Online Privacy Protection: The Complete Checklist

Jul 29,2019 • Filed to: VPN • Proven solutions

These days, we read the news of identity theft and malware attacks on an everyday basis. From the last few years, there have been countless instances when an individual’s personal data was leaked online. Not just that – the leak of credit card details and ransomware attacks are at a record high as well.

Needless to say, it is high time you need to protect yourself online. It doesn’t matter if it is the tracking of your data behind your back or a threat on your social media accounts – you need to work on a 360-degree protection from any unexpected attack. Read on as we have come up with a comprehensive guide on online privacy protection related to every major device, platform, and potential threat.

Why online privacy protection matters?

Over the last few years, there have been various security attacks and instances of data breaches. Even reputed tech giants like Uber and Facebook have been found guilty of invading with their user’s privacy. Here are some of the major instances that have happened in the past.

  • The Twitter account details of 32 million users were leaked in 2016. In 2012, 100 million LinkedIn passwords were stolen and leaked online. In 2013, more than 300 million usernames and passwords from MySpace were leaked.
  • There has been a breach of data of more than 500 million Yahoo! users, 130 million Heartland user, 200 million Experian users, 145 million eBay users, and more in the last few years.
  • privacy protection on android - social media
  • Companies like Uber, Google, and Facebook have been accused of spying on users and tracking their activity without getting consent from them.
  • The latest Cambridge Analytica is one of the biggest data breaches related to Facebook. Data of more than 87 million users have been leaked under the latest breach.
  • The WannaCry Ransomware affected more than 300,000 computers in over 150 countries worldwide in 2017. There have been several other ransomware instances as well, in which user data was stolen by hackers and a ransom was asked to return it.
  • privacy protection on android - wannacry

These are only a handful of instances of numerous data breaches and attacks on our online privacy. Our data is no longer safe on e-commerce platforms or social media websites. A malware can infect our smartphones or computers out of the blue and corrupt our data. Therefore, in the present scenario, it has become more crucial than ever to focus on online security.

10 Tips to Protect Privacy on Android

While both iOS and Android can be infected by a malware or any other security threat, Android is more likely to be affected by it. This is because the Android OS ecosystem can easily be broken. Here are some reasons why Android is more sensitive to a security attack.

  • The Android OS can have unidentified security loopholes.
  • Too often, the manufacturers of Android devices fail to apply the needed security patches to enhance the device security.
  • The frequency of security updates and OTA patches are often delayed due to the involvement of third-party layering.
  • It has been reported that almost 50% of Android app developers ignore the security testing of their products before launching.
  • Mostly, the device metadata, the location history and data, and PII (Personal Identifiable Information) are targeted by hackers on Android devices.
  • Out of all the malwares related to smartphones, 98% are targeted for Android devices.

Since it is better to be safe than sorry, one must take the needed steps to keep their Android device safe and protected. Here are the 10 essential things that you should do to protect your Android device.

1. Secure your device

To start with, you need to make sure that your phone is protected from any perpetrator. If you leave it without a lock, then anyone can access your device without any trouble. While there are biometric locks (retina scans, face locks, and fingerprint scans), you should also secure your device with a pin/pattern/passcode.

privacy protection on android - secure device

Just unlock your device and go to its Settings > Security > Screen Lock. From here, you can select the type of screen lock you wish to implement. Confirm your choice and enable the lock.

2. Turn off location sharing

As you know, most of the security attacks access the location history of your device. Also, there are some apps that might be tracking your location in the background. Therefore, it is recommended to turn the location sharing feature off and only use it whenever needed. Just go to your device Settings > Location and turn it off. From here, you can also check the applications that are able to access your location.

privacy protection on android - location sharing

Furthermore, you can manage permissions for any application and make sure that it won’t track your location. For instance, if you don’t want Facebook to track your location, go to your phone’s app manager, select Facebook and tap on its “Permissions”. Here, you can manage the given permissions and turn off the location sharing feature.

privacy protection on android - location settings

3. Encrypt your phone

If you have sensitive information on your device, then you can also choose to encrypt it. In this way, a hacker won’t be able to access your media files, documents, app data, or any other crucial information. To encrypt your phone, just go to its security settings and choose to encrypt your device. You would be asked to set up a unique PIN that can be used to access your data.

privacy protection on android - encrypt phone

4. Turn off app installation from third-party sources

In most of the cases, Google makes sure that only secure apps are available on Google Play Store. Though, there are times when users wish to download apps from third-party sources. These apps might not be verified and can end up harming your phone. If you don’t want your device to be infected by any unwanted malware, then turn off the app installation from third-party sources.

privacy protection on android - disable  3rd-party app installation

To do this, just go to your device Settings > Security. Under the Device Administration section, turn off the app installation from “unknown sources”.

5. Turn off the automatic backup of your data

While taking a backup of our data is quite helpful, it comes with certain pitfalls. If an individual can hack your Google account, then they can also access your phone’s data as well. Therefore, you should take an automatic backup only if you don’t store any private information on your device. Just go to your device Settings > Backup & Reset and turn off the backup option.

privacy protection on android -no auto-backup

6. Revisit the Google Ads settings

A lot of people don’t know this, but Google gives us a feasible solution to opt out of the ads as well. In this way, you can further control apps from tracking you. Just go to your phone’s Settings > Google > Ads and opt out of internet-based ads by turning the relevant feature on.

privacy protection on android -google ads

7. Tweak your Google settings a bit

Besides Google ads, there are some other Google settings that you should customize as well. For instance, Google can track your data, searches, and more. Go to your phone’s Google Settings and manage them to make sure you won’t give away your personal information to Google. While restricting everything is tough (since Google is the backbone of Android), you can take some needed actions.

privacy protection on android - google settings

8. Manage applications

Besides your location, an application can monitor a few other details related to your device as well. It can access your camera, contacts, calendars, messages, and other crucial details. To make sure that an application would only access relevant information, go to your device Settings > App Permissions. From here, you can grant or revoke permissions to various applications.

privacy protection on android - manage apps

9. Turn off Google Smart Lock

While Google’s Smart Lock feature is extremely useful, it can compromise with your privacy. The feature makes your passwords available on numerous other devices that are linked to the same Google account. Though, if someone gets an access to either one of these devices, they can exploit all the other accounts as well. Just go to your Google Settings > Smart Lock Passwords and turn the feature off.

privacy protection on android - turn off smart lock

10. Enable automatic wipe

Android also comes with a security feature known as “Automatic Wipe” which is not known by a lot of people. If the feature is turned on, then your device would automatically be wiped after 10 failed unlock attempts. If someone would try to hack your data, then the feature will prevent it from happening.

To enable the feature, go to your device settings > security and turn on the “Automatic Wipe” option. Though, you should make sure that you (or anyone else) won’t activate this feature unintentionally.

privacy protection on android - auto wipe

Useful Apps to protect privacy on Android

Apart from implementing the above-stated tips, there are certain Android apps that you can use as well. These apps will further protect your device’s security and your data.

1. AppLock

As the name suggests, AppLock is used to lock any app on your Android device. Besides apps, you can also lock folders as well. In this way, you can keep your photos, videos, music, or any other app secure. If you use banking or payment apps, then you should certainly use this tool. There are multiple themes to pick from and different locking mechanisms (pin, pattern, fingerprint, and so on).

privacy protection on android - applock

2. Nord VPN

If you don’t like to give away your location while using your Android device, then you can use this virtual private network. While the free version would meet your basic requirements, you can always upgrade to a premium plan to access its advanced features. You can connect to 60 different countries as of now. In this way, you can protect your privacy and block ads while browsing the web.

privacy protection on android - nord vpn

3. Brave Browser

Developed by Brave Software, the app will make sure that you browse the internet without any unwanted ads. It has an inbuilt ad-blocker and tons of other added features. You can block scripts, trackers, and customize your browsing experience pretty easily. Furthermore, it will also boost the browsing speed as well.

privacy protection on android - brave browser

4. Authy 2-Factor Authentication

For all those who wish to protect their online accounts, Authy is a must-have app. It can help you manage 2-step verification tokens for other apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Dropbox, etc. You can also sync it with multiple devices, get backup tokens, and take further steps to protect your online space. It also supports bitcoins and other payment apps.

privacy protection on android - authy 2-factor

5. LastPass Password Manager

LastPass is undoubtedly one of the most productive apps that you can use. It can manage your passwords across multiple devices. Just record your passwords once and access them with a single tap on different occasions. It supports the auto-filling of details on web browsers and app logins as well. There is also a native “secure notes” feature to save certain details on the go.

privacy protection on android - lastpass password manager

10 Tips to Protect Your Privacy on iPhone/iPad

While iOS devices have a better security protocol than Android, they can still be compromised. Particularly, if you have a jailbroken device, then the chances of it getting corrupt are more.  Here are some reasons why you should be concerned about your privacy protection on an iOS device.

  • An iOS user can be a victim of a phishing attack and disclose their private information, banking details, etc. unintentionally.
  • There are times when hackers are able to identify vulnerabilities in beta iOS releases. Your device can be infected by a malware, if not protected.
  • The Apple ID hijacking is at a record high. By hacking your Apple ID, anyone can gain an access to vital information on your device.
  • Sometimes, a malware can infect your iOS device via a public Wifi network or even a Bluetooth. Contrary to the popular belief, the security in iOS devices is not foolproof.
  • Jailbroken devices are more likely to be infected by a malware due to their non-restricted functioning.
  • Your device can even be physically stolen as well. According to a report nearby 1/5th of the total thefts in NYC included iOS devices. After stealing your device, your sensitive data can also be accessed.

If you don’t want to be a victim of data or identity theft, then you should follow these suggestions.

