The Importance of Digital Privacy in the Digital Age

5 min read

Online privacy is to what extent your personal, financial, and browsing data has been hidden while you’re online. It is also called internet security or digital privacy. It is an increasing source of concern as there is a greater source of exposing the browsing history and personal information. For example, the number of publicly publicized data breaches in the United States, from September 2020 to September 2021, exceeded the total number of recorded data breaches in the previous year by 17 per cent.

Even though many individuals underestimate the importance of digital privacy, they should be conscious of how much information they’re revealing – not only on social media sites but also just by exploring the internet in general.

Why is the Concept of Digital Privacy Important?

You may think that protecting your privacy in the real world means protecting it in the virtual world. However, many people aren’t aware that their private information is being recorded in the virtual world. Personal information such as a person’s date of birth, home address, bank account information, and personal hobbies are among the most sensitive data that can be protected by digital privacy.

We can protect our information from third parties, all thanks to digital privacy. However, digital privacy doesn’t operate quite as effectively as we might expect it to. It is possible to track people’s online activity in the future because the data bank is always logging their online activities.

For example, if you attempt to look for the best restaurants in your area on the internet a couple of times, the internet will record your interest in food and label you as a ‘foodie’. Thus, with time, you might just find pop-up ads for food and restaurants even if you’re searching for scientific information for your school project on a science website!

The Lack of Awareness is a Major Problem

The Lack of Awareness is a Major Problem

According to the results of a survey of internet users in the United States, 81 per cent of respondents said they had no control over the information collected by private corporations. Even worse, when asked if they wanted to have any say in what information the government collected, the figure rose to 84 per cent.

The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, was adopted by the European Union in response to similar concerns. This set of regulations, passed in 2016 and put into effect in 2018, aimed to safeguard the privacy and data of all EU citizens.

California’s version, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), grants consumers four fundamental rights to control their personal information on the internet. These are the right to:

  • Know what personally identifiable information is being gathered by a company as well as how that information is used, and with whom that information is shared.
  • Request the deletion of their personal information.
  • Refuse the sale of their personal information.
  • Fair treatment when exercising their CCPA rights.

Some tech corporations, on the other hand, retain consumer data that dates back several years. Hence, it is not surprising that all your online activities, interests, shopping patterns, and political opinions have possibly been documented meticulously.

The question that remains, hence, is how can one control the amount of data that is accessible by a third party on the internet.

How to Protect Your Digital Privacy and Regulate Access of Personal Data

You can keep your data safe from unauthorized access by making a few simple modifications to your devices and accounts. You can also keep your personal information private from people you don’t want to share it with. It is straightforward to start the process. Here are a few steps you can take to safeguard your personal information online.

Reducing Web Browsing Tracking

Every ad, social media button, and website gathers information about your location and browsing activities. This information reveals a great deal about you. In fact, the websites you regularly visit supply all the data that advertisers need to define what kind of person you are.

Browser extensions such as uBlock Origin block ads and the data that they collect. It also stops malware from running in your browser and gives you a simple way to turn off ad blocking when you want to support safe sites. using Privacy Badger, which blocks trackers, in conjunction with uBlock, helps to reduce the number of ads that follow you.

Disable interest-based ads from Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter to slow down stalker ads even more. Many websites provide options for opting out of data collection, but you must do so manually. Simple Opt-Out provides direct links to opt-out instructions for popular websites such as Netflix, Reddit, and others.

Protecting Your Online Accounts

It’s no secret that several high-profile firms have been the victims of data breaches and password leaks. It is, hence, quite possible, that data from at least one of your online accounts has likely been compromised. Find out if your online accounts have been breached by visiting this page – ‘Have I Been Pwned?’. This page allows you to search for your email address and cross-reference it with hundreds of data breaches.

A password manager is essential for creating and remembering unique, complicated passwords

A password manager is essential for creating and remembering unique, complicated passwords for each online account. This is the single most effective way to safeguard your online privacy and security today.

Whenever possible, everyone’s online accounts should be protected by two-factor authentication (2FA). Most major banks and social networks offer this option.

Password and a secret code are the two steps required for two-factor authentication. Using your Facebook username and password, for example, is the first step. Step two involves entering a temporary code that Facebook delivers to you through text message or, better yet, an app like Google Authenticator.

Using a Good Antivirus Software

From annoying pop-ups to secret bitcoin mining to scanning for personal information, malicious software on your computer may do a lot of damage.

If you’re running Windows, you should take advantage of Windows Defender, which comes preinstalled with the operating system. For most Mac users, the protections built into macOS are sufficient, especially if you only download apps from Apple’s App Store and utilize well-known browser extensions.

Installing Only Trusted Applications

If you download a browser extension or piece of software from a shady website, you’re putting yourself at risk of compromising your privacy and security. Several smartphone apps track your location and capture your data without your permission, including children’s apps.

Eliminating unused applications can free up memory and improve the overall performance of your phone. You can then review the privacy permissions of the remaining apps on your phone. For iPhone users, launch the Settings app and select the Privacy section from the menu that appears. The app permissions are available in Android’s Settings > Apps menu. It also has a list of the applications that have access to your location and other data. Remove permissions that aren’t necessary.

Updating Your Devices

Frequently released updates add additional functionality as well as increase security for a wide range of software, including mobile and desktop operating systems, web browsers, popular apps, and even smart home devices.

In most cases, these security upgrades are more effective than antivirus software at thwarting hackers.

Despite the inconvenience of having to wait for a software update before you can use your computer, the security benefits are worth the effort.

Encrypting and Password Protecting your Laptop and Phone

A password and a security key help to encrypt your laptop’s hard drive. Without the password or the key, your data is useless. There is default encryption in most smartphones. Yet, so that your phone stays securely locked in case it goes missing, you have to take some more actions.

Your biometric (fingerprint or face) login should be accompanied by a strong passcode that is difficult for anybody else to guess. Set up the remote-tracking feature on your phone, which is the second step. If you haven’t already, set up a PIN or pattern on your phone and turn on biometric authentication. It is possible to access these choices on an iPhone by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode, or on an Android phone by going to Settings > Security & Location.

Security and privacy are interdependent.

The Importance of Being Aware of What to Share and Where to Share

Security and privacy are interdependent. Therefore, you must develop the practice of safeguarding both. It might be daunting to take these steps initially. When you finish doing this, all you need to do is to improve your judgment and develop positive internet habits.

Always take links in emails and on social with a pinch of salt. Set up a password-protected account and never post anything you wouldn’t mind having the world see. Maintain a low profile when it comes to your primary email address and phone number. While making purchases and for other activities, try to use disposable email addresses. Ideally, do not link these to your bank account.

The same rule applies when signing up for services like grocery store discount cards where your area code and phone number get you whatever club-card discount a retailer offers. If you aren’t getting something out of linking two services like Facebook and Spotify or Twitter and Instagram, you must refrain.

Digital privacy holds significant value in today’s digital world, and it is important to realize that sooner than later. Going forward, it will be too difficult to live in a world where you don’t have control over your own data and your presence online. It is only by taking the right steps today that you will live in a safer online world.

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