If you own email id, Facebook account, Instagram or other social media or internet account; you have an online profile, a web-based personality and during access to these accounts you leave a database that can be useful information for someone who wants to track you digitally. The data that machine tracks include your purchase history, content that you read, data usage times, internet access times, URL’s visited, device location and everything that involves you connecting to the web or using a device connected to the web. While the information that you share includes your birthday, name, usernames, friends, blocked numbers, address, physical features etc. Both of these combined forms your online personality.
Now the question arises here, how to ensure safety from any digital track and how to keep your online data safe so that your privacy is not intruded. Speaking on the matter Pawan Duggal, a New Delhi-based cybercrime expert said, “Using anti-malware software on your laptop, desktop or the smart or android phone is the best solution to stop any kind of hack and the software is easily available without any charges. So, it’s all about awareness that people need to keep in mind while going digital.”
On how to prevent your privacy on internet domain Vigil Viswanathan, Head of Marketing at Khosla Labs — a company that provides Aadhaar-based digital authentication services using cutting-edge technology — gives the following top 5 ways that one can use to protect one’s data from misuse:
1] Change your browser
Almost all the major browser and OS companies track your behaviour and this stands especially true for Google and the browser that you use i.e. chrome.
One of the best ways to begin protecting your identity is to change to a browser that doesn’t track you and the very least you can control what you share with the company.
Tor is the one we recommend, Tor is built for privacy and doesn’t share or capture your browsing information with anyone.
Another browser that you can look at is Firefox, it is highly configurable w.r.t privacy and makes tracking your browsing behaviour extremely difficult for companies.
2] Enable 2-factor authentication
Two-Factor Authentication takes account security one step further, it makes logging in harder for anyone trying to gain unauthorised access to your account.
Instead of usually just using a single password to access your account you are expected to enter a shortcode usually sent to your phone or email id. This means a hacker would have to first gain access to your number and personal email id before they can log into any of your other accounts.
3] Review your social media Privacy settings
Privacy settings of your social media accounts including Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter keep changing. It makes sense to at least once in a couple of months to revisit these settings to see who has access to your personal data via these sites.
Especially since we use our social media accounts to signup with companies on the web inadvertently giving them access to your profile information.
4] Use Stronger passwords
A recent study by Virginia Tech researchers found that most of us make the same mistake while setting up passwords for our accounts. One of the major being using something personal like the name of your favourite team or date of birth as the password for your accounts. Though these passwords are easy to remember, these are easy for hackers who have access to your personal information to guess these too.
We recommend using passphrases instead of passwords to protect your account, use any phrase with 15 or more letters including special characters in them and if possible use a password manager to manage, remember and suggest strong passwords.
5] Review permissions for mobile apps and browser extension
Mobile apps require permission to multiple services and hardware to function as expected but the fact of the matter is this access to information is also being used by companies to profile you and track your online behaviour, which then is used for marketing by these companies. Though some mobile apps do require permission to your internal systems, you can actually control how much access these have. For example, you can limit a mobile app or a browser extension from accessing your camera or internal storage. The best way to protect your data online is to be mindful of what type of access permission are you allowing when installing or updating an app for your mobile or web browser.
We have to try to summarise the most common and easy to implement methods to protect your online data, though there exists no full proof way to do this as long as you use social media accounts or store your data in public storage. These steps would certainly make it harder for companies and individuals trying to access or use your personal data acquired online.