1. Set up alphanumeric codes

First things first – if your device is not locked, then anyone can access your data easily. Furthermore, it is easier to crack a 4-digit pin than a long alphanumeric code. To set up an alphanumeric code, go to your device Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Change Passcode > Passcode Options. Tap on the “Custom Alphanumeric Code” option and set up a long password that would be harder to crack.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - alphanumeric codes

2. Turn off location sharing

Location sharing is certainly a double-edged sword. While it allows us to stay in touch with our friends and family, it also makes it easier for a perpetrator to know our whereabouts. If you don’t want others to track your location, make sure the feature is turned off. Go to your device’s privacy settings > location services > Share my location and turn the option off.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - location sharing

Furthermore, under the location services option, you can visit the “system services” section. From here, you can grant or revoke the location service for any feature/app on your device. In this way, you can turn off location sharing for the services that don’t essentially need to track your location.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - location settings

3. Erase data after failed unlock attempts

Just like Android, iOS also provides a feature to erase the content on a device after consecutive failed unlock attempts. Therefore, if your phone has been stolen by someone, then they need to know your passcode to access your data. If they enter the wrong passcode 10 times consecutively, then your phone will automatically erase its data. To enable this feature, go to your phone’s Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and turn on the “Erase Data” option.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - erase data

4. Restrict apps from accessing your data

Sometimes, when we install an app, we give it numerous permissions. In this case, an app can access your personal information without even getting detected. Therefore, you should keep checking your privacy settings and only let essential apps to access your data. Go to your device’s privacy settings to check this. From here, you can grant or revoke the access to your phone’s data like contacts, calendar, photos, etc.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - restrict apps

5. Limit Ad Tracking

The ad tracking feature is a native option in every iOS device, which let advertisers target users with specific ads. While doing so, they might track your data and browsing history. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to limit ad tracking on your device. Go to its Settings > Privacy > Advertisements and turn on the option of “Limit ad tracking”.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - ad tracking

6. Reset the advertising identifier

Besides limiting the ad tracking, you should also take some added measures to avoid being tracked by other apps. To do this, you can reset the advertising identifier on your device. You can find it listed right under the “Limit ad tracking” feature on your phone’s privacy settings.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - ad identifier

7. Turn off iCloud backup for apps

While iCloud backup is an amazing feature, it does put a dent in our privacy. Anyone can access our data if they know the credentials of our iCloud account. Also, it is recommended to turn off iCloud data backup option for apps. Otherwise, a hacker can even access your app data remotely. Just go to your device’s iCloud settings and turn off the backup of app data for the selected apps. Make sure that it is essentially turned off for all the banking and payment apps.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - disable icloud backup for apps

8. Disable notification preview on the lock screen

To let users access their notifications easily, the device provides its preview on the lock screen. Though, anyone else can also get a glimpse of your notifications this way. To avoid this, go to your device’s Settings > Notifications and tap on the app you wish to customize. From here, turn off the “Show on lock screen” option.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - notification preview

9. Customize your lock screen

A user can access certain features of your device even when it is locked. For instance, The “Reply with Message” feature allows us to reply to a message without unlocking the device. While the feature is convenient, it can make your phone more vulnerable. To disable it, go to your phone’s Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. Under the “Allow access when locked” section, you can find different options. Simply turn off the relevant features, like Siri, Reply with Message, Wallet, etc.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - lock screen customization

10. Turn on the “Find my iPhone” service

If you don’t want to lose your iPhone, then make sure the “Find my iPhone” service is enabled on your device. Simply go to your device’s iCloud settings and turn on the “Find my iPhone” option. In this way, you can remotely access the location of your phone by visiting the official website of iCloud on any other device. This will help you locate your device if it gets stolen or lost.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - find my iphone

Useful Apps to Protect Privacy on iPhone/iPad

Besides implementing the above-listed suggestions, there are also some third-party security apps that you can use. These apps will help you manage your data and use your device smartly.

1. 1password

If you keep forgetting your passwords, then 1password is a must-have app for you. It can help you manage all your passwords in one place. Not just passwords, you can also store the banking and credit card details as well. All the information is protected by a master password to prevent the leak of your sensitive data. You can also access your passwords on different devices by simply using the 1password app.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - 1password

2. Kaspersky Safe Browser

While Safari is a safe browser, it doesn’t do a decent job in protecting our privacy. Therefore, you can use this third-party secure browser, which is developed by Kaspersky. It can automatically identify and block malware attacks, phishing sites, and other malicious sources. It also has a safe browsing feature which automatically blocks explicit and violent content.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - Kaspersky browser

3. Private Photo Vault

Our photos can give anyone a glimpse of our life and should be protected at any cost.  To protect them, you can use this remarkable app. It can protect your photo gallery with a PIN so that only you can access it. Also, you can make certain photos/album private, exclude the GPS tagging from photos, and do so much more to keep your photos safe.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - Private Photo Vault

4. ProtonMail

ProtonMail is one of the strongest email service apps that you can try. It encrypts all your emails in such a way that only the sender and the receiver would be able to see them. This protects your emails from any hack (like man-in-the-middle attack). It supports a seamless end-to-end encryption of emails and is an entirely free application. Although, there are some features that are only available for premium accounts.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - ProtonMail app

5. Keeply

With Keeply, you can easily protect your private information, like your photos, notes, passwords, and more. You can make private notes so that no one else can access them. It also takes a secure backup of your stored data as well for an emergency situation. Also, if someone will try to access your data, the app can take the photo of the intruder as well.

protect privacy on iphone and ipad - Keeply app

15 Tips to Protect Privacy on Windows Computer

After learning how to protect Android and iOS devices, it is important to focus on computers as well. Since millions of people use Windows computers on a daily basis, they need to learn how to protect their privacy as well.

  • A Windows computer can be vulnerable to numerous kinds of security threats. From a malware attack to a phishing attempt, one needs to look for numerous security breaches.
  • While Windows keep pushing new updates, sometimes hackers find a way to exploit the vulnerability in the operating system to access your data.
  • There are times when users simply turn off the native firewall on the computer. In this case, they get exposed to countless security threats.
  • Not only by connecting to the internet, your computer can be infected by downloading a file or simply installing any software.
  • Your Windows computer can also be infected by a malware when a corrupt external data source (like flash drive or hard disk) is connected to it.

In a nutshell, it is not a herculean task to hack someone’s Windows computer and access their crucial details. To avoid such an unwanted situation, you should follow these expert suggestions.

1. Update Windows regularly

If you wish to keep your Windows computer safe and protected from any malicious attack, then make sure it is updated. Windows keep pushing the latest security patches to protect your system. You can simply visit your system’s Settings > Update & Security. From here, you can check for the latest update and even turn on the automatic update feature as well.

protect privacy on windows - update os

2. Uninstall unwanted software

If your Windows computer is cluttered with too many unwanted software, then you should simply get rid of them. Not only they acquire unnecessary space on your system, but also make it vulnerable to a security breach. Just go to Control Panel > Programs to view all the installed programs. Select the software you wish to remove, right-click it, and choose to uninstall it. By following the simple on-screen instructions, you would be able to uninstall the program. Afterward, you can do the same for all the other related programs as well.

protect privacy on windows - uninstall software

3. Keep the important tools and software updated

Besides the Windows operating system, you should also make sure that all the important tools, services, and software are up to date. For instance, the .Net Framework, Java, Adobe Flash Player, Acrobat Reader, etc. should be updated for a seamless functioning. Mostly, the tool displays an automatic update prompt. If not, you can go to your Programs list and update the software manually.

protect privacy on windows - update software

4. Keep Microsoft Defender updated and running

Even if you are not able to update the entire operating system, make sure that Defender is up to date. Microsoft Defender is the native antivirus and firewall that protects the computer from malicious attacks. You can just launch the application and update it. Also, make sure that the real-time scanning of data is enabled in Defender.

protect privacy on windows - update the defender

5. Use a third-party security tool

Too many times, the native firewall on Windows is not able to identify a malicious threat. If you want, you can always use a third-party advanced anti-malware tool to further strengthen your system’s overall security. Avast, Avira, McAfee, AVG, Kaspersky, Norton, etc. are known for some reliable security tools that you can use.

protect privacy on windows - use security tool

6. Create regular Restore Points

It is recommended to create Restore Points in Windows in a timely manner. In this way, you can restore your system settings after an unexpected malfunctioning. Go to your System Properties in order to create a Restore Point. Later, you can just load the restore point to preserve your settings.

protect privacy on windows - regular restore points

7. Backup your data

The 2017 WannaCry is one of the many ransomware attacks that made the need of data backup more urgent than ever. If you don’t want to lose your data, then make sure you are taking its timely backup. You can always store your data in an external hard drive or any other secondary source. A more convenient way to backup your data is by using a cloud-based service like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. In this way, you can access your data from different devices remotely.

protect privacy on windows - file backup

8. Use a standard user account

You can access your Windows system as either an administrator or a standard account. You might already know that an administrator account is more powerful and has the right to make numerous changes in the system settings. Therefore, if a perpetrator gets a hold of your admin account, then they might cause an evident harm to your system. To avoid this, it is better to access your computer as a standard account and only switch to the admin account whenever necessary.

If you don’t have a standard account, then simply go to the system’s user settings. By following a simple wizard, you can create a standard account with limited privileges.

protect privacy on windows - standard user account

9. Customize the User Account Control settings

UAC (User Account Control) is the native feature in Windows to prevent any unauthorized access. Since it can get pretty annoying, users tend to disable it altogether. Instead of turning it off, you can level down its intensity. In this way, you will be notified if any substantial change would be made to your system.

protect privacy on windows - user account control settings

10. Encrypt your data

If you have sensitive information on your system, then you should encrypt your data. There are numerous tools that you can use to encrypt your data. For instance, BitLocker is a popular tool that can even encrypt your entire hard disk partition or selected folder. Once you have encrypted your data, a unique passcode would be needed to access it.

protect privacy on windows - data encryption

11. Reset network settings

Every once in a while you should also reset the network settings on your computer. It becomes easier for hackers to penetrate your network’s firewall if you have the default settings. You can view your network status in the system settings to check for any suspicious activity. Later, you can reset the network and configure the new settings.

protect privacy on windows - network settings

12. Turn on password protected sharing

If you share files across a network, then you should practice the password protected sharing feature. In this way, the shared folders can only be accessed after verifying a password. Just go to your system’s advanced network and sharing options and enable the password protection sharing feature. You can also choose to encrypt the shared files from here as well.

protect privacy on windows - password protected sharing

13. Customize the privacy settings

While there are dedicated privacy settings in almost all the Windows versions, Windows 10 has certainly come up with a hassle-free way to customize them. Under the General settings of your system, you can find a dedicated option for privacy settings. From here, you can reset or even turn off your advertising ID. You can also stop websites from providing location-specific ads. In this way, you can further strengthen the privacy protection on your computer.

protect privacy on windows - privacy settings

14. Turn off the location tracking

If you have a Windows laptop and simply moves around a lot, then you should certainly turn off the location tracking feature on your system. Windows 10 provides a simple solution for this so that various apps and services can’t track your current location or the past location history. Simply visit the location settings of your system and toggle off the location tracking option. You can also view (or disable) the location history feature from here as well.

protect privacy on windows - disable location tracking

15. Protect your online privacy

Last, but most importantly, you should also take the needed measures to protect your online space. Although we have discussed the browser security tips later in this guide, there are certain precautionary measures that you should always take. Don’t click on suspicious links or pop-ups from unreliable sources. Also, make sure you keep unique and strong passwords for your accounts and enable two-step verification to protect them.

How to Configure Mac OS to Protect Your Privacy?

If you are using Mac instead of Windows, then you need to take some needed steps to configure your privacy. The first few versions of Mac OS (like 10.0 Cheetah) certainly had a few security loopholes. Though, the latest editions like 10.14 Mojave are more focused on protecting user data.

