Privacy, Security

5 More Easy Actions to Improve Your Personal Cyber Security

May 16, 2022 / My Data Removal Staff
A digital shield representing personal cyber security

This is part two in the Personal Cyber Security Checklist series. (Here is part one.)

While the list of things you can do to improve your online privacy and security is quite long, this article will give you 5 more actions you can take that will be the most impactful. Over the course of the series, the actions we recommend take into account simplicity and impact. The most impactful and easy to implement actions will be earlier in the series, while the end of the series will have the hardest to implement actions.

Action 1: Lock down or ditch social media

Explanation: Consider re-evaluating your relationship with social media. At the very least, determine to be intentional with you usage so it serves you and doesn’t weaken your privacy and security. In some cases, deleting your social media accounts can make sense.

Why this matters: Social media can be a great tool, but also can be used against us. Social media posts and activities are a great resource for thieves, cyber criminals, stalkers, and others. Stopping, reducing, or clarifying your social media usage can protect you against threats.

How to do it: Step back and evaluate your social media usage. Does it add value? What services or activities could replace what you do on social media? Are you in control of how much time you spend on social media, or is it the algorithms with the purpose of increasing the time you spend on the platform? If you don’t delete, definitely update your security settings and clarify how your social media usage will align with your privacy and other goals. More information about social media usage.

Action 2: Use privacy conscious web browsers

Explanation: The web browser you use impacts your privacy. Use a browser that respects your privacy.

Why this matters: While Google Chrome is the most well-known offender, many browsers aggressively collect data on their users. Switch to a browser that prioritizes your privacy. There are lots of options, but Firefox is a solid pick.

How to do it: Download and install Firefox, or your privacy-friendly browser of choice, on all of your devices. Set them as the default. You might want two browsers for two different use cases: things you want to stay logged in to and things you want to do more anonymously. More information on privacy-friendly browsers.

Action 3: Use privacy-friendly search engines

Explanation: Some search engines respect your privacy while others don’t.

Why this matters: We have to use search engines to find things online. Some search engines collect extensive user data and create profiles on you. Other search engines don’t collect any user data.

How to do it: Switch from Google to a privacy-friendly search engine, such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage, on both your pc and mobile device. You go into settings, select ‘Search’, and change your default search engine. Future searches will be made with the privacy-respecting search engine and not Google. More information on privacy-friendly search engines.

Action 4: Use secure email

Explanation: Secure email means zero-knowledge email (even the email provider cannot read the contents) with the company’s servers in a privacy-respecting country. Email infrastructure should be open source and audited.

Why this matters: Not all email providers are the same when it comes to privacy. Previously, Google scanned the content of your emails to show you relevant ads. After some outrage, they have stopped doing that, but let’s be honest, Google already knows enough about you.

How to do it: Sign up for an account with Protonmail or Tutenota, two well-known secure email providers. Get other people you communicate with to switch over to your provider, since only in-network emails are zero-knowledge. More information on secure email.

Action 5: Use a VPN

Explanation: A virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that can give you greater online privacy and anonymity. It basically encrypts and routes your internet traffic through a new network, making it so your online actions are harder to trace back to you.

Why this matters: VPNs hide your traffic from your internet service provider (ISP), hide your true IP address from websites you visit, protects and encrypts your traffic on public WiFi, and helps you get around geo restrictions.

How to do it: Sign up for a paid VPN service with one of the reputable VPN companies. Install the apps on your devices, your router, and/or your physical firewall. More information on VPNs.

Conclusion

Congratulations on your commitment to improving your cyber security. Every step you take will help keep you safer and decrease the odds of you becoming a target.

Stay tuned for the next article in the Personal Cyber Security Checklist series for more tips and best practices when it comes to your personal cyber security.

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