If you’ve recently bought a new computer or phone, or you simply want to start taking privacy seriously, this post will help provide a starting point for how to maintain your privacy. Because user data is so valuable, many companies are shipping devices with tracking embedded into the operating system. These are a few steps you should take to disable those features.
Turn Off Location Tracking
Many devices, especially smartphones, come with location tracking enabled by default. In iOS, you can go into Settings and Location Services to turn off Location Services completely or for specific apps. With Android, you can change your Google account settings to disable location history. However, your other apps may also be able to track your location even if you’ve disabled location tracking on your device.
Disable Activity Logging or Storage
If your device has settings that let your device or your device’s operating system to store information about your behavior, you should disable that feature. For example, if your operating system and your browser are connected, you may be sending all of your browsing activity to a data profile. You should turn off this data collection if possible.
Use a Privacy-Friendly Browser
Your browser is your gateway to the internet so using one that is privacy-friendly is an essential part of staying safe online. A browser that collects information about your browsing is unnecessary. You’ll likely find that privacy-friendly browsers will deliver a much better user experience because they aren’t bogged down with tracking processes.
Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are the first barrier for people gaining unwanted access to your account or information. Longer and more obscure passwords are much more secure than short or obvious passwords. If you’re using your name or something that someone could easily guess, your account is not as secure as it could be. Another problem with shorter passwords is that they are easier to crack. If a computer is trying to randomly guess your password, a short password will be cracked much more quickly than a long password with a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor Authentication provides an extra layer of security to prevent unwanted access to your devices. This is when you log in, you have to verify that it’s actually you logging in. You typically verify it’s you by entering a code sent to your phone or email. Two-Factor Authentication is useful because if someone has your password, they will still be unable to login.
Cover Your Webcams (and Other Cameras)
Even if you think you have your devices locked down from malware or other viruses, there is still a chance that someone could covertly access your cameras. Security experts advise everyone to cover their webcams. Plus, the idea of having someone watching you through your webcam is super creepy.
Limit Permissions You Give Apps
When you install an app on your phone, the app will typically request some permissions like access to your microphone or your camera. If the permissions aren’t essential to the functionality of the apps, you don’t need to grant these permissions. Some apps request access to your location data, but it isn’t necessary to use the app. You should regularly run through the permissions you’ve given the apps installed on your devices to prevent unnecessary tracking.