Nevertheless, a Mac can also get infected by a malicious attack or a malware. You can be a victim of a phishing attack as well. If left unrestricted, certain apps and website can even track your location and vital details. Therefore, if you want to protect your privacy on Mac, then focus on these suggestions.

1. Disable automatic login

To make it easier for users to access the system, Mac provides a feature of automatic login. If the feature is turned on, then anyone can access your computer without passing a security check. Needless to say, it makes it easier for others to invade your privacy. You can go to the User & Groups settings > Login Options and turn off automatic login. From here, you can also enable the ID and password verification system as well.

protect mac os privacy - turn off auto-login

2. Encrypt your disk

One of the best things about Mac is that it supports a full-disk encryption. In this way, you can protect your data even if your Mac has been stolen. FileVault is a native feature in Mac that can encrypt your entire disk with AES 128 encryption protocol. Just go to Preferences > System & Privacy > FileVault to encrypt your disk. Afterward, a password would be needed to access this data.

protect mac os privacy - disk encryption

3. Always keep the Firewall on

Just like Windows, Mac also comes with a native firewall. Though, you need to make sure that the firewall is turned on to give a real-time protection to your Mac. To do this, simply go to the System & Privacy settings and visit the Firewall tab. If it is turned off, then simply toggle it on and save your changes. You can even customize firewall settings by visiting the Advanced Settings from here.

protect mac os privacy - firewall on mac

4. Check privacy permissions

Some programs can have access to the sensitive information on your Mac, like its location. To check these permissions, go to its System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy. Here, you can check all the applications that have the access to your location. If you want, you can disable location service from here as well.

protect mac os privacy - privacy permission

5. Turn off diagnostics reporting

While diagnostics help us report any malfunctioning to Apple, it can invade with our privacy. If there is a man-in-the-middle attack, then the perpetrator can get an access to vital information on your Mac.  Just go to the Privacy section, under the Security & Privacy settings and turn off the diagnostic reports feature.

protect mac os privacy - diagnostics reporting

6. Turn off the guest login

By default, anyone can access your Mac via guest login. This can let any user access your system even without knowing the user account credentials. While the guest user won’t have the needed privileges to make any drastic changes, it is still a big risk. You can just go to the User & Groups settings and uncheck the option that allows guest login.

protect mac os privacy - no guest login

7. Use a standard account

While an administrator account might give you more power, one should refrain from using it all the time. Ideally, you should create a secondary standard account on your Mac and use it instead. In this way, even if your account gets hacked, the perpetrator won’t be able to cause any evident damage to your system. Simply go to the User & Groups settings and click on the “+” icon under the Login options. Choose to create a standard account from here and provide the relevant details to complete the setup.

protect mac os privacy - standard account

8. Disable Safari and Spotlight suggestions

Even though the Spotlight suggestions can be convenient and save your time, they can tamper with your privacy at times. If you are quite serious about your privacy, then you should consider turning them off. To do this, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Details.  From here, you need to disable the Safari and Spotlight suggestions.

protect mac os privacy - Safari and Spotlight

9. Protect your system settings

Needless to say, the system settings on your Mac are of utmost importance and should always be protected. You should only provide an access to system settings after verifying with the admin password. To enable this, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Advanced settings. Here, you need to enable the “Require an administrator password to access system-wide settings” option.

protect mac os privacy - system settings protection

10. Turn on Find my Mac

Just like iPhone, Apple also provides a similar option for Mac as well. The Find my Mac will let you locate your laptop remotely by simply visiting the iCloud website. To turn it on, launch the iCloud app and click on the “Find my Mac” button. Simply enable the feature and use it whenever you want.

protect mac os privacy - find my mac

11. Check the Activity log more often

You should make a habit of checking the activity log on your Mac more often. To access the Activity Monitor, go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. The app has different tabs corresponding to various parameters. Here, you can view all the recent applications and their relevant loads. In this way, you can easily identify any malicious activity on your system.

protect mac os privacy - activity log check

12. Display all the filename extensions

Too often, a malware disguises as any other file to fool us. Therefore, you should know the exact extensions of all the files stored on your Mac. To enable this feature, go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced settings. Enable the “Show all filename extensions” to turn the feature on. Afterward, the Finder will display the exact extension of all the files so that you can easily identify any malware.

protect mac os privacy - turn off filename extensions

13. Set a strong firmware password

Even if you have disabled the guest login and have set up a strong password for your accounts, hackers can still find a way to access your system. For instance, they can boot your Mac to a single user mode or simply alter the disk. Therefore, you should enable a firmware password which will prevent anyone from booting your Mac from another OS.

To enable this, just restart your Mac and boot it in the Recovery mode (by pressing the Command + R keys). Once the OS X Utilities screen will appear, you can go to the “Firmware Password Utility” option. This will launch a dedicated wizard, which can help you set up a firmware password for your Mac.

protect mac os privacy - strong password

14. Take a backup of your data

Needless to say, it is of utmost importance to always maintain a second copy of your data. There are numerous ways to take a backup of your Mac data. You can always manually copy the important files to a secondary storage unit (like an external hard drive). Also, you can use a native solution like Time Machine to backup your files. Time Machine is one of the most feasible and reliable ways to maintain a regular backup of your Mac to overcome any unwanted data loss.

protect mac os privacy - data backup on mac

15. Use an anti-virus and keep your Mac updated

Lastly, you can always use a third-party security tool to further add another layer of protection on your Mac. There are numerous reliable anti-virus tools from companies like AVG, Avast, Norton, McAfee, etc. that you can always use. Furthermore, make sure that your Mac and all the software are updated to prevent any unwanted security breach.

protect mac os privacy -update mac system

Don’t Expose Your Privacy when Disposing Old Devices

We all buy new smartphones, computers, and other smart devices every now and then. Sometimes, our old devices can have crucial information that should not be accessed by anyone else. For instance, your old phone can have your private photos, ATM pins, social security number, and other details that should not be accessed by anyone else. Therefore, there are certain things that you need to do before disposing an old device.

1. Delete all the existing data

First of all, make sure that your device does not have any user data on it. Needless to say, you should take a backup of your phone or computer beforehand. Once you have its backup, make sure that you manually delete all the media files, contacts, notes, etc. The best way to do it is by factory resetting your device. By simply visiting the device settings, you can get rid of all the saved content and reset your device.

protect privacy during device disposal - delete current data

2. Use a third-party data eraser

The truth is that even after deleting the data from your device manually, it can be retrieved using a data recovery tool. If you want to avoid such an unwanted situation, then you can use a third-party data eraser or file shredder. There are all kinds of tools for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac out there that you can use to get rid of your data beyond the scope of recovery. For instance, dr.fone – Erase can get rid of all the existing data on your iOS or Android device permanently.

protect privacy during device disposal - erase phone data permanently

3. Log out of all the accounts

Before you give your device to someone else, make sure that you have logged-out of all the apps and accounts. Besides social media accounts, make sure that you have signed-out of essential user account like Google, iCloud, and so on. If you have turned on the syncing of your device, then you need to make sure it is disabled and that the user account is no longer linked.

protect privacy during device disposal - log out of accounts

4. De-authorize your computer

If you are disposing a computer, then you should certainly perform this step. There are certain tools and software (like Microsoft Office or iTunes) that only work on authorized computers. In order to use them on your new system, you need to de-authorize them beforehand. Therefore, before you sign-out of these tools, make sure that you de-authorize your computer for a smooth transitioning.

protect privacy during device disposal - de-authorize pc

5. Delete the browsing history and cache

While users often get rid of the important files from their devices, they often forget to delete the browsing history. If you don’t want the new user of the device to invade your privacy, then make sure that you have taken this step. Visit all the commonly used browsers on your phone or computer and manually delete the browsing history, cache, cookies, and other kinds of content.

protect privacy during device disposal - delete browsing history

How to Protect Your Privacy on Wearable Devices?

Our wearable devices like smartwatches can sometimes store crucial information about us. From our medical records to our whereabouts, they can store all kinds of data. Though, hacking a smart wearable device is a whole lot easier than hacking a computer or a phone. Therefore, you need to take some necessary security measures to protect your private information on your wearable devices. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Know the privacy policy of the device

First things first – you need to carefully read the privacy policy that the wearable device follows. Most of the devices agree to record information and only share it under extreme conditions. The aim is to help doctors diagnose a problem by getting an extensive medical record of your activities. Though, sometimes these conditions are not clear. Therefore, you could be legally allowing the company to use your data after giving consent. Make sure that you read all the fine lines to protect your privacy.

2. Customize the settings of your wearables

Most of the wearable devices can be connected to a smartphone via an Android or iOS app. This can help you take a complete control of the device. Download the relevant app and visit its settings to make sure you are not sharing too much information. For instance, if you are using Apple Watch, then simply visit its settings of your iPhone and alter the options you don’t like.

protect privacy on wearable - custom settings

3. Don’t sync it with too many devices

The good thing about wearable devices is that they can be synced with several other sources. Though, if you want to protect your private information, then you should avoid syncing them with numerous other devices. If either of these devices is hacked, then anyone can access your vital details. Just go to the settings on the synced device and unpair your wearable from it. Ideally, syncing it with one smartphone is enough.

protect privacy on wearable - sync with limited devices only

4. Turn off the payment options

A lot of wearable devices also support payment options, which allows us to pay wirelessly by simply holding our wearable nearby the swipe machines. This is something that you should always avoid. For instance, if your Apple Watch is linked to Apple Pay, then you should change its settings. Make sure that your wearable device is not linked to any banking or payment app for better security.

protect privacy on wearable - payment options

5. Disable the diagnostics and sharing of data

By default, most of the wearable devices send the diagnostic data to the main server. While the motive is to report malfunctioning or glitch in the device, it often sends some crucial information related to the device as well. According to the experts, you should disable the diagnostics feature to protect your privacy. This can be done by simply visiting the privacy settings of the device and turning off the diagnostics or reporting of data.

protect privacy on wearable - turn off data sharing

6. Monitor the app permissions

Not just the wearable device, you should also carefully examine the things its related app can access on your device. For instance, a smartwatch usually gets an access to the phone’s calls, messages, contacts, camera, location, and other features. This can certainly be an alarming sign for your privacy. Simply visit the relevant settings on your device and only grant the wearable the permissions you are comfortable with.

protect privacy on wearable - app permission

7. Turn off the location tracking

No user likes to be tracked by an application. If you don’t want others to know your location by accessing the related data of the wearable, then you should turn off the location tracking feature. You can go to its mobile app or the settings of the wearable device itself. Under the location services, you can grant or revoke the location tracking permission for the device.

protect privacy on wearable - disable location tracking

8. Enable the find my device service

If you don’t want to turn off the location tracking feature, then why not make the most of it. Almost all the wearable devices come with a tracking feature as well. This can help us locate the device if it is lost or stolen. For instance, the Apple Watch is linked to the Find my iPhone service. Simply turn the feature on and locate your wearable remotely from any other device.

protect privacy on wearable - find my device

Must-do Steps to Protect Privacy on Facebook

Lately, Facebook has been under lots of scrutiny for its ambiguous privacy policy. Inspite of being the biggest social media platform in the world, it isn’t the most reliable one. As of now, Facebook has over 2.2 billion monthly active users. This mean, the company needs massive servers to store their data. Though, the recent Cambridge Analytica only proved how easy it is to exploit the user data on Facebook.

