As we make our way around the internet, we are constantly being tracked by websites and the companies they belong to. This article will cover some basic steps you can undertake to reclaim online privacy.
Data collected via tracking is used for many purposes. Some examples include; detect number of visitors to the website, device and software being used, location of the user, and to see what other websites they have visited as to allow for more targeted advertising.
While to some users this does not matter; there are great tools available, and a few habits to break, to lower the amount of data companies obtain about you.
Owners of public WiFi may also collect data regarding users on their network.
There is no middle ground; if you disagree don’t use the service.
Search engines, like Google, are great tools; but they love collecting data. There are alternative search engines that work just as well but are focused towards privacy.
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that doesn’t track you. DuckDuckGo uses multiple search engines to provide results – These results can vary from what you would get in Google, but are still relevant to the search terms.
Startpage is another privacy focused search engine. It runs the users search via Google, giving you Google search results without the tracking.
The EFF have two great plugins available that can help to maintain some privacy when online.
HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension available for the major web browsers that ensures you connect to the website via HTTPS if the website support it.
Connecting to a website via HTTPS opposed to HTTP means all data being sent and received to the server in encrypted. This is especially important when entering a password on a website or entering credit card details.
Privacy Badger is a browser extension that helps to stop trackers and advertisers tracking where you go on the internet.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an encrypted tunnel from the connecting device to the VPN server stopping anyone in between seeing what data is being sent.
A VPN has multiple purposes; Many businesses use VPN to allow their employees to remotely access servers securely.
VPNs are a must if you are ever using public WiFi. This will protect you is anyone is attempting to intercept data over the WiFi connection. Without a VPN, any data sent from your machine via HTTP could be intercepted. This could include email, passwords, or other sensitive information.
Our personal habbits can also be a breach of our privacy. We happily give out our personal details to any website that asks, whether it be email, phone numbers, or date of birth. Limit the personal information you give to websites, most of the time they don’t require it anyway.
Don’t sign up for everything with personal email address. Setting up an Alias to use as a “throw away” email is simple to do on both Hotmail and Gmail. This also makes it simple to remove junk emails by deleting the Alias.
Avoid browsing websites while signed into Facebook, Google, or other websites. When you are signed in to these services, the service is able to track websites you visit.
Use a different web browser for casual browsing and for websites requiring a sign in. Using private browsing or incognito mode will ensure the browser is fresh the next time you open a search.
While these steps do not give you anonymity when browsing the web, they can help to lower the amount of data websites collect about your browsing habits. More tips can be found on our ‘Tech Tips‘ page.