Why is incorporating online privacy into our daily lives even more important today?

TO Mihai Rida, Privacy & Cyber ​​Security Expert, Product Marketing Director, CyberGhost

Today you can find that most people share a huge amount of information about themselves in one form or another on the Internet. In doing so, we expose ourselves to certain risks that we should be aware of, writes Mihai Rida.

In an era of artificial intelligence, increased government oversight, and increasingly sophisticated cybercrime techniques, it has never been more important to know how to protect your online privacy.

From social media platforms to online shopping sites, we share a lot of personal information online, which can leave us vulnerable to cyberattacks, identity theft and other online threats.

So if you haven’t thought about online privacy before, now is the time to do so.

What are the risks?

Today you can find that most people share a huge amount of information about themselves in one form or another on the Internet. This information is stored not only by us, but also by companies with whom we have shared it in order to access their services.

When we share our information with companies, we expose ourselves to certain risks.

Even though companies are paying more attention to protecting their customers’ information, data leakage is still a serious problem.

If companies are not careful or intentionally share customer data with third parties, this can lead to spam and additional risks to your online security.

Reading the privacy policies of websites and apps before using them, while not a particularly exciting task, is one way to help you make informed decisions about which websites and apps to use and what information to provide.

However, this will not completely protect against data leaks or accidental data sharing.

We are the biggest threat to our online privacy

Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report highlights that there were more than 1,000 data breaches across Europe in 2021, 307 of which resulted in verified data breaches.

Europeans are well aware of this risk: a Eurobarometer survey found that 46% of Europeans are concerned about the potential misuse of their personal data by companies.

However, despite growing concern and awareness about how companies use our data, ultimately, the biggest threat to our online privacy is ourselves.

When we share information online, whether on social media, a business website, a review site, or a dating app, we share information that, when combined together, can give someone an idea of ​​who we are. and give them an idea about us. to our interests, beliefs or concerns.

Combine that with the information you share when you sign up for online accounts or shop online, and your online identity can suddenly become much more complete than you’d like, especially when exposed to the wrong people.

Be careful not to share

Thus, the over-distribution of information on the Internet can create serious risks, including identity theft and fraud.

It can also give attackers the tools to emotionally manipulate victims and leave them vulnerable to other attacks.

Take, for example, phishing attacks, a common form of cybercrime.

While many of these are random and unsophisticated, once a hacker obtains some background information about you, which may include, for example, the names of your family members or colleagues, details of your job, or companies you have previously purchased from, he can become very adapted and persuasive.

According to the European Union Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA), phishing attacks are the most common form of cybercrime in Europe, and we see no signs of this slowing down.

What can we do about it?

Incorporating online privacy into your daily life is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and effort. But by taking extra care and implementing a few extra security measures, you can protect your personal information and reduce the risk of cyberattacks and identity theft.

The simplest yet often compromised rule for protecting your privacy is to be mindful of what you share online in the first place.

Be careful what personal information you provide, especially on social media, dating sites or online forums.

In addition to personal information such as your phone number or home address, online photo and video sharing can also provide a wealth of information to potential spies, including information about your location, relationships, and interests.

The same can be said for any opinions or updates you share on social media or anywhere else.

Think about your sharing settings and think about what you want to share completely publicly and not just with family and friends.

Everything can be used in one way or another

Your browsing history and search data also provides a lot of information.

You may have seen this if you searched for something on the Internet and the next minute received a deluge of related product ads all over your social media feed.

This is where privacy tools like ad blockers and virtual private networks (VPNs) can help.

Ad blockers can play a vital role in keeping annoying companies from violating your privacy by blocking the use of cookies to track you, as well as speeding up web page load times.

Of course, you’ve probably already heard people tell you about the importance of strong passwords.

However, using strong passwords that are difficult to guess and that are different for every online account is one of the most effective ways to protect your online privacy and security.

Using a password manager to create and securely store your passwords can be an effective tool to keep you from having to remember your own.

Two-factor authentication, in addition to a strong password, provides an extra layer of security to protect your accounts from unauthorized access.

Public Wi-Fi networks can know everything about you

Many of us use public Wi-Fi networks every day. They allow us to get work done, shop online, or enjoy our favorite series or podcast while on the go.

However, you need to be careful with public Wi-Fi as well.

There is no guarantee that these networks are secure, and a skilled hacker can easily compromise them.

While most websites are currently encrypted (look for https:// in a web address to check), not all are encrypted, and neither are all applications.

This provides a window through which someone can monitor your activity and see your requests and responses.

In addition, public Wi-Fi networks have well-known wide-ranging rules and terms of their privacy policy.

As a general rule, you should assume that you consent to all of your web traffic being monitored on these networks.

Keep in mind things change fast

After all, it is wise to recognize that the digital world and the risks associated with it are evolving rapidly.

While this is an area that will continue to evolve, incorporating these practices into your online habits can help you take important steps towards privacy in your online life.

Mihai Rida is the director of product marketing for CyberGhost VPN, a privacy and cybersecurity expert, and a digital rights advocate.

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