Protect yourself online

You live in a world of mass surveillance and data tracking. Internet providers, advertising companies, identity thieves, some employers, and perhaps your neighbors — they all have a vested interest in tracking your online movements. So how do you protect your privacy online?

Unless you never venture online at all, no security measure is 100 percent effective. There are a number of steps you can take to improve your technical settings on your favorite online profiles. However, many security breaches are caused by online social behaviors. Here are a few simple yet effective security tips to safeguard you against prying eyes.

  • DO NOT access financial, email or other sensitive data via public Wi-Fi networks. In many cases, these are open networks and anyone with reasonable technical abilities can access your private information exchanged over public Wi-Fi networks.
  • DO NOT store sensitive data in the cloud.
    While cloud services (e.g., GoogleDrive, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox) may be a convenient way to manage your files, your data may either be unencrypted or you may not be able to control the level of encryption yourself. If your data is unencrypted, it is susceptible to security breaches and may be visible to others.
  • Disable your GPS and Wi-Fi on your mobile devices, when not in use.
    When these functions are enabled, your location is broadcast to a number of entities including your service provider and app developers. To minimize this broadcast, turn off these functions when they are not needed. Think before you make personal information such as your location, Internet data usage, app usage, and content data available.
  • Enable 2-Step Verification, if available, on your accounts. 2-Step Verification, also known as 2 Factor Authentication, adds an additional layer of security when you sign in to your account. Once you activate this security measure, you will be required to log in with your password and an additional security measure (e.g., a security code that is delivered to your mobile device via text, voice call or mobile app, a USB security key, printed backup codes). To view a list of applications that support 2-Step Verification, see Two Factor Auth (2FA).