The technology that your life is dependent on, is tracking you. With the inevitable digitisation and digitalisation of everything, privacy issues in India have been on the rise. But if you are looking for ways to secure your data online amidst the rising concerns of privacy, you are at the right place.
The Indian government is yet to pass the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, which aims to provide legal protection for the personal data of users or citizens, recognizing the protection of the data of individuals as their right. According to a report published in Tatva India, one out of every two citizens in India acknowledged seeing ads based on their private voice conversations. Tech companies around the world and brands keep a note of every move that you make online and offline. They can do physical tracking as we carry our phones everywhere we go, and virtual tracking of all the places we visit online. This information is collected, shared, and sold without your consent and of course, without giving customers any clarity on how this information is being used. That is one of the biggest threats to data usage.
Between being bombarded with news of data breaches across the world and OTT platforms trying to sell us hundreds of documentaries on what is being done with our data, it all boils down to the consumers and how they want to protect their data online. Today, we are going to discuss all the ways how you can secure your data online by making a few changes in the way you use your devices.
Here are some tips on how to secure your data online
Know the status of your data security
One of the first and foremost things you can do to take charge of your privacy online is to know if any of your data has been used. This is a fairly simple task, even if you are someone who’s not tech-savvy. You need to look for a good data breach search engine, which is a great starting point to find out how secure your data is. Then enter your email id and that will show how many data breaches your id has been included in, among other things.
Know the practices of phishing scams
Identifying the red flags to your potential online threats and frauds is one of the first steps you need to take in order to secure your data online. Phishing scams are the most common ways to be targetted and have your digital privacy violated and information stolen.
What is phishing? Simply put, it is an email or a text message that looks like it’s coming from a legitimate source, such as a bank or phone company, with the purpose of extracting sensitive personal information or money. There are many foolproof to identify one, such as a reputed company will never send emails from Gmail accounts, they will always have a legitimate domain. Spotting misspellings or grammatical errors is another way to spot a possible phishing mail. A message informing you that your account has been locked, or that you have to click a link in order to change security or account information is one of the most common ways of a phishing scam.
Secure your accounts using password managers
Given how much time we all spend on our smartphones, it is quite likely that hackers have leaked data from at least one of the hundreds of accounts you own. Also, if you use the same password for all your online accounts, it is not a great idea. Yes, it is easier to remember the same password for the entirety of your online presence, but that way you are just making your online presence more vulnerable.
Using a password manager leads to creating unique, secure passwords for all of your accounts, and the software stores them in one place so that you don’t have to keep track of all the complicated passwords. These softwares use encryption to keep your credentials locked down, so much so that they are considered to be 0% vulnerable to a brute-force attack, which is a common technique for hacking. Investing in password manager software is one of the easiest ways how you can secure your data online.
Check all the app permissions on your smartphone
A lot of times, especially after downloading a new app, what we do is give all the permissions that the app is asking for, in order to fast forward through the signing up process. In fact, most of you will not even remember having given permission to the oldest and most evergreen apps on your phone. Sometimes these apps ask for permissions like access to contacts, photos, GPS location, etc, which have no correlation to the functionality of the app.
If you want to secure your data online, you have to stop doing this. Go to the permission settings of each app on your phone and check all the permissions you have given. If you feel uncomfortable with any of them, or if you think certain permission does not necessarily go with the way the app functions, opt out of it.
Explore all the security tools you have installed
While a lot of apps and security tools on your phone aim to protect your identity and device, you have to know how to leverage them to secure your data online. In order to utilise the protective power of these tools, you must explore them to understand their features and how they work. For example, most antiviruses can protect against Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), which are troublesome apps that are not necessarily malware, but a lot of them do not detect these PUAs automatically. So, go to your antivirus software and check the detention settings and turn them on manually if they aren’t.
Keep your antivirus updated
Your system’s antivirus is a lot more useful than you think, especially if you are looking for ways to secure your data online. Any malicious software on your computer can wreak all kinds of havoc. Right from covert bitcoin mining to pop-ups and even scanning for personal information, an antivirus is the right way to go about protecting your data and device, especially if you are using Windows and Android. You can either purchase an antivirus or use Microsoft’s built-in software, Windows Defender.
Use a VPN for public Wi-Fi
Whenever you connect your device to a Wi-FI network that is not yours, use it via a virtual private network or VPN. You have no idea about the security of public internet connections, so it is quite possible that without your knowledge, someone connected to the same Wi-Fi might steal your data from your laptop or smartphone. When you use a VPN, it encrypts your internet usage and traffic by routing it through a server owned by the VPN company. This means that nobody can snoop on or misuse your data, not even the owner of the Wi-Fi network. It also hides your IP address, so brands looking to advertise and trackers looking to geolocate you via that IP address will instead see the VPN company’s address.
Use multi-factor authentication to secure your data and accounts
We agree that it can be a pain, but using multi-factor authentication is a great way to secure your data online. This simply means that you will need to pass through another layer of authentication beyond just a username and password in order to access your accounts. Gmail, Evernote, and Dropbox are a few online services that offer multi-factor authentication. This tool verifies your identity using at least two different forms of authentication. You might be asked to enter a code sent via text or tap a confirmation button on a mobile app. If you just use a password to secure your data online, anyone who learns or knows that password will be able to access your account.
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