Personal data and our online privacy has been a massive issue lately for users of search engines, email services and other data collecting apps like Facebook. It’s clear that as casual users of these relatively new technologies, we don’t yet fully understand what we are signing up to when we use online services, download items or even scan through our various social pages. With companies like Facebook now promising to clean up their privacy controls, time will tell if they can regain our trust. In the meantime, we’ve put together a list of small steps you can take to help protect your online privacy.

 

Think Before You Click (or tap): 

We’re all by now well versed in scams such as those “Nigerian Prince” or “lottery winner” email scams but online criminals are becoming more sophisticated with finding new ways to trick us. We have also become accustomed to spending up to three hours a day browsing on our phones clicking links and opening multiple tabs each day. This can leave us open to clicking false, fake or harmful links even on the more reputable online sites. Much like the somewhat new phenomenon of “Fake News”, the best way to combat this is to take a second to question everything you click and if you’re not sure about it, keep scrolling by.

 

Image of someone sitting on a bench about to tap their phone. Taking time to think about certain links before clicking them can help to protect your online privacy

 

Update Your Operating System: 

Keeping the operating systems on your laptops, phones and other smart gadgets updated regularly will ensure that you’re protected against any major virus’s or data mining apps that have been circulating. Developers will constantly update the software on these types of devices to stay ahead of the latest number of harmful virus’, scams and other threats that are impacting users of the systems. Equally, as data privacy increases over the coming years and becomes more regulated, newer versions of apps will be built to incorporate safer data handling and hand the ownership back to the users.

 

Delete Old Apps: 

Updating the apps you have can be important, but clearing out some of the older ones can be just as important . You’d be surprised at how even the most one dimensional apps will store a lot of your data. For example, that game that you downloaded and only played twice, may still have certain accesses to your Facebook data, email account and other data storing apps without you being fully aware of it. “Spring clean” these types of apps on a regular basis to both clean up your device and protect your online privacy.

 

Image of someone using a gaming app. Deleting older and unused apps can limit the amount of data you share and thus protect your online privacy

 

Don’t give away your email too easily: 

People are becoming a lot more hesitant when it comes to just giving away their email addresses when they’re online. This is an important trend as it really is a clever way to help protect your online privacy. By signing up to endless mailing lists, online retailers, apps, newsletters, discount/coupon companies etc you’re usually agreeing to being contacted with other promotional messages on social media, other channels and to having your data shared with 3rd parties. Be aware if this and take the time to read through the fine print of the terms and conditions. By taking these extra few minutes, you’ll be able to know exactly what you’re handing your information over for and the accesses that you’re granting these companies.

 

Public and Private Wifi Networks: 

Although being on an extensive data plan can be costly, it can save you from arduously signing into both public and private WiFi systems either at home or abroad. Most of these networks will ask users to sign up with an email and grant the provider certain levels of access to your personal apps etc. On top of the need to be handing over your data to these servers, the servers themselves may be not secure or even be corrupted. Use your trusted network providers data and if you really need to use a public WiFi server, then make sure it’s from a reputable company, public space or hotspot the connection from a friend data.

 

Image of someone using their phone with a laptop on in the background. Connecting to only reputable Wifi sources will help to protect your online privacy

 

Although these tips can’t guarantee to protect your online privacy, they will ensure that your mobile or connected device is in the best possible position it can be to deal with the various online threats to our data. For more on how you can protect and access the data that companies store about you online, check out the Data protection commissioners website. 

If you’re looking to protect your phone against more traditional threats such as loss, damage or theft then you can get a great value gadget insurance quote from our website.