If you want to make sure that your data stays protected on Facebook, then you need to take some security measures. To start with, you can follow these suggestions.

1. Update your password regularly

If you are using the same password for your Facebook account for years, then you should change it right away. Ideally, you should have a unique and strong alphanumeric password for your account which is hard to guess. Just go to your account settings > security & login and click on the “Change password” option. You would have to verify your existing password to set up the new one. The good thing is that it will automatically log out your account from all the connected devices.

keep privacy secure on facebook - update password

2. Enable two-step verification

The two-step verification is a common yet extremely reliable approach to keep your account secure. If a hacker knows the credentials of your Facebook account, they would need to verify the one-time password which would be sent to your device. This makes it really hard for any perpetrator to hack your account. Simply go to the account’s security settings, provide your phone number, and get started with 2-step verification.

keep privacy secure on facebook - verify in 2 steps

3. Turn on login notifications

This is one of the essential Facebook settings that you should enable. In this way, if someone will try to access your Facebook account, you will be notified on your phone immediately. This can help you take the required actions to prevent your account from being compromised. Go to the security settings of your account and enable login notifications. You can receive them via emails and text messages.

keep privacy secure on facebook - turn on login note

4. Add trusted contacts

It is of utmost importance to add 3-5 trusted contacts to your Facebook account. In this way, if your account gets compromised, your trusted contacts can help you regain its access. You can simply visit the security settings of your account and manually add the Facebook profiles of 3 to 5 contacts you trust. They will also be notified that you have added them as a trusted contact.

keep privacy secure on facebook - trusted contacts

5. Customize the Facebook security settings

Besides login notification and 2-factor notification, Facebook provides tons of other security settings that you can adjust according to your needs. You can easily get recovery codes, add security keys, set up authorized logins, generate app passwords, and do so much more. In this way, you can truly make your account more secure and protected.

keep privacy secure on facebook - security settings

6. Maintain a private profile

If you don’t want other Facebook users to get in touch with you or see your updates, then you can make your account private. To do this, you need to go to the privacy settings of your account. From here, you can control who sends you a friendship request, how can people look you up (via email or mobile number), and so on. You can also go to the account information and make them private so that people won’t know your age, present city, workplace, and other vital details.

keep privacy secure on facebook - private profile

7. Change the visibility of your posts

Furthermore, if you don’t want others to access your posts, then you can change its visibility. Whenever you draft a post, you get an option to change its audience as well. Though, you can also go to your account’s privacy settings to further customize it. The visibility can be for everyone, just friends, just me, and so on. You can even exclude a few people from viewing your posts. This will let you control who sees your Facebook updates.

keep privacy secure on facebook - visibility settings

8. Take control of app settings and permissions

The Facebook apps are often taken for granted by the users. If we can learn anything from the Cambridge Analytica scandal is that we should not give any Facebook app unnecessary permission. Firstly, go to the apps section of your Facebook settings to view all the apps your account is linked to. You can simply revoke the permission and get rid of any app you no longer use. Just double-click the app to view the information it can access. You can revoke or change the app permissions from here as well.

keep privacy secure on facebook - app settings

9. Examine your activity logs and sessions regularly

Facebook maintains an extensive activity log for every account. Ideally, you should check your account’s activity log every now and then. Just go to your profile and click on the “Activity log” button. This will display a list of all the recent activities related to your account. If you don’t remember any activity or find anything suspicious, then you should be alarmed.

keep privacy secure on facebook - check logs and sessions

Besides activity logs, you can also view the last as well as the active sessions of your account as well. The feature provides details related to the location and device of t2he last sessions. If you find that your account had a suspicious session, then you should change its password immediately.

keep privacy secure on facebook - sessions of account

10. Don’t use your Facebook account to sign-up on other services

Last, but most importantly, don’t use your Facebook account to sign-up for any other website or service. These days, a lot of apps and websites let us sign-up by using our Facebook or Google account. While it can be time-saving, it can backfire in the long run. If you lost access to your Facebook account, then you might find it hard to recover the linked account as well. Therefore, you should sign-up using your email id instead of your Facebook account.

keep privacy secure on facebook - no sign-up to other online services

5 Steps to Protect Privacy on Twitter

Besides Facebook, there are several other social media platforms that can invade your privacy. Twitter certainly does not have a good reputation when it comes to keeping the data of its users safe. Back in 2016, the credentials of 32 million Twitter accounts were leaked online. A while back, Twitter was also alleged to sell the data of millions of users to Cambridge Analytica as well.

In May 2018, Twitter urged all of its 330 million users to change their passwords after a bug exposed them. Needless to say, it is of utmost importance to take some preventive measures to make your Twitter account more secure.

1. Revoke third-party app access

It has been observed that the third-party apps on Twitter can access your information and leak it without your concern. Therefore, you should carefully examine all the apps that are linked to your Twitter account. Go to your account’s Settings & Privacy > Applications to view all the connected applications. From here, you can revoke the access to any apps that you find suspicious. Ideally, it is not recommended to link your Twitter account with too many third-party apps.

twitter privacy note - revoke 3rd-party app access

2. Opt out of Twitter’s tailored ads

As the name suggests, the tailored ads on Twitter collect user data in order to come up with personalized ads. To make it work, Twitter might track your browsing experience outside of Twitter as well. Therefore, you should simply opt out of this service. Go to your account’s Privacy & Safety settings and disable the option for promoted content (tailored ads).

twitter privacy note - no tailored ads

3. Tweak Twitter’s personalized settings

Besides opting out of Twitter’s tailored ads, there are some changes that you should make in the personalized settings as well. You can find these options under the Privacy & Safety settings of your account. From here, you can disable the target of personalized ads on the basis of your location, device, browsing, etc. Furthermore, you can choose not to see content from Twitter across the web from here.

twitter privacy note - change custom settings

4. Protect your Tweets

This is the closest you can get to a private account. By visiting your account’s privacy settings you can enable the “Protect my Tweets” option. Afterward, your tweets won’t be available publicly.  Only the Twitter users whom you allow to follow your account will be able to see your tweets (and all the connected media).

twitter privacy note - tweets protection

5. Disable location tracking

If you are an active user of Twitter, then you might already know how the platform allows us to include our location with our tweets. A lot of people don’t like it when Twitter tracks their location. If you are also serious about your privacy, then you should turn this feature off. Go to your account’s privacy settings and disable the “Tweet with a location” feature. In addition to that, you can delete the location information from your past tweets from here as well.

twitter privacy note - turn off location tracing

Besides these suggestions, you should follow the regular security drill to protect your account. For instance, you should have a strong and unique password on Twitter. Don’t use your Twitter account to sign-up for various other apps and websites. Also, you should enable the two-step verification on your account to make it more secure.

6 Ways to Protect Privacy on Instagram

While Instagram is a highly secure platform, it has suffered from a few data breaches in the past. Back in 2017, the credentials of 6 million high-profile Instagram accounts were leaked. Since most of the people access Instagram on their phone, it is important to level up the privacy on your account. Here are some security suggestions that you can implement to protect your Instagram account.

1. Make your profile private

If your account is private, then only the users whom you have allowed to follow you can view your posts. Therefore, if you don’t want to make your Instagram content accessible to all the other users, then you should make your account private. Simply go to your account options and turn on the feature for a private account. Afterward, only the approved users can view your Instagram content. Though, this won’t affect your existing followers.

protect instagram privacy - make profile private

2. Enable two-factor authentication

Just like other social media platforms, you should enable the two-step authentication for your Instagram account too. If any perpetrator would like to hack your account, they would need to authenticate it with a unique code as well. This would make it tougher for anyone to hack your account. To enable it, visit your account options > two-factor authentication and turn on the feature of “Require security codes”. From here, you can also note some backup codes as well for an emergency.

protect instagram privacy - 2-factor authentication

3. Tweak the app permissions

The Instagram app can access some vital features on your phone, like its storage, contacts, camera, location, etc. While some features (like camera) are important for its functioning, you can always customize the app permission. Just visit your phone’s settings > apps > Instagram. From here, you can grant or revoke any permission. If you don’t want the app to track your location, then simply turn off the location option from here.

protect instagram privacy - app permission

4. Manually approve your tagged posts

Similar to Facebook, your friends can tag you on their Instagram posts. These tagged photos are visible on your profile under a separate section (photos of you). If you don’t want all the tagged photos to appear on your profile, then you can manually approve tags as well. Just go to your profile Options > Photos of You and switch to the “Add Manually” option. From now onwards, you can manually approve or deny the tagged photos to appear on your profile.

protect instagram privacy - tagged posts

5. Disconnect other social accounts

One of the best things about Instagram is that it can easily be connected to other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. In this way, when you post something on Instagram, you can automatically reflect it on other platforms as well. While this is a user-friendly move, it can tamper with your privacy. If someone has hacked your Instagram account, they can post anything on other social media platforms as well in no time.

We recommend that you go to the “Linked Accounts” section under your profile settings and disconnect all the connected accounts. In this way, you can keep all the other platforms separate and safe.

protect instagram privacy -linked account

6. Customize the Instagram Story settings

Besides a usual post, you can also upload something on your Instagram story as well. The best thing about Instagram story is that the uploaded content will only be visible for the next 24 hours. Even though this content would be temporarily available, you should make sure that only selected users can see it. Go to your profile Options > Story Settings and choose the audience for your Instagram stories. You can also hide stories from certain people and customize the message replies as well.

protect instagram privacy - story settings

8 Tips to Stay Safe on Snapchat

While Snapchat is a new-age social media platform, it has been associated with security breaches plenty of times. In 2014, 4.6 million Snapchat users suffered from a data breach. Back in 2016, experts found a few vulnerabilities in the application. Also, in 2017, it was assumed that over 1 million Snapchat accounts were hacked.

Snapchat certainly has a long way to go when it comes to protecting the data of its users. Since most of the Snapchat users are teens, the matter of privacy becomes more evident than ever. If you or your kids are using Snapchat, then you need to work on these security measures right away.

