How to Stay Safe Online
A practical guide to protecting your privacy online
This article discusses how to protect your privacy online. If you don't do it, your personal information is constantly at risk from hackers and various apps. Online services like Facebook can violate our privacy and use our identity without ever asking for permission or via carefully designed End User Agreements (EUA) that make it nearly impossible for us to read or comprehend.
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What is this post about?
This post gives a brief overview of what these risks are and offers some tips on how to protect yourself from them. For example, there are many tools online that block tracking by third parties, which include TOR browser and EFF's own Privacy Badger.
The point of this post is not to scare you, but to help educate you about the risks and tools available so that you can make informed decisions about your privacy.
What to know about your privacy
Know what information is being collected from your computer and phone.
There are many ways your personal information could be compromised. The easiest way to lose control of your personal data is by letting it spread across many different services which become vulnerable to attacks.
For example, if you use Google's Chrome to visit this site, your browser will send information to Google even though we don't have an account there.
Google Analytics is a software that many companies use to track the date and time of visitors to their website. It also provides other metrics like what links people clicked on, where they came from and where they went next. This is usually used by site owners who want to understand how effective their content is or whether they should redesign a page.
If you don't mind having your data tracked, there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you do, you can use the Chrome plugin called Ghostery to block this tracking.
Browser plugins like Ghostery are great because they block most trackers with just a few clicks while you browse. However, there are a lot of different browser extensions out there which collect data from your computer and send it off somewhere else without your permission. To avoid this, it's important that you take notice of what extensions are actually installed on your browser.
What else can compromise your privacy?
Google Chrome is not alone in this regard. Many browsers like Firefox and Opera also have pre-installed extensions that you can't remove. Therefore, the only way to avoid these types of intrusions is to use one of these browsers in "privacy mode". This involves having a new profile with no extensions or user data where you can safely browse the web.