Online Privacy: How to Avoid Leaving Tracks Around the Internet
January 21 , 2020

By Hayk Saakian

Privacy has become an increasing concern as media companies continue to grow in size and influence. Facebook, along with many other tech giants, has been thrust into the spotlight when it comes to data protection issues. In fact, the government has decided to get involved on several occasions. With a frenzy of allegations, lawsuits, questions, and borderline hysteria, it can be difficult to know what to do and who to trust.

At the end of the day, there are two things that can be known for sure: you want to keep your privacy and companies want to take it. With that in mind, let’s explore some ways you can avoid leaving tracks around the internet.

Don’t take sign-in shortcuts.

Whenever you visit a popular website, you’ll see alternative sign-up or sign-in options. Instead of using your standard email, you can access the site directly through Facebook or Google. Even though convenience is the primary motivator here, you’ll want to avoid scratching that itch in order to maintain your privacy. Google and Facebook allow those websites using these sign-in shortcuts to track users. You’re better off spending a few extra minutes to use the traditional email and password combination.

Avoid sharing the basics.

It’s alarmingly easy for a professional to steal your identity. Those who aren’t familiar with the process (which is admittedly 99.9 percent of the population) wouldn’t feel any safer online with this knowledge. Surprisingly, your birthdate and birth location are two important pieces of information for stealing someone’s identity, yet most online users give it out without a second thought.

If you can avoid giving these two key pieces of info to Google, Facebook, or any other major company, you’ll be even more protected. Also, you should avoid placing a straight-on photo of yourself online. These are easy to download and use for fake IDs.

Opt for Apple products.

There’s a never-ending and unwinnable debate between iPhone lovers and Android fanatics. While the software, build, and other features may be a toss-up, the privacy features certainly aren’t. Apple is the definitive winner of that battle. While Google and Facebook make money by selling your info to third parties, Apple doesn’t have much stake in that game. Instead, Apple makes money by coming out with a new product every year or so. With one look at their privacy features, it’s clear to see that they treat your info with much more care than some other companies of their size.

The laptop every lawyer should be using.

Lawyers are in an especially vulnerable position when it comes to online privacy. Not only are these professionals dealing with particularly sensitive information, but much of the data is also stored or at least trackable on their computers.

While other laptops completely disregard privacy concerns which so many users harbor, the Purism Librem 15 stresses this point. The laptop has been designed with the protection of users in mind, making it by far as one of the best laptop for lawyers whose main concern is privacy and security.

Say “no” to Google.

The idea of using an alternative search engine seems like tech suicide for most people. This search engine has become synonymous with readily available information. What do people say whenever they want to know something? “Google it.” The only problem is that every time you search on Google, the company is learning more and more about you.

Although it’s hard to believe, there are viable alternatives. While not as robust, quick, or prolific as the Google giant, search engines like DuckDuckGo will still do the trick without misusing your information quite as much.

Tread lightly when using public WiFi.

Free WiFi has become ubiquitous with the rapid advancement of technology. Every coffee shop, grocery store, and airport offers gratis WiFi to entice customers. While this is convenient and downright awesome, it’s important to understand the privacy implications. Most of these free networks are open, meaning other people on the same WiFi can easily access some of your emails and website searches. Sites with the “https” before the address are encrypted along with most messaging systems, so you don’t have to worry about those. Using a VPN, or virtual private network, service is always a good idea too.

Keep track of web tracking.

Some web tracking is okay. The important thing is that you’re on top of which companies are tracking you. This gives you an advantage in choosing who has access to your information and how they use it. There are several plug-ins and programs which will list which websites and companies are actively tracking your web behavior. You can then select one by one which trackers you’re okay with and those that you want to avoid.

Confuse Google’s algorithm.

Google’s algorithm has to be one of the most sophisticated forms of technology around, but that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully disrupt its accuracy. Every time you Google something related to your age, location, and interests, Google becomes more knowledgeable about who you are.

Every once in a while, it helps to throw off the algorithm by searching something completely out of the ordinary and unrelated to who you are. Are you fresh out of college with a full head of hair? Search for ways that balding 50-year-olds can get their hair back. It sounds simplistic, but it’s an effective way to cover up your tracks online.

Invest in some protective measures.

Protection isn’t always free. The public has been spoiled into thinking that everything involving technology is free in one form or another. In reality, robust online protection is going to cost you at some point. Yes, there are many free programs and methods you can undertake to make it harder or less likely that your data will be misused.

In order to get top-of-the-line security, though, you’ll have to cough up a little of that hard-earned dough. Fortunately, there are countless affordable and reasonable options. Have a gander at what’s available either in app, plug-in, or program form and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Hayk Saakian is an IT professional who has helped many businesses establish a strong online presence through online marketing and lead generation. He also writes interesting reviews on his website https://www.hayksaakian.com/ about the latest technologies with a particular focus on where tech advancements and a person’s lifestyle and needs meet.