A survey by Avast, a digital security and privacy company, found that in a “Post-Pandemic World” 77% of Americans say that the protection of their online data is “very important to me.”
New Year’s is right around the corner and while we are all likely thinking “New Year, New Me” in 2022, we’re also probably getting inundated with emails and web notifications every day.
During the pandemic, while most individuals online presence grew, thoughts of digital security have been put on the back burner. At a time when most of us were homebound and alone our digital fingerprint is grew, between increased use of apps and programs like Zoom, Skype, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Perhaps, it’s time to think more about protecting your personal data when you use these apps.
However, in a survey by the Pew Research Center, nearly 60% of Americans believe it’s impossible to go through their daily life without having their data being collected, whether that was from companies or the government.
Avast found that 65% of Americans have stopped themselves from doing something online because of security concerns.
Meta – the Parent company of Facebook – is still dealing with the fall out of their Cambridge Analytical scandal, where it was discovered Facebook was collecting and selling the data of its users without their consent.
So how do you protect your data from hackers or others who are looking to abuse this information without your knowledge?
Downloading an Ad Blocker
One of the easiest things you can do is add an ad blocker to your browser. This can block some of the nastier pop-up ads that have hidden viruses from getting to onto your devices.
There will be some websites that you will need to turn your ad blocker off including news outlets. These websites often rely on ad revenue and will prompt you turn off your ad blocker.
Invest in a Virtual Private Network
Virtual Private Networks – or VPNs – can be a great way to protect your data but can be an investment – some VPNs can cost over $100/year. When you purchase one of these you can change the locations stamp (IPN) of your device that tracks your location. When you change your digital location, your device becomes harder to hack and gives you an added level of privacy protection. VPN’s also come with the added bonus of giving you access to international versions of Netflix where they have different movies and shows available in different countries.
Switch to a Browser that prioritizes your privacy
There are a few browsers other than Apple’s Safari or Google Chrome that exist specifically to protect your privacy. A popular browser is Brave which automatically blocks ads and disables trackers that can follow you from website to website.
Never Use the Same Password Twice
This one’s definitely a hard one and many of us fail to follow this one cardinal rule. However, having the same password for everything makes it easier for hackers to jump from one account to another of yours because people often don’t change their passwords.
If you know that remembering all these different passwords would be a struggle, write down all your passwords on pen and paper – old school style – and hide that paper in a secure location. After all, you can’t hack a paper document, but you can lose it, so remember where you put it.
Digital safety is a real concern for many, so maybe this New Year’s consider resolving to protect your passwords and your data, by making one or a few of these small steps and put your mind at ease.