It’s the end of 2021, and data privacy has never been more important than it is today. While the very next Data Privacy Day is just around the corner, it’s a perfect moment to remember that every internet user can take more control of their privacy. After all, your data and digital identity are valuable, and you should learn to cherish them. And, in some cases, force others to do the same.
Whether it’s marketers, advertisers, businesses, ISPs, government agencies, or cybercriminals, all of them can earn profit from your data. Once they have it, there’s no way to tell what it’s being used for, whether it’s kept safe, who they’ll share it with, and so on.
Your data could be used for election influencing, service denials, employment discrimination, price discrimination, and a wide range of other insidious practices. Thankfully, there are certain things you can do to protect your data and browse the web safely.
1. Watch out for those supercookies
If you aren’t familiar with supercookies, it’s time to get up to date. These bits of data are stored on your internet-enabled devices by third parties, like advertising networks, among many others.
While there are similarities with more well-known tracking cookies, supercookies can’t be easily deleted and are much harder to handle because of the migrating nature that allows them to reside in various places.
Third parties inject supercookies into your browser to gather your unique personal and private data like your online activity, behavior, IP address, location, device, browser version, identity, etc. More importantly, supercookies can gather your data from multiple websites, creating a highly detailed profile regarding your data.
Since you can’t simply delete them or get rid of them by clearing your cache, supercookies are yet to play a vital role in the future of data collection. Fortunately, newer versions of popular browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, offer new protections against supercookies, such as blocking supercookie tracking.
2. Prevent your ISP from meddling in your online activities
Your internet service provider (ISP) is directly in charge of your internet connection. They are the ones that allow your internet traffic to take place on the web. That means your ISP has access to the information about the devices you use to go online, your location, your IP address, the sites you visit, the time you spend visiting them, and everything else you do when you go online.
ISPs use your data to create a detailed user profile about you that they can share with third parties on demand, such as ad placing companies and government agencies. If you think that using an incognito mode to go online will protect you from ISP tracking, think again.
Aside from tracking and monitoring your online activities, ISPs can also throttle your internet connection to manage the load during high traffic peaks. However, it might happen because you engage in bandwidth-heavy activities or visit websites that ISPs have decided to load slower. Thus, throttling and traffic prioritization are issues thousands of users battle. One of the ways to prevent such practices is to use a Virtual Private Network.
A VPN tool like Atlas VPN encrypts your online traffic, thus preventing ISPs from accessing your browsing activities and collecting your personal and online information. It can also mask your IP and hide your location to give you access to geo-restricted content that is otherwise unavailable in your location. Thus, it is a practical tool for any internet user.
3. Keep your email identity private
Your email address is also an excellent asset for collecting your data. The reason for this is quite simple. While most internet users have only one or two email addresses, they use them for connecting multiple online accounts.
Since each email address has a unique owner, your email identity is all third parties need to connect all your online activities to one online profile. Fortunately, many different solutions, such as Firefox Relay, can protect your email, and make it more private, safer, and secure. Additionally, you can create burner identities to protect your inbox and data.
4. Use various search engines
Even though Google is the most popular search engine of them all, it tracks your online activities in a similar manner to that of your ISP. If you don’t want your online activities tracked, use anonymous search engines to ensure an increased level of privacy online.
Anonymous search engines don’t gather your data or track your online activities, and they delete cookies after each browsing session. Moreover, anonymous search engines can also block cookies and trackers with the intent to gather your data.
To conclude, let’s give you a couple of tips more to protect your privacy online:
Keep your internet-enabled devices and apps up to date. Also, use only HTTPS links to avoid unsecured websites. Do not forget to turn off your location to avoid third-party tracking. Keep your email and social media accounts private. Always clear your browsing history after using a shared device. Be sure to log out of your accounts. And, of course, create strong and unique passwords for each online account.
These practices should help you improve your data privacy while browsing the web.