1. Control how people can contact you

Most of us share our personal and day to day activities on Snapchat. Therefore, you should control how people can contact you on Snapchat. This will let you have a restricted and private account. Simply go to your account settings, and under the “who can…” section, tap on “contact me”. From here you can limit how others (everyone, contacts, etc.) can get in touch with you.

be safe on snapchat - control contact method

2. Turn on login verification

This is an essential Snapchat setting that every individual should focus on. By implementing a login verification protocol, you can add another security layer on your account. In order to hack your account, the perpetrator would need to know the authentication code. To enable this feature, go to your Account Settings > Login Verification. Now, you can provide your phone number to receive OTP on your phone or using a third-party app (like Google Authenticator) to enable the feature.

be safe on snapchat - login verification

3. Change the visibility of your stories

Snapchat stories form the most integral part of the platform. Therefore, you should make sure that only your friends and other known individuals are able to view your stories. To customize this feature, go to Settings > Who can… > View my story and make the relevant selection. You can either make your stories visible to everyone, your friends, or a customized group of people.

be safe on snapchat - story visibility

4. Manage location tracking and other permissions

Just like other social media apps, Snapchat also requires certain permissions in order to run seamlessly. We understand how features like camera or contacts are needed by Snapchat to function. Though, you can always tweak these permissions a bit. Just visit the App Info > Permissions and turn on/off any feature. For instance, you can stop Snapchat from tracking your location by turning the respective option off.

be safe on snapchat - permission settings

5. Don’t make your username or Snapcode public

Your Snapchat username and Snapcode is your identity on the platform. While brands and public figures openly share their Snapcode, you should refrain from doing the same. If you make your username or Snapcode public, then anyone can view your stories (unless you haven’t changed the story settings). While you can create customized Snapcodes through the app, try not to float it around for your own protection.

be safe on snapchat - hide user name and code

6. Hide yourself from the “Quick Add” suggestion

Snapchat has a “Quick Add” feature which works as a friend suggestion. By default, Snapchat can make your profile available in the “Quick Add” section of your contacts that are using the app. If you want to keep your profile private, then you should disable this feature. Go to your profile’s Quick Add settings and disable the option of “Show me in Quick Add”.

be safe on snapchat - hide from quick add

7. Turn on the “Ghost mode”

With the new SnapMap feature of the app, it has become easier than ever to track the real-time location of your friends. Though, a lot of people don’t like this feature as it invades their privacy. If you don’t want to share your location with your friends, then simply open SnapMap and go to its settings.

From here, you can turn on the “Ghost Mode” to stop sharing your location. You can also control with whom your location is shared from here. Furthermore, you can visit your account settings to stop Snapchat from tracking your location altogether.

be safe on snapchat - ghost mode

8. Move your private snaps to “My eyes only”

As you already know, we can save our snaps in the form of “Memories” to view them anytime we want. Though, there are certain private snaps that we don’t want anyone to see. In this case, you can simply move them to “My eyes only” folder. Just visit your snaps and tap on the hamburger icon to save it. Now, move the snap to the “My eyes only” folder in order to lock it.

be safe on snapchat - My eyes only

Apart from implementing these steps, you should follow the basic security protocol on Snapchat. Pay attention to the Snapchat screenshot notifications so that you can get alert whenever anyone would save your snaps. Educate your kids about Snapchat too and make them understand how everything can be permanent on Snapchat. People can record your snaps without being detected. Therefore, one should use Snapchat wisely and with caution.

8 Must-do Steps to Protect Privacy on WhatsApp

Used by over 1.5 billion people, WhatsApp is one of the most popular social messaging apps out there. Currently owned by Facebook, the app supports end-to-end encryption of messages. Even after having a few reliable features, WhatsApp has been accused of data breaches in the past. Therefore, you should follow these expert tips to safeguard your WhatsApp account in minutes.

1. Make your details private

As you know, anyone can message you on WhatsApp if they have your contact number. Therefore, you need to make sure that your personal details are only visible to your saved contacts. Firstly, visit your account settings > privacy to tweak the visibility of your profile. Make sure that your profile photo is only visible to your contacts. You can do the same for your “About” and Status as well.

whatsapp privacy protection - hide your profile

2. Enable two-step verification

A lot of users don’t know, but WhatsApp also supports the two-step verification as well. If you have enabled this feature, then a unique passcode would be needed whenever you would setup your WhatsApp account. Go to WhatsApp Settings > Accounts and tap on “Two step verification”. Enable the feature and note down your password. You can also link your email id to get the passcode as well.

whatsapp privacy protection - complex the verification

3. Double-check the encryption code

By default, WhatsApp supports the end-to-end encryption of all the messages. Nevertheless, there is no harm in making sure that your messages are encrypted or not. To do this, visit the profile of any contact on your WhatsApp. Tap on the “Encryption” option to get a unique code and a barcode. You can scan this code from your friend’s phone or compare the unique code in order to verify end-to-end encryption.

whatsapp privacy protection - encryption code check

4. Turn on Security Notifications

This is another helpful feature in WhatsApp that should be turned on. If the option is enabled, then you will be immediately notified whenever there is a change in the security code for end-to-end encryption. Go to your WhatsApp security settings and enable this feature to further strengthen the security of your account.

whatsapp privacy protection - security notification

5. Disable the cloud backup

To make sure that users don’t lose their WhatsApp chats, the platform allows us to take a backup of our data on iCloud or Google Drive. While the option is pretty convenient, it can tamper with your privacy. If a perpetrator can hack your iCloud or Google account, then they can also access your WhatsApp data. Therefore, we recommend visiting the Chat > Chat Backup settings and turning this feature off.

whatsapp privacy protection - cloud backup turned off

6. Don’t share your WhatsApp data with Facebook

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, it was able to extract its data in order to target specific ads on Facebook. While the feature has been disabled by WhatsApp, you should certainly verify it. When you create your WhatsApp account, read all the terms and conditions carefully and don’t give the app permission to share your data with Facebook. Also, go to your account settings and disable the “Share my account info” option right away.

whatsapp privacy protection - no whatsapp sharing on fb

7. Stop sharing your location with WhatsApp

While WhatsApp certainly needs to access your contacts and storage to function seamless, it certainly doesn’t need to track your location. Simply go to your device’s Settings > Apps > WhatsApp and tap on its App Permissions. From here, you can stop WhatsApp from tracking your location. You can also grant or revoke any other app permission from here as well.

whatsapp privacy protection - no location sharing

8. Beware of common WhatsApp scams

Lately, there have been several WhatsApp scams floating around. For instance, a lot of people receive messages about the expiry of their WhatsApp account and how they need to deposit a small amount to continue using WhatsApp. You should protect yourself from a common scam like this as WhatsApp is a freely available app. Also, don’t click on any link forwarded by your friends that you are not sure of. It could be a scam, a phishing attempt, or even lead to a malware.

whatsapp privacy protection - prevent scams

Furthermore, you should not use the WhatsApp for Web feature as of now. While the feature is pretty convenient as it allows us to access WhatsApp from the web, experts have noticed security vulnerabilities with it. Therefore, you should only use WhatsApp as a mobile app presently until the security concern would be resolved.

6 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn More Private and Secure

LinkedIn is one of the most widely used professional networks that connect people from different domains together. If you are a working professional, then you must be active on LinkedIn as well. With more than 300 million users, the LinkedIn community has certainly grown a lot. Though, it has also suffered from some privacy concerns as well. In order to protect your LinkedIn account, you can follow these steps.

1. Make your connections private

LinkedIn connections are the most important part of the network. Therefore, you should make sure that people are only able to see your mutual connections. You can just go to your Account Settings > Privacy Control and customize the way others see your connections. We recommend making them private to attain more security.

make linkedin secure - private connections

2. Turn on two-factor authentication

Since LinkedIn can have your professional details, it is of utmost importance to turn on the two-factor authentication. Go to its privacy settings and visit the “security” tab. From here, you can provide your phone number and enable the two-factor authentication. This will add a second layer to your account security.

make linkedin secure - linkedin authentication

3. Check all the external applications

Just like any other social networks, LinkedIn can also be linked with third-party applications.  Therefore, it is important to check what all these authorized apps can access from your LinkedIn account. To view this, simply visit the “Applications” tab under LinkedIn Settings. This will display a list of all the third-party authorized apps. You can individually check the permissions given to these apps and revoke any access.

make linkedin secure - check apps

4. Disable data sharing with third-party applications

You might already know that LinkedIn can share your information with the authorized third-party apps. If you don’t want to monitor these permissions with respect to each app, then you can simply disable this feature as well.  To do this, simply visit your account settings and turn off data sharing with third-party applications. We strongly recommend performing this if you wish to protect your privacy on LinkedIn.

make linkedin secure - no data sharing with other apps

5. Manage LinkedIn Plugins

Similar to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn also supports plugins. This means, when you visit a website while being logged-in to LinkedIn, it can access that information. This is an invasion of privacy as LinkedIn can know your interests and later provide personalized ads. Thankfully, you can turn this feature off. Go to your profile’s security settings and click on “Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on third-party sites”. From here, you can disable this feature.

make linkedin secure - plugin settings

6. Make your phone number private

This is a default LinkedIn privacy setting that you should certainly customize. By default, any LinkedIn member with your phone number can contact you. In fact, as soon as someone would save your number, LinkedIn can suggest them to add you. Needless to say, this should be disabled. Go to your LinkedIn privacy settings and decide how people can discover you. Ideally, it should be limited to first or second degree connections.

make linkedin secure - no phone number disclosure

6 Most Useful Tips to Protect E-mail Privacy and Security

After covering all the major social media platforms, let’s learn how we can keep our emails secure and protected. Since our emails can be our lifeline, they should be protected at any cost. Start by following these simple steps.

1. Have a strong and unique password

This is the golden rule that applies to almost all the account passwords. Make sure that you don’t have a kind of password that can easily be guessed by anyone. For instance, you should avoid making your pet’s name, last name, date of birth, etc. as your password. Try to go with a complicated alphanumeric password with the inclusion of some special characters. This will make it harder for hackers to crack your password.

2. Enable two-factor authentication

Enabling the two-factor authentication is a must for your email account. In this way, someone can only hack your account if they know the password as well as the verification code. Whenever someone would try to log-in to your account, they need to provide a unique one-time password that would be sent to your phone. This makes it really hard for anyone to hack your account.

protect email privacy - authentication

3. Monitor the security events

You should make a habit of checking the security events of your account regularly. Most of the mailing services provide a security log that users can access whenever they want. This includes a listing of all the suspicious activities related to the account, past sessions, and more. If you find anything suspicious here then you can change your password and take the needed steps immediately.

protect email privacy - monitor events

4. Don’t use public computers and networks

If you want to make sure that your account won’t be compromised, then avoid public Wifi networks or computers. In most of the cases, their security is not that strong. Also, there could be a receptor installed in the middle, which can store your account credentials.

