This year Safer Internet Day (SID) is taking place on the 5th of February. I’m sure that everyone concerned about their privacy has marked this event in their calendar. One of the main purposes of SID is to raise awareness of security issues online and to empower people to use the Internet more responsibly. In this article, I will be sharing a few tips that hopefully will help you protect your identity online.
1. Ad Blockers
You want to browse the web without any flashing pop-ups, spyware-infected or just annoying ads and keep your activities at least a bit more anonymous? Ad Blockers or cookie cleaners can do the job well. You can find extensions and apps, either one of them is okay, but read their characteristics before buying, as different services offer different features. My recommendations for taking control of your browsing activities:
- AdBlock (Chrome, Opera, Safari)
- Privacy Badger extension (Firefox, Chrome, Opera)
- Ghostery extension (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari)
2. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
At first, a VPN can seem a little complicated, but it’s actually very easy to use, everyone can do it! What is a VPN? It lets you access the web safely and anonymously by routing your connection through a server, so it hides all your online traffic (even your ISP won’t see what you’re doing online). It helps to bypass geographical restrictions (websites, streaming services and other) and is essential when using public Wi-Fis or traveling. What to look for in a VPN? The most important part is reading their privacy policies and choosing one that is not keeping any logs. Other than that, I’d suggest looking up where the company is based, as it’s better to stay out of the 5, 9 and 14-eyes – those countries usually have mandatory data retention laws. If you want a reliable service, I’d suggest these providers:
- NordVPN (based in Panama, great price)
- ExpressVPN (based in the British Virgin Islands, slightly more expensive)
- Trustzone (based in Seychelles)
3. Other tips for staying safe online
Any of us can easily end up as a victim of a cybercrime. A very easy but important tip is to have different passwords for all your accounts. If you have a bad memory – use a password manager (for example, LastPass) which saves all your passwords in one place.
I think everyone who cares about their privacy should use an encrypted mailbox. Most of the people use Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail or other, but it’s no surprise that they aren’t very safe. Our mailboxes contain some sensitive information about us, so it’s best to switch to other providers, like HushMail.
When you browse online, look if the site uses HTTPS. If not, it would be smart to skip this web as buying from it can be dangerous (for example, your bank account information can be leaked). By the way, use HTTPS everywhere browser extension for an extra layer of security.
Finally, don’t forget your search engine. I think everyone already knows that Google keeps track of your search habits and stores cookies. I’m sure that half of the people don’t care about this at all, but if you’re even a little bit concerned about your privacy – switch to another search engine, like DuckDuckGo.
That’s it, easy right? Just don’t forget that Safer Internet Day shouldn’t be the only day you take action on your privacy. I kindly advise to use these tips in your daily life and always protect your online presence.