With data breaches like the Equifax hack becoming more common, investing in your online privacy has never been more critical. And let’s be real: that incognito browsing option you think is cloaking your every move? It’s not really doing that.
There’s no way to be truly anonymous online, but there are numerous options you can take. Here’s what a handful of online privacy and security experts recommend doing to actually browse the web privately:
If you’re not actively trying to hide online, but rather wish to manage some of the information other sites and companies can collect, experts suggested taking the following steps:
- Comb through the privacy settings on your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and other social media sites (look for things like your location settings, which you should turn off)
- Enable two-factor authentication (a security process that requires an added measure beyond a password, such as inputting a code that is texted or emailed to a user) whenever possible
- Use a password manager like Sticky Password or Dashlane, and never reuse passwords (and make sure to set up two-factor authentication for your manager, as they are also susceptible to hackers)
- Turn off GPS, Wifi, and Bluetooth to “limit your devices from attempting to connect with external devices and networks, some may be legitimate, some may be malicious,” suggests Joel Wallenstom, the CEO of Wickr, a service which offers encrypted messaging
- Create a “master email” address which is only used to recover important accounts (not for stuff like online shopping or mailing lists), which no one else knows about
- Make sure you’re not searchable by phone number on Linkedin, Facebook, etc.
- Unsubscribe from superfluous mailing lists, like stores you never purchase anything from
- Use a HTTPS connection instead of HTTP, which will encrypt your connection with websites (there are plugins you can get for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera so you are always using HTTPS)
- Use an alternate search engine that does not track you like Duck Duck Go
- Check out Have I Been Pwned, a site that can tell you whether or not you’ve been the victim of a data breach (you can also sign up for notifications)
Experts also suggest opting out of social media altogether. If that’s not possible, a service like Xpire will comb through your status updates and “friend” lists to help you delete old posts and better manage your online presence.