5. Add a recovery option

It is of utmost importance to have a recovery option for your email. In case if your email is hacked or if you are not able to access it, a recovery option can help you take control of your account again. You can add a secondary email id and phone number in the recovery options of your mail service.

protect email privacy - no use of public network

6. Encrypt your emails

Most importantly, you should check whether a mail has been encrypted or not. Most of the services inform their users and also allow them to encrypt their mails as well. There are also plenty of third-party encrypting services that you can use. This will make sure that your emails won’t be accessed by anyone else, except the sender and the receiver.

protect email privacy - email encryption

5 Tips to Protect from Email Scams That Everyone Should Know

Besides securing your account, you should also use it in a thoughtful manner. Don’t be fooled by scams and never give away your private information (like your bank or credit card details) to someone you don’t trust. Here are some other tips that you should keep in mind.

1. Don’t be fooled by online scams

We all receive emails claiming that we have won a lottery, a new phone, or a free vacation. As tempting as these offers sound, most of them are scams. Soon they will ask for your bank or credit card details to proceed. Needless to say, protect your identity and never revert any of these mails.

2. Don’t click on suspicious links or download attachments

Don’t click on any suspicious link through your mails even if you have got a mail from a trusted source. Chances are that your friend could also be a victim of a malware attack. Just by clicking on a suspicious link, your system can get infected by a malware.

The same thing is applicable for attachments as well. If you are not sure of it, then you should avoid downloading it as it can contain a virus. Most of the times, the service provider flags such emails automatically as well.

eliminate email scam - no click on suspicious links

3. Always check the URL of the page you are visiting

Make sure that you always check the URL of the page so that you don’t be a victim of any phishing attack. Just because it appears like the log-in page of your mailing service, it doesn’t mean that it is an authentic page. A hacker can design a page that might look identical to the sign-in page of your email service. Though, when you would check its URL, you can easily see the difference. There can be an extra hyphen, a spelling mistake, or an entirely different domain.

eliminate email scam - check url

4. Prefer a secure connection

In order to protect your privacy, always prefer a secure connection. The usual HTTP protocol is not so secure and can easily be infiltrated. When you are browsing the web, look for the “Https” protocol. It is listed before the URL of the website. An HTTPS protocol would mean that your data would be protected.

eliminate email scam - secure connection preferred

5. Never enter your personal information on pop-ups

While browsing the web, you might get unwanted pop-ups. Some of these pop-ups might seem like any other legit website. Though, you should always avoid providing your account details to these pop-ups. Most likely, it would be a phishing attack that can access your account information. Be vigilant and browse the web in a secure manner.

10 Tips to Protect Your Home Wi-Fi from Hackers

A home Wi-Fi network should always be protected from any perpetrator. After all, it connects our phones, laptops, and other smart devices. In order to protect your home Wi-Fi network you can simply follow these quick steps.

1. Change the name of your network

To begin with, simply change the name and SSID (Service Set Identifier) of your network. By displaying the type of router you have, you are already giving an advantage to the hackers. Also, don’t include personal information like your name or birth date as the Wifi name. Try to be more discrete and hard to identify.

2. Consider the location of the router

Ideally, your router should be placed at the center of the house. Some people make the rookie mistake of placing the router outside the house. This should always be avoided as anyone can access your router, reset it, and change its settings this way. Make sure that all the devices are in perfect range of the network and that the router is visible all the time.

3. Set up a strong admin password

It has been observed that a lot of people don’t even consider changing the default credentials of their network. Ideally, you should keep changing the password of not only your Wi-Fi network but also the router as well. Also, have a strong and unique password that others can’t guess so easily.

4. Enable the network encryption

All the network routers provide different encryption techniques. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) are the two most reliable encryption protocols. Out of them, WPA-2 is the industry standard that is mostly recommended. You can enable it by visiting the security settings on your network account. The option is also provided while setting up a new network. Afterward, all the data would be encrypted so that a perpetrator can’t access it easily.

protect home wifi - network encryption

5. Turn on the router’s native firewall

Most of the routers also provide a native firewall feature to keep malware and security attacks at bay. You can simply go to the router settings and enable the native firewall. Besides that, some advanced routers also come with a stealth mode that can limit the visibility of your network.

protect home wifi - router firewall

6. Change the default IP address and DNS server

If you want to make your home Wi-Fi network hack-proof, then you should certainly take this step. By changing the default IP address and DNS server, you can filter the internet traffic and secure your network at the same time. To do this, you need to go to your network’s advanced settings and manually provide a new (and working) IP address and server.

protect home wifi - change the ip or dns

7. Disable the DHCP feature

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) assigns dynamic IP addresses to the connected devices by the router. While the feature is convenient, it can make it harder for you to detect a perpetrator. Therefore, you should disable this feature and assign static IP addresses to the connected devices. While it might seem like a tedious job, it is certainly worth it.

protect home wifi - disable dhcp

8. Turn off remote access on your router

These days, routers come with an advanced feature of remote access. This allows us to access the router settings remotely. While the feature was added to troubleshoot a network issue remotely, it can backfire at times. A hacker can remotely access the settings on your router as well. Therefore, you can just go to the administrator settings of the router and turn off remote access (or remote management).

protect home wifi - turn off remote access

9. Disable UPnP

The Universal Plug and Play protocol makes it easier for other devices to be connected to your network instantly. Though, the feature can make your network vulnerable to threats as well. Just go to your router’s administrator settings and disable the UPnP feature to strengthen its security.

protect home wifi - upnp settings

10. Enable network logging

All the routers also come with a feature to maintain an extensive log. When logging is turned on, your router will maintain extensive details for all the connected IPs (and the IPs that requested a connection as well). By checking the network log, you can easily identify a malicious attack and protect your network. Just go to your network settings and access its log to view the recent activity.

protect home wifi - network logging

Furthermore, you should also keep the router software and the network drivers up to date. This will strengthen your network and will make sure that it won’t be vulnerable to any malicious attack.

10 Tips to Help You Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Network

From cafés to metro stations, we all use public Wi-Fi networks on an everyday basis. It might surprise you, but more than 80% of users are willing to take risk related to their personal information just to access free Wi-Fi. While it might seem convenient at that time, a public Wi-Fi can be a source of a malware or security attack. It is recommended to take some essential steps to stay safe while using a public Wi-Fi network.

1. Pick the network wisely

Before you connect to any public Wi-Fi network, make sure it is secure. Your device will provide a quick glimpse of the network status so that you can know about its security beforehand. Ideally, if it is an unsecured network, then you should avoid connecting your device to it.

protect privacy on public wifi - pick secure network

2. Diagnose the connection thoroughly

While browsing the web through a public network, you should never let your guard down. Check the security status of every website you visit carefully. Simply click on the security report, which is located right before the URL of the website. Here, you can know the type of connection, the cookies used, and all the permissions that are granted to it.

protect privacy on public wifi - diagnose the connection

3. Disable file sharing, AirDrop, and Bluetooth

When you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network, make sure that the file sharing is turned off. Simply go to your system’s network settings > sharing options and turn off the file sharing feature. If you use a Mac, then you should turn off AirDrop as well.  Besides that, you should also turn off the Bluetooth on your device too in order to keep it less accessible.

protect privacy on public wifi - turn off not safe options

4. Use a privacy protection browser extension

Almost all the browsers support different kinds of plugins and extensions. If you use public Wi-Fi networks quite frequently, then you should use a privacy protection browser extension as well. Most of these extensions are freely available and works pretty well. For instance, the Microsoft Defender browser extension is available for free and provides a real-time online security while browsing the web.

protect privacy on public wifi - protection extension

5. Enable HTTPS Everywhere

As you know, HTTPS is the secure version of the HTTP protocol. Although most of the reliable websites follow the HTTPS protocol, there are some portals that haven’t upgraded their security. Though, with the help of a third-party service, you can make your entire browsing experience more secure. The HTTPS Everywhere Google Chrome extension and Firefox add-on by EFE can make it happen by adding an extra layer of security to the browser.

protect privacy on public wifi - use https

6. Use a Virtual Private Network

This is an essential step that every user of public Wi-Fi network should implement. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will hide your actual location while browsing the web. Furthermore, it can automatically detect and block various kinds of malware and security threats as well. You can select any other location to mask the actual IP address of your system. While Windows provides a feature to create a VPN, you can use a third-party VPN to get better results as well.

protect privacy on public wifi - use vpn

7. Don’t share your private information

When you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network, you should never share any sensitive or private information. This includes your credit card or banking detail, social security number, or any other piece of crucial information. You should also not shop online through a public Wi-Fi as your credit card details could be used during the transaction.

8. Read the network policy carefully

A lot of public Wi-Fi networks maintain a log of all the activity with respect to the connected device (IP address). Therefore, you should carefully read the network policy of the Wi-Fi owner. A while back, McDonald’s got into trouble as well for setting time limits of its users for Wi-Fi access. A lot of other companies restrict and even spy on the user data when they are using their Wi-Fi. To avoid this, read the fine prints in the policy beforehand.

9. Use a third-party security tool

There is nothing wrong with using a dedicated third-party security tool that can provide a real-time protection to your system. The online security application provided by players like McAfee, Avast, Avira, AVG, and Kaspersky are considered the best. In this way, if a website is not secure, then you would be alarmed beforehand.

protect privacy on public wifi - use security tool

10. Clear the cookies after using the network

Most importantly, when you have stopped using the public Wi-Fi network, you should clear the cookies from your system. This is because while accessing the public network, your system would have hosted any malicious cookie or a tracker. Simply go to your browser’s settings and remove the recent cookies to make sure that your privacy won’t be invaded by any tracker.

protect privacy on public wifi - clear cookies

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Accounts Safe & Secure

We all have our accounts on numerous online portals. Most of the times, we even forget after making an account and it simply stays there, being vulnerable to a threat. Therefore, if you wish to acquire a 360-degree protection, then consider following these expert suggestions right away.

1. Use a secret email ID

If your primary email id is public, then you should consider making a secondary email. Instead of using your primary id, use the other one to create your online accounts. In this way, no one would be able to guess your email id and can’t attempt a hack as well.

2. Don’t link all your accounts

Almost all the platforms out there give us an option to link our Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular accounts. You should always avoid this practice. Not only will they have an access to your accounts, but can also track your browsing activity as well. Try to keep your accounts private and separate from each other.

