It’s no secret that Google, Facebook, and other search engines are tracking nearly everything you do online. While you’re probably well aware that your online search activity is being monitored, what you may not realize is the amount of data Google collects is astounding. One reporter from The Guardian requested the file Google has collected on him over the years: it came out to around 3 million Word documents worth of information.
Google’s suite of products makes it possible for the company to track your every move. Google Maps knows where you were. Google Search knows what questions you have. YouTube and Android know which cat videos you watch at 3 AM. And, while a lot of this data seems unimportant in the grand scheme of things, some pieces of information can impact your credit score and your healthcare options.
Privacy is a right, not a privilege: so take back your privacy with these five tips for surfing securely online.
Use a VPN to surf anonymously
A VPN, or, virtual private network, lets you visit all your favorite sites with complete privacy. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device, a third-party server, and the public internet. As a result, other users and services cannot trace your activity; your device appears to have the IP address of the VPN server. The VPN allows you to:
- Surf public WiFi safely: when using internet at a restaurant, hotel, or airport, you should use the VPN to encrypt all data sent and received to protect yourself from hackers.
- Hide your digital traces: surf anonymously to prevent advertisers from targeting you with ads and spam.
- Get around restrictions and firewalls: use a server located in a different region to bypass geo-blocking restrictions on Netflix and some gaming sites.
There are many VPN tools out there, but the best VPNs work together with a suite of other security tools to make sure all your needs are covered.
Get the right tools to improve your security
In addition to a VPN, there are other essential apps for keeping your online activity private and protected. Antivirus and browser safety tools work to keep your devices free from malware, online snoops, and infected websites. According to one statistic, 300,000 new malware threats are created every day. There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds.
To keep your devices and browsing history safe, use an antivirus tool l that can protect you from ransomware, adware, spyware, hacking, phishing, and so much more. The browser safety tool from Avira integrates with Opera, Firefox, or Chrome to block infected ads, stop you from visiting malicious websites, prevent companies from tracking your browsing history, and detect unwanted apps when you download files.
Change your settings on Google
Google is tracking virtually all your online activity, from how long you spent gaming with friends to how many times you searched for your ex. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. Google has tools to help you protect at least some of your privacy – you just need to set it up yourself. Go to Google’s privacy settings to change what Google can track and collect.
Lockdown your social media activity
Once you’ve reviewed what Google is monitoring from your browsing activity, head over to Facebook to do the same exercise. Check your Facebook privacy by going to the “Settings” button in the upper right-hand corner. Click on Privacy Settings and review who can see your stuff. Then, go into your App Settings page to see what you’ve granted access too off the platform.
Do a regular check-up to see if your data is safe
Approach your online privacy the same way you would a credit score, and check regularly to make sure your information isn’t being compromised. There are a few tools that can tell you if you’ve been infiltrated, or if a third party has been hacked and you need to take action to protect your accounts. Try Haveibeenpwned or BreachAlarm, two popular tools that can check if your email, passwords, or other data is being accessed by bad actors.
The easiest way to protect your privacy? Get complete protection when you download the Avira Free Security Suite. Avira offers 360-degree security, privacy and performance for all your online activity in one powerful, free tool.