective in securing accounts that Microsoft says that it blocks 99.9% of account hacks.

4. Use a virtual private network (VPN)

While your web browser’s incognito or private mode can help keep your online activity hidden from others who use the same device, it doesn’t let you search the web in complete anonymity. Your internet service provider, the websites you’ve visited, and government agencies can still track your web activity.

If you really want online privacy and anonymity, you should utilize a VPN. A VPN is an encrypted tunnel that protects your connection to the internet. Think of it like an underground tunnel that lets you get from one place to another without being seen. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted before it goes through the tunnel, thus masking your IP address and making your online actions virtually untraceable.

Need help implementing the aforementioned tips? You can turn to the IT experts of SpectrumWise. With our help, you can be assured of your company’s privacy and security. Schedule a FREE consultation today.


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