3. Use a password manager and enable 2-factor authentication

There are a few reliable password managers that you can use to make your online accounts more secure. For instance, Google Authenticator is quite useful and will make it harder for anyone to hack your accounts. Besides that, you should also enable a two-factor authentication on your account to add another layer of security.

make online account safe - password manager

4. Check all the third-party apps

We often give permissions to numerous third-party apps to access our data via various online accounts. Too many times, these apps and plugins can access a lot of unwanted information and start tracking our browsing history. This can invade your privacy and even tamper with your security. Therefore, you should only link reliable third-party apps and give them restricted permissions.

5. Don’t share your details with others

Needless to say, you should not share any personal or sensitive information about your online accounts in the public. Most importantly, you should never share the details about your bank, credit card, and other payment options. Even if you are drafting a mail with your account details, make sure that it is encrypted.

6. Protect the password resets

A lot of online platforms also provide the option to protect the password reset. In this case, even if someone has hacked your account, they won’t be able to reset the password so easily. Go to your account settings, look for a similar feature like this, and enable it as soon as possible.

make online account safe - protect password resets

7. Read the terms and conditions carefully

Before joining any online platform, you should carefully read all the terms and conditions. In particular, you should thoroughly read the privacy policy of the company and how they will handle your PII (Personal Identifiable Information). Also, check whether they use any tracker or not. Read the fine prints carefully and don’t agree to anything you don’t trust.

8. Track the activity logs

As stated previously, it is of utmost importance to keep a track of all the major activities related to your online account. Almost all the online platforms provide a feature of activity or security log. Keep visiting it frequently and look for any malicious or suspicious activity. If you think your account is being compromised, then change its password immediately.

9. Set up unique security questions

The security questions are important to change a password or access any crucial detail on the platform. If possible, come up with your own security questions and don’t leave any hint. You can also have multiple security questions as well to protect your account. It is recommended to include the kind of security questions that no one can answer except you.

make online account safe - security questions

10. Delete the inactive accounts

Most importantly, if there are any online accounts that you no longer use – then simply get rid of them. Just log-in to these platforms once and delete them for good. A dormant account might not be in use, but it can have crucial details about you that should not be accessed by anyone else. Always maintain active and limited accounts to protect your data and identity.

make online account safe - remove idle accounts

10 Tips to Ensure Safer Password Protection

When it comes to online security, there is nothing more important than our passwords. After all, they are the first line of defense against any perpetrator. Needless to say, you should take every security measure to keep your passwords safe. These expert suggestions will further help you with your password protection.

1. Check the password strength

While setting up a password for any online account, you would get an indication of its strength. Make sure that the password you are using is strong enough. If the portal doesn’t provide the password’s strength, then you can always use a dedicated website that can help you determine the strength of your password. Some websites can even suggest you strong randomly generated passwords.

safer password - check password complexity

2. Don’t repeat your passwords

Almost all of us have been guilty of using the same password for various platforms. This is a grave mistake that you should never make. If someone is able to hack your password, they can control all your accounts in one go. Keep unique and strong passwords for your accounts and never repeat them.

3. Set strong alphanumeric passwords

The stronger the password it, the harder it would be to crack. Experts recommend using a long password, which should be more than 8 characters long at least. Also, it should be a mix of numbers, special symbols, and characters in upper and lower case. You can also break your password in different parts so that you can remember them easily.

4. Don’t let your browser save your passwords

To make it easier for users to access their accounts, browsers and third-party services (like Google) offer an auto-save of passwords as well. Whenever you would enter your password, your browser will ask you to save it. You should always avoid this. In this way, anyone can know your passwords by simply accessing your browser. Also, go to its saved passwords and manually delete all the account details that are already saved by your browser.

safer password - do not save password in browser

5. Use a password manager

There are also various password managers that you can use on your phone or system. Some reliable password managers are LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, Keeper, and Avast password manager. These tools will make it easier for you to remember your passwords while keeping them safe at the same time.

6.  Keep a check on keyloggers and malwares

One of the easiest ways to hack someone’s password is by using keyloggers. These are dedicated tools that can be installed on any smartphone or computer. They maintain a log of every keystroke made on the device, including the user account details and passwords. Later, a hacker can simply view the keylog and access your passwords. Therefore, you should keep a check on your devices for the presence of any keylogger. Use anti-malware applications that can detect a keylogger instantly.

7. Don’t enter your passwords in public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks have a reputation of storing the account details of various users. Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to manually enter any password when you are using a public Wi-Fi. If you are accessing a public Wi-Fi, then prefer adding a layer of VPN before entering your passwords. Also, changing an account password while being connected to a public Wi-Fi should be avoided.

8. Set up unique passwords that you can remember

A lot of times, while setting up a unique password, we end up forgetting it. Therefore, you should follow some tips and tricks to create unique yet strong passwords that you can remember. Don’t include your birthdates, name, or any personal details in your passwords. You can always use a catchphrase to create a password. Like “to be or not to be” can be used as “2b_o||r_n02bee”. Some people also make patterns on the keyboard while setting up a password.

9. Don’t maintain a tip sheet of your passwords

These days, we have accounts on countless platforms and remembering unique passwords for all of them can be tough. To resolve this, a lot of people prefer writing their passwords in their notes, word documents, and so on. This is something that should always be avoided. If someone gets a hold of your notes, then they can automatically access all your accounts as well. Instead of simply writing them down like this, use a password manager to keep your passwords safe and easily accessible.

10. Log out of accounts

Lastly, you should not leave your accounts signed-in. Make sure that you always log out of your accounts to protect them. Whether it is a public computer or your working system, you should never leave your accounts logged-in.

8 Tips for Protecting Browser Privacy and Managing Browser Cookies

With almost every year, there are new threats and security concerns about online privacy. Mostly, browser privacy is invaded by the use of cookies and other plugins. As a user, you should have a complete control over your browsing experience.

In 2017, more than 79 million unique URLs were flagged for malicious activities and over 400 million security threats were discovered in 190 countries. Even reliable sources like Google Play Store have been known for hosting malicious apps. Therefore, you need to be alert while browsing the web on your computer and your device in order to protect your privacy.

1. Use an ad blocker

This is the golden rule of browsing the web safely in today’s world. While browsing, you must have experienced numerous ads and unwanted pop-ups. It might surprise you, but most of these ads are personalized and are displayed after tracking the user. In order to protect your privacy, you should use an ad blocker. There are plenty of ad blocker extensions and add-ons that you can simply include in your browser for free.

keep browser safe - block ads

2. Disable Flash and ActiveX

While Flash and Active X help us have a smoother browsing experience, they can also tamper with our privacy. It has been observed that a lot of malware attacks are associated with Flash and even Javascript. To avoid these security threats, visit your browser settings and disable the Flash and Active X content.

keep browser safe - turn off flash

3. Visit the security settings of your browser

In order to customize your browsing experience, you should visit the security settings of your browser. While different browsers have their own settings, most of them imply the same. From here, you can level up the overall security level of the browser and even block certain restricted content. You can turn on the automatic block of suspicious content and enable real-time alerts for numerous features.

keep browser safe - security settings

4. Monitor your downloads

Most of the malicious attacks happen when a malware is downloaded to the computer (or a phone) through the browser. Besides accessing your emails carefully, you should also control how any file is being downloaded on your system. Sometimes, by simply visiting a link, a malware can be downloaded. To avoid this, visit your browser settings and enable the real-time alerts for downloads.

keep browser safe - monitor downloads

5. Stop websites from tracking you

You might already know that almost all the major websites out there track us. For instance, even a reliable company like Google tracks its users to target personalized ads. Though, if you want, you can stop them from tracking your moves. There are numerous third-party tools like Ghostery and Disconnect that can help you do the same. Most of the browsers also provide a tracking protection. Just visit the browser settings and turn on the “Do not track” feature to protect yourself.

keep browser safe - stop tracking

6. Block third-party cookies

Essentially, website cookies are stored on our system that tracks our browsing details. There are either first-party or third-party cookies. Most of the third-party cookies track our data and should be blocked. You can do this by visiting your browser’s settings and blocking the third-party cookies.

keep browser safe - block cookies

7. Manage the installed plugins

Besides cookies, certain plugins can also lead to a malicious attack. Therefore, you should carefully choose the plugins that are added to your browser and should monitor them as well. The best way to do this is by visiting your browser settings and controlling when to run a plugin manually.

keep browser safe - plugin settings

8. Delete cookies and browsing history regularly

If you don’t want anyone else to track your browsing history, then you should make a habit of removing it regularly. Apart from the browsing history, you should also delete cookies, cache data, and other vital details from your system. All you need to do is visit the settings on your browser and manually remove the browsing data for a specific duration. Do this regularly to protect your privacy.

keep browser safe - clear browser history

10 Most Useful Tips for Safer Online Shopping

Already millions of people shop for goods and services online. It might not surprise you, but by 2020, the number might surpass 2 billion online shoppers. While it might seem like a convenient way to shop, it has its own drawbacks. The number of online shopping frauds and scams are also at a record high. From being tricked to buy something else to getting their money ripped, some online shopping stories might give you nightmares. In order to be a wise online shopper, consider following these tips.

1. Only shop from reputed websites

If you are an avid shopper, then you must be familiar with the plethora of shopping portals out there. Needless to say, you should not trust on any new and unfamiliar platform. Make sure that you are buying goods from a reputed e-commerce company. Also, check the review of the products you are interested in for a better purchase.

2. Don’t visit a website via mails or messages

A lot of people receive emails and messages about discounts, reward points, and so on. Even if you have got a message from a trusted source, you should not visit it. While the URL might seem legit, it can be redirected to a malicious page.

Even if you have got a mail from the e-commerce website, check the email id and carefully examine the mail. It can lead to a phishing attack as well. Always open a new tab on the browser and manually enter the URL of the website to avoid any security threat.

protect shopping privacy - no visit via mail or msg links

3. Check the security status of the website

You should make sure that the website is using HTTPS and SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Also, quickly check the security report of the website and check the cookies it is using. If you are being redirected to a third-party payment gateway, then you should be extremely cautious as well. Make sure that it is a reputed payment gateway that is being authorized by your bank.

4. Don’t fall for tricks and scams

E-commerce scams are not new. Though, they have certainly evolved a lot in the last few years. From text messages to even phone calls, there are all sorts of ways to get scammed. If it seems too good to be true, then chances are that it might be a scam. For instance, the Amazon free gift voucher scam is probably one of the biggest frauds related to online shopping. Don’t let your guard down and never fall for such tricks.

protect shopping privacy - stop in front of tricks or scams

5. Use a secret account

This expert suggestion will certainly help you protect your privacy while shopping like a pro. Instead of using your primary email, create a secondary account, and use it specifically for online shopping. Not only will you get the benefits of creating a new account, you can also keep it discrete and protected.

6. Consider having a secondary credit card

Just like a separate account, you can also consider having a secondary credit card as well for online shopping. Instead of your primary credit card, get another card particularly for online shopping. Also, make sure that it has a restricted limit so that you won’t overspend. In this way, you won’t have to worry about getting your credit card details leaked.

