Internet privacy tools are all focused on keeping some aspect of your data private from some person or group. Knowing who or what you are keeping your information private from will help improve the effectiveness of your privacy measures.
Privacy From Other Users on Your Devices
If you share a computer or other device with your wife, husband, or children you may have certain activity or files that you don’t want them to see.
- Password Protect Folders: You can keep certain folders and their contents private using file encryption software. Most file encryption software will just prompt you for a password to access the contents of a folder. This will keep other people from viewing or editing these files.
- Use a Private Search Engine: Private search engines will make it so only you know what you’re searching for. Most private search engines won’t display your search terms in your browser’s history. These will also minimize ads showing up later related to things you’ve searched for.
- Use a Private Browser: Use private browsers that minimize tracking from websites you visit, which can prevent ads related to your earlier browsing could leak some of your behavior. You may also need to clear your history after you’ve finished browsing the web. If you’re concerned with keeping the sites you visit private, you should clear your history before letting someone else use your device.
Privacy From Businesses and Their Marketers
The majority of the websites you visit are using some sort of analytics or tracking to learn about who is visiting their site or who their customers are.
- Use Tracker Blockers: You can protect yourself from businesses collecting tons of information about how you browse their sites using these tracker blockers. This protects you from the businesses using this data to advertise to you, and in the event the business gets hacked, you have less to worry about.
- Use a VPN: