10 Easy Ways to Protect Your Privacy

Password Protect Your Devices

Choosing not to password protect your devices is the digital equivalent of leaving your home or car unlocked.  If you’re lucky, no one will take advantage of the access.  Or maybe the contents will be ravaged and your favorite speakers and/or secrets stolen.

 Google Yourself Regularly

Stay abreast of new things being said or published about you on the Internet.  Google Alerts was a formerly wonderful tool for this that no longer works.  Now you might try Talkwalker Alerts.

Sign Out Of Your Online Accounts When You’re Finished Using Them

Not only will this slightly reduce the amount of tracking of you as you surf the Web, this prevents someone who later sits down at your computer from loading one of these up and getting snoopy.  If you’re using someone else’s or a public computer, this is especially important.  Yes, people actually forget to do this, with terrible outcomes.

Don’t Give Out Your Email, Phone Number, or Zip Code When Asked

Obviously, if a sketchy dude in a bar asks for your phone number, you say no.  When the asker is a uniform-wearing employee at Best Buy or Linens ‘n Things, many a consumer hands over their digits when asked.  Stores often use this info to help profile you and your purchases.  You can say no.  If you feel badly about it, just pretend the employee is the sketchy dude in the bar.

Encrypt Your Computer

Encrypting your computer means that someone has to have your password (or encryption key) in order to peek at its contents should they get access to your hard drive.  On a Mac, you just go to your settings, choose “security and Privacy,” go to “File Vault,” choose the “Turn on File Vault” option.  Boom goes the encryptions dynamite.  PC fold need to use Bitlocker.

Turn On 2-step Authentication In Gmail

This simple little step turns your phone into a security fob – in order for your Gmail account to be accessed from a new device, a person (hopefully you) needs a code that’s sent to our phone.  This means that even if someone gets your password somehow, he won’t be able to use it to sign into your account from a strange computer.  Google says that millions of people use this tool, and that “thousands more enroll each day.”  Be one of those people.

Pay Cash for Embarrassing Items

Don’t want a purchase to be easily tracked back to you?  You’ve seen the movies!  Use Cash.  One data mining CEO says that is how he pays for hamburgers and junk food these days.

Change Your Facebook Settings to “Friends Only”

Visit your Facebook privacy settings.  Make sure this “default privacy” setting isn’t set to public, and if it’s set to “Custom,” make sure you know and are comfortable with any “Networks” you are sharing with.

Clear Your Browser History and Cookies on a Regular Basis

When’s the last time you did that?  If you just shrugged, consider changing your browser settings so this is automatically cleared every session.  Go to the “privacy” setting in your Browser’s “Options.”  Tell it to “never remember your history.”  This will reduce the amount you’re tracked online.  Consider a browser add-on like TACO to further reduce tracking of your online behavior.

Use an IP Masker

To hide your online footprint, you can download Tor or use an easy browser-based option like HideMyAss.com.