Privacy in the digital space is one of the most vital concerns that netizens face today. In the age of modern browsers, protecting one’s confidentiality and surfing the web privately has become exponentially challenging.
Most of our online activities are by default monitored by either government or big corporations to profile us and analyze our behavior. Companies can get their hands on all our private searches by merely collecting cookies, browsing history, and unique IP addresses using cross-site trackers. As a result, a solid privacy practice is the absolute need of every internet user.
This article explores how you can configure your computer systems to accomplish maximum privacy in the digital domain.
Things to Consider for Browsing Privately
The right to privacy is a standard legal concept globally accepted in over 150 nations. On the other hand, the right to anonymity is not defined clearly and doesn’t have similar legal protections. For this reason, this guide will focus on the essential privacy measures you can apply immediately.
These three types of data are at risk when you browse using a modern browser like Chrome, Safari, or Edge.
Most browsers don’t have automatic cookie deletion enabled by default. As a result, cross-site social media trackers can easily read the cookies, leading to the violation of your privacy.
Only advanced users delete their browsing history periodically. This recorded data gets used to profile a user on the internet.
- IP Addresses
To uniquely identify a user on the internet, one can use IP addresses. IPs can reveal the geolocation of a person. Google’s location service can access any Wi-Fi routers nearby if you connect to surf the internet without masking your IP address.
Preventing Your Browser From Reducing Your Privacy
Here are actionable strategies to prevent Chrome or any modern browser from tracking your sessions and storing uniquely identifiable user data:
- Incognito Mode
When you use a shared computer, switch to incognito mode. This setting removes your browsing history as soon as you terminate the session. Nonetheless, your bookmarks remain in the browser’s storage, so ensure you leave none on somebody else’s computer.
- Guest Mode
Using guest mode allows you to access the internet through a different user profile. This approach is especially advantageous when you surf the internet in a cybercafé or shared computer. Again, transfer any downloaded file, such as document, image, etc., to your personal storage after every session.
- Auto-Delete Cookies
A standard browser’s default configuration doesn’t delete cookies automatically. As a result, you should remove them manually on your PC by going into the browser’s privacy configurations. In the settings, you can also set Chrome to reject third-party cookies. Additionally, you can install cookie-auto delete extensions to automate the process.
- Removing History After Each Session
After each browsing session, erasing your history can be a demanding task. Instead, clean the history periodically, i.e., weekly or monthly. You can also use the incognito mode by default on your favorite browser.
- Install Tracker Blocking Software
You should install browser extensions like uBlock Origin to block trackers on your browser. You can also switch to more privacy-friendly Chromium-based browsers like Brave or Vivaldi, well-equipped with tracker blocking functionality.
- Use a Premium and Encrypted Proxy
Finally, you should invest in a suitable encrypted proxy for masking your geolocation or IP address. A premium proxy can help you mitigate the quality problems of a free one and provide better security with encryption. Moreover, IPs from a static residential proxy provider can be a better choice than VPNs, as noteworthy ISPs supply these IP addresses, making it difficult to identify you as a proxy user. So, what are static proxies useful for? To partially anonymize your activities, providing protection against location tracking.
What do third parties use the data for?
Using history, cookies, user preferences, and third parties such as advertisers, websites, and browsers, create a profile that tracks your online activities. This includes download history, ads you click on, general browsing, and shopping habits.
Targeted advertising is created through this profile. Ads and recommendations of specific websites while browsing are targeted marketing solutions for various organizations. Facebook and Google are known to track users’ online activities and target them with advertisements of their interest.
In addition, your online habits, data, and IP address are also visible to ISPs and government agencies. Although the purpose of this form of information gathering is to prevent and solve crimes, both internationally and domestically, it is not limited to looking at suspected criminals. Most countries force ISPs to disclose user data such as your daily online habits, bandwidth usage, emails, and history of sites visited.
If your information goes to cyber criminals, then the chances of becoming a victim of phishing, financial fraud, and identity theft increase. For example, hackers can steal bank details and eat your money, mostly through fraudulent online purchases.
Use Advanced Authentication to Upgrade Your Online Privacy
More robust security barriers can prevent privacy attacks, fraud, and identity theft. Let’s discuss some ways to secure services and devices:
Enable Two-factor Authentication
When you enable two-factor authentication for an account, it asks for biometric data or a password every time you log in from a new location, making it harder for a hacker to attack your account. So, if they manage to hack your email password, they have to pass another security step to get into the account.
Using a two-factor authentication process for sensitive accounts such as bank or private email accounts is best. You can receive calls with a secret PIN sent to your phone or choose a verification code.
Patterns And PINs
Opt for a very unique PIN that does not contain simple information such as name, address, or date of birth as it can be determined. If you want to stay away from cyber criminals, break the bad habit of using repeated strings of numbers (e.g., 1111, 0123, 0101, 8901) in passwords.
Don’t use straight lines and L-shaped pattern locks for the device, as these are common choices. Because of the many variations, a PIN is usually more difficult than a pattern.
Secure Network Connections
Enable the password when you set up the router. If you’re setting up a router, don’t worry; adding a password is easy enough. 192.168.0.1 is usually the default IP for routers. You can usually get this information on a sticker somewhere on the router or on the insert that came with the router. This insert/sticker definitely contains https://sharksinfo.com a default password and username.
After setting up the router, open a browser. Fill in the URL with the router’s IP address and sign in with the default credentials provided. Now, you can change your credentials. Use as many letters and numbers as possible for a robust password.
Use Device Biometrics
Your litter effort can save laptops and mobile devices that virtually last our entire lives. If your device offers biometrics options such as facial recognition or fingerprint to unlock, be sure to use it.
As mentioned above, it is very difficult to crack SMS authentication, pin, pattern, and passwords, but more difficult to hack biometric structures. If the device is stolen, it will be difficult for the thief to access your personal data.
Use A VPN
Always prefer a VPN for a secure Internet connection with a public network, such as a hotspot. It hides your IP address and anonymizes your location when you use the internet. VPN route your data with an encrypted virtual tunnel. Features like unblocking geo-restricted sites, a no-logs policy, and strong security are today’s must-haves.
Nobody is 100% immune to tracking. However, you can always better protect yourself from intrusion and monitoring and have peace of mind.
If you are a regular user, following the above steps will get you the required protection against online privacy invaders. However, if you are a journalist or deal with confidential information, you may incorporate advanced techniques like compartmentalization and routing through Tor proxies.
Remember, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12) declares privacy as a human right. Nothing is more crucial than knowing your rights and assessing your threat model to improve your online privacy.