Companies have been harvesting our data without our knowledge for years now. Whether its because they didn’t inform us, we didn’t read the terms and conditions or because the language in the terms and conditions was so complicated and misleading that we didn’t understand what was about to happen – many of us now feel duped.
Compromised privacy has become a serious issue, but there are steps you can take to limit the extent that your data can be harvested. Call it privacy hygiene: when a cold goes around in your family there’s no way to guarantee you won’t catch it- but if you wash your hands regularly and avoid contact with contaminated items – you’re less likely to fall sick. The same is true when it comes to your data and privacy. If you practice privacy hygiene, you’re less likely to have your privacy compromised. Here are some quick tips to protect yourself and your data:
1. Stay informed.
The first step to taking control of your data is understanding what is happening in the world re: privacy. Things change on a dime when it comes to threats to security and your privacy so you want to stay informed. You can do this by signing up for newsletters such as New York Time’s The Privacy Project, ZDNet’s security newsletter, and Wired’s daily email blast.
2. Protect your accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
One way to protect your information in case of a breach is making sure you never reuse a password. If you are like most people, you have already been notified that you have at least been part of at least one major – if not many- breaches that jeopardized personal information including your passwords. Consider using a password manager to maintain different and complex passwords for each account. And opt for two-step authentication whenever it’s available. You can actually check and see if your passwords and email address have been compromised by visiting haveibeenpwned.com.
Also, even if you haven’t been compromised, it is smart to change your passwords on a specific interval of time, such as every 30 or 90 days.
3. Opt-out of data sharing.
Simpleoptout.com shows you how to opt-out data sharing and marketing practices for different companies including Google, Target, and Chase just to name a few.
4. Restrict companies’ and websites’ ability to track you when browsing the web.
As we all know, everything you do on the internet is tracked and can be used for targeted ads. You can limit this by installing browser extensions like UBlock Origin and Privacy Badger to block ads and the data they harvest. Although you may give up a little personalization on your likes and dislikes, you will gain more privacy.
5. Encrypt your communications.
Make sure that when you communicate to others about business, critical or private information that you opt for secure, encrypted communications technologies (like Vaporstream) to keep your information from being shared inadvertently or spied on by third parties (i.e. man in the middle attacks).
At Vaporstream, we understand that security and privacy are an increasingly complex subject. The steps that individuals can take to protect their data is important but until companies change how they approach date privacy there will continue to be regular compromises of peoples’ privacy. At Vaporstream, we believe everyone has the right to privacy and security when it comes to their information. Learn more about our approach to security here and our communications platform here.
Contributor: The Vaporstream Team