You’re connected to the internet and online world from every device you own. That means that your information and details about you and what you while connected is online. In many cases, even the things you do while offline are recorded online through credit and debit card records.
Every time you’ve clicked a link, made a purchase, or “liked” something on one of your social media accounts is logged. If you’ve had online accounts for long enough, this means that those actions you’ve taken have been cataloged for at least a decade.
What does your data do online? It doesn’t just sit there so that you can see what you’ve been up to. It’s for sale. For Big Data companies, all this information is up for grabs to those who are willing to pay for it. The truth is, Big Tech is willing to pay for it – massive online e-commerce corporations like Amazon, along with political consulting firms, want your data. It helps them to predict your behavior and interests online, giving AI ad-targeting technology detailed information to provide more precisely targeted adverts to their clients and increase their value.
It’s important that we learn how to prevent online companies from collecting your data. Here’s how to do it.
Find Out Who Has Data on You
Let’s start with what’s publicly accessible. We’re guessing that you’ve got a birth certificate. If you’re legally married, you’ve got a marriage certificate. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you’ve got a criminal record. These are just some examples of what’s out there, relevant to your identity, and accessible to anyone from the public. Public information also includes information that has been sourced from newspapers, telephone directories, or magazines.
How do you find out what information about you or anyone else that you know is available publicly? Try searching your name in Nuwber.com to see what data comes up. Chances are, you’ll be surprised.
When it comes to nonpublic data, we’ve mentioned how your every “like” is recorded. This is the case with all your search entries on search engines, too. Make a point of going into the “privacy” settings of your browser and social media accounts to keep track of all the information that these platforms have on record about your online history and behavior. You can always erase these histories if you don’t want them on record any longer.
Switch to a More Secure Browser
If you’re using Chrome or Safari, you might want to reconsider. Make the switch to Firefox, instead. Google is one of those businesses that operate by collecting your data, selling it, and making huge amounts of money from it. You’re giving it to them and not getting a cent out of it. Mozilla, on the other hand, works as a non-profit corporation that is far more concerned with your privacy than Google and Apple are.
In the Firefox browser, navigate to the settings panel and toggle the “Do Not Track” option. This way, websites won’t track your clicks and online behavior. It keeps ad networks from being able to spam you constantly, across your devices and platforms.
You’ve probably noticed how you get adverts on Facebook, for instance, when you’ve Googled a similar product online. So, even if you are using Firefox but using Google to search, that big data company is still getting your information. It would be wise to opt for another search engine that doesn’t store your private information, like DuckDuckGo or Qwant.
Keep Off the Social Media Radar
If you’re unable to bring yourself to deactivating your social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can always unfriend people you don’t know. Don’t let people you don’t know follow you on Twitter and Instagram either (ensuring that your accounts are not public, first).
Using tools like Social Fixer allows you to turn off Facebook’s AI-ranked posts and ads, too. For Twitter, try Larry Filter to do the same. This gives these social media platforms less power over you by not allowing them to send targeted ads your way.
Keep Your Physical Location to Yourself
Staying somewhat anonymous while browsing online has become easier with access to virtual private networks (or VPNs, for short).
Basically, a VPN encrypts web traffic and gives you a virtual IP address so that none of the big data companies can pinpoint your physical location – where you’re browsing from. Your internet service provider, or ISP, can also track your location and record data from you, however. This can be easily avoided by using a VPN along with buying your own router. Moreover, don’t use the router that you’ve got from your ISP. Look to buy a router that’s both fast and customizable and ensure that your security settings are up-to-date.
Protect Yourself, Your Devices, and Accounts
It’s not just the big companies that are after your data. Maybe you’ve heard of the dark web? Cybercriminals and hackers are known to break through your devices’ securities, gain access to your private, valuable information, and sell them on dark web marketplaces. This is a source for all sorts of crimes, like identity theft through the theft and sale of information like your Social Security Number.
How to keep yourself from being hacked? Check out every website that you intend to visit. You can start by examining the URL to get clues on whether it will infect your device with malware or spyware. Some rogue “companies” even create imposter pages that steal your login details. It might mirror the Amazon login page – once you enter your details, these hackers could get into your actual account and mine your credit card information, for example.
Ensure that you enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on any platform that supports it. Check up on all your passwords and make sure that they’re strong and that no two passwords are the same.