3 ways to protect your online privacy in 2016

Internet privacy is a hot topic at the moment. Ever since the revelations from Edward Snowden back in 2013 which told the world about the true extent of the US Government’s online espionage programs against their own citizens, people have become increasingly aware of just how vulnerable they are online.

Prior to 2013, cyber-security was only vaguely on people’s minds and was an issue lucky to get more a couple of short paragraphs in a newspaper. Today, cyber-crime and government surveillance of people’s online activity is front-page news.

When an illiberal piece of legislation is proposed by governments throughout the western world, there is uproar, petitions, and protests. Even when the more oppressive regimes like Russia and China expand their programs, it is considered worthy of note and comment.

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But perhaps most importantly, since the Snowden revelations, people have become more conscious of the need for them to take steps themselves to protect their privacy when using the internet. Because while the internet has revolutionized the way we do so many things, from shopping to banking, it has also created new risks and opportunities for criminals to go online, and steal money, identities, and much more.

Once we have decided we want to take action to protect our privacy online, the next hurdle we encounter is just how to do that. Because as demand increases so do the plethora of apps and programs which claim to help us protect our online privacy as well.

Choosing the right one can be a daunting challenge, which is why I have written this article. Because with more than 10 years’ experience of working in online privacy software development, I have worked on or used many of the products people are turning to these days. And this makes me well placed to recommend the top 3 ways to protect Your online privacy in 2016:

 

  1. Anti-Virus Software:

Anti-Virus software is the one bit of IT security kit which most people have heard of. But it has never been more important to use it than it is right now. Cyber-criminals are plentiful, skilled, and quick to exploit any vulnerability is both software and hardware.

They are creating new forms of computer virus all the time. Malware, ransomware, Trojans, and so many more types of malicious software are out there, and there are plenty of people looking to get them onto your machine and sending back your details.

Having a reputable anti-virus program such as Norton, McAfee, or Kaspersky running on your machine is, therefore, vital. But it doesn’t end there, it is also critical that your anti-virus software is updated on a regular basis. Most programs will do this automatically, but you must always be sure that you have enabled them to run these updates.

It is through these that the software can keep up-to-date with the latest viruses, so running anti-virus software without updates quickly renders it impotent and a waste of time.

 

  1. A Password Manager:

We all have numerous online accounts these days, whether they are for social media sites, shopping sites, or email accounts. Remembering them all is nigh on impossible, especially when we are constantly being told to make them ever more complex and change them more and more often.

This is where a password manager comes in. A password manager can help you to generate complex passwords and then store them securely. As a user, all you have to remember is a single password, and once logged into the password manager, it will then input all of your usernames and passwords automatically, so you never have to worry about remembering them.

There are plenty of password managers out there, but the best for usability and security is still LastPass, although KeePass is also one worth keeping an eye on.

 

  1. A VPN:

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is the other essential tool for online privacy. A VPN works by channeling all your online activity via an encrypted pathway to a third-person server. This serves a number of purposes.

The encryption ensures that all your internet activity is secure and invisible to any prying eyes looking to steal or monitor your data. And rerouting your data via another server hides your IP Address and therefore means that you are essentially totally anonymous online. VPN are essential to keep data safe on public Wi-Fi networks, but there are just as important in the home as well.

There are many VPNs out there and choosing the best one very much depends on where in the world you are, your budget, and what your priorities for it are.

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