7. Buy from reliable apps instead of websites

Experts don’t recommend shopping from a website. This is because the chances of getting scammed or getting your data leaked are more on a website. Instead, use a mobile app to shop. Apps are usually more secure than websites as they are developed by the e-commerce company after a security check. Just visit the App Store and download a genuine app. Check the developer of the app and its reviews before making any purchase.

protect shopping privacy - shopping from reliable apps

8. Monitor the app permissions

Even if you are using a genuine app, chances are that it might invade your privacy. For instance, an e-commerce app doesn’t need to monitor your location or access your camera, right? While installing the app, you can simply control the access it can have on your phone. Furthermore, you can visit the app settings on your device and grant or revoke any permission from here. Make sure that the app is not able to track your location, access your phone’s camera, and other unnecessary features.

protect shopping privacy - app permission

9. Don’t give too much information or connect your social media

Online shopping platforms are getting more social day by day. To provide a personalized experience to its customers, they ask for a lot of unwanted information. You should always restrict giving away unnecessary details to any e-commerce platform.

Also, some platforms might ask you to connect your social media as well. This can help you share your shopping experience with your friends and earn reward points. Don’t fall for this trap and never connect your social media platforms with a shopping app.

protect shopping privacy - give limited info

10. Implement basic internet security tips

Most importantly, follow all the basic security tips while shopping online. Since these platforms can have your payment details, you should use a strong password and enable two-factor notification. Sometimes, online shopping websites can save your card and payment detail as well. Go to your payment options and delete the saved details to protect any malicious attack.

protect shopping privacy - follow basic security instructions

10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Ransomware, Malware, and Spyware

There are all kinds of malware, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious attacks that can tamper with our security. In order to prevent yourself from these attacks, you should first know how they work.

  • A malware is any malicious software, program, or file that can harm your system. It disrupts or damages the ideal functioning of a device. A malware can be a virus, worm, Trojan horse, adware, or any other kind of malicious program.
  • A spyware is a program that gathers information about the owner of the device. The information is collected and is transferred to its server. It tracks various activities of the user and is often considered illegal.
  • A ransomware is one of the most dreadful kinds of programs. It can block certain files or the entire access to a system until a certain amount of money (ransom) is paid to the hacker.
be protected from malicious software - malware, spyware, and ransomware

Any individual can become a victim of these malicious attacks in different ways. From file sharing to accessing the web, there are all kinds of ways a malware can infect your system.

be protected from malicious software - how malware attacks

Their frequency has also been increased a lot in the last few years. The presence of ransomware has seen a 90% increase in a single year. Today, thousands of businesses and millions of people have been their victim. If you want to stay safe, then prefer implementing these suggestions.

1. Maintain a second copy of your data

If you don’t want to lose your important files due to a malware or ransomware attack, then you need to maintain its second copy. If you have enough space on your Google Drive or iCloud account, then you can sync your data to the cloud. Furthermore, you can copy it to a secondary storage unit as well (like an external hard drive).

2. Don’t delay any security update

All the leading operating systems keep sending regular security updates and patches. You can enable the automatic update feature on your phones and computers to keep them up to date. Furthermore, you should also update all the major tools and software installed on your computer as well. Try to keep your mobile apps updated as well to attain a complete security on all the leading devices you use.

be protected from malicious software - security updates

3. Use a reliable security tool

Besides using a system’s native firewall, you can also use a reliable third-party tool as well. There are plenty of security tools from reputed names like Avast, AVG, McAfee, Kaspersky, etc. that you can use. Make sure that you have enabled the real-time tracking of the system. Also, embed them with your browser to be notified for any suspicious link. Additionally, turn on the native firewall on your system as well to keep it protected.

4. Keep a check on all the authorized devices

Too often, we connect numerous devices together for an easy data access. Though, it can backfire at times as well. If a perpetrator would get a hold of one device, they can infiltrate the connected devices as well. Go to your account and check all the connected devices. Try not to connect a lot of devices together and disconnect any suspicious or inactive device.

be protected from malicious software - check authorized devices

5. Don’t click on suspicious links

Most of the malware and ransomware attacks are initiated through link forwarding. If you want to protect your system then make sure you never visit a suspicious URL. All it takes is a single click for your device or system to be infected. Enter the exact URL of the website you wish to visit and don’t fall into traps.

6. Turn off file sharing and remote access

If we have learned anything from the past ransomware attacks is that we should also turn off the file sharing in our system. Sometimes, even without connecting to the internet, your system can get infected via file sharing in a network. Furthermore, a remote access can also tamper with your security by allowing someone else to take control of your system. Go to your Mac or Windows settings and turn off the file sharing and remote access.

be protected from malicious software - disable remote access

7. Don’t give away your personal details

Sometimes, people end up sharing their personal details on calls, emails, messages, or any other medium. By acquiring your personal information, it becomes easier for hackers to infiltrate your system and exploit its vulnerability. Try to maintain a low profile online as well and have a limited visibility of your private details.

8. Look for signs of a spyware

If you observe wisely, then you can easily detect whether your system or device has been infected by a spyware or not. Here are some of the common signs that are associated with the presence of spyware on a device.

  • Sudden battery drain
  • Unexpected surge of network data
  • Overheating of the device
  • Device hangs or stops working out of the blue
  • Unexplained behavior of the system
  • Background noises while making a call
  • Electronic distortion on surrounding devices
  • Getting strange messages with encrypted texts
be protected from malicious software - be cautious of spyware signs

If you get these signs on your device, then be alarmed. Restore it entirely or use an anti-spyware tool in order to get rid of any malicious program.

9. Encrypt your data

Another way to keep your data safe is by encrypting it. There are all kinds of native and third-party tools available that can help you do the same. Both, Windows and Mac provide a hassle-free way to encrypt the entire disk. Besides that, you can use a third-party tool as well to add another layer of security on your data. In this way, your data won’t be affected by malware or ransomware attacks.

10. Use a secondary account with limited privileges

As stated previously, you should not use an administrator account on your system for an everyday use. Instead, go to its settings and set up a secondary account. This will launch a wizard to create a new account. From here, you can provide limited privileges to the account. Afterward, use the secondary account to perform you everyday activities. In this way, even if the account is compromised by a hacker, they won’t be able to make any crucial changes in your system.

be protected from malicious software - secondary account

10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Each year, millions of people suffer from identity theft. Not just adults, even children suffer from this growing problem. Over $2 billion is lost per year due to identity theft in the world. From credit card scams to loans, identity theft has made its way in almost every sector.

If you don’t protect your identity, then someone else might take advantage of it. By pretending to be you, they might shop extravagantly or even commit a crime. Since they have stolen your identity, the blame will be on you. Therefore, you should take the necessary steps to safeguard your identity. Here are some surefire ways that can help you protect yourself from identity theft.

1. Keep your social media accounts private

Follow this golden rule if you don’t want anyone to invade your privacy. Almost all the social media platforms out there are known for their unreliable functioning. A lot of people perform social engineering and actively use these platforms to steal someone’s identity. To avoid this, you should make all these platforms private. Change the visibility of your content and only allow limited people to contact you.

protect your identity - privacy on social media

2. Don’t disclose your details over calls or mails

You should never disclose your crucial details like bank account information, social security number, credit card info, etc. to anyone. Even if they say that they are representing your bank, you should resist sharing your details. If they are calling from a reliable source, then they would already have an access to your information. Keep your personal details to yourself in order to avoid identity theft.

3. Keep your online shopping accounts safe

Identity theft through online shopping portals is not a new thing. Though, in the last year, it has seen a rapid increase of 23%, which is certainly quite alarming. Follow the above listed suggestions to keep your online shopping accounts safe. Enable two-factor notifications, use a secondary credit card, sign-in with a secret email id, and make sure your credit card details are not saved while shopping.

4. Protect the identity of others as well

Besides protecting your own identity, you should make sure that no one can steal identity of your family and friends as well. It has been observed that even the identity of kids and deceased individuals can be stolen. If you have lost a loved one, then obtain a death certificate from the respective government body. Also, keep the information of your kids (like their social security number) safe to protect them from an identity theft at such an early age.

5. Freeze your accounts

If there is a bank account that is no longer active, then you should consider freezing it. In this way, you don’t have to worry about protecting one more dormant account. Simply get in touch with your bank representatives and put a temporary freeze on it. Later, you can lift it whenever you want.

6. Set limits on your credit cards and account transactions

It is always recommended to have limitations of your cards and other banking transactions. There should be a feasible monthly limit on your credit cards that you can work with. Also, make sure the daily withdrawal limit on your bank account is set. Besides that, you should set limits on various payment applications and mobile wallets as well. For instance, if you use PayPal, then visit its settings and set up the desired withdrawal limit.

protect your identity - limit credit card transactions

7. Get account alerts on your phone and emails

This is a must thing to do in the present days. You should link your phone number with your bank account, credit card, and other payment applications. In this way, you would be instantly notified for any transaction. Also, you can use a mobile app of the bank as well to view the account activity on a regular basis. Though, you can do the same with mobile banking and SMS alerts as well.

protect your identity - get account alerts

8. Inform your bank before going on a vacation

This is a rookie mistake that you should certainly avoid making. If you are going on a vacation overseas for a long period, then you might not have an instant access to every resource. A perpetrator might take advantage of it and try to access your account in your absence. Therefore, if you go on a long vacation abroad, then make a note to inform your bank beforehand.

9. Get rid of the information you no longer need

If you wish to protect yourself from identity theft, then get rid of any sensitive information you no longer need. Shred all the important documents that have your personal details and are no longer important. This includes old receipt, bills, transaction details, and so on.

In addition to that, you should also get rid of any crucial data on your smartphone and computer as well. There are dedicated data eraser tools that can help you get rid of your personal details with no scope of recovery.

10. Develop a contingency plan

Last, but most importantly – you should always know how you are going to handle an unwanted situation like this. Make sure that you have the contact details of your bank and the related authorities that can help you.

File a complaint regarding identity theft to the police and also inform your close friends and family about it. Change the passwords and PINs of your accounts, cards, and other important things. Take every necessary step as soon as you can to prevent any further damage.

protect your identity - contingency plan

There you go!

Now when you know all the essential details about keeping your privacy safe, you can certainly attain a complete protection. From protecting your devices and computers to securing your social media accounts, we have covered it all in this guide.

Even though you have never been a victim of data breach or identity theft, you should certainly follow these suggestions. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry, right? Stay proactive and alert, and take all the necessary steps to protect your privacy. Furthermore, share this guide with your friends and family as well so that they can stay safe and protected as well.

James Davis

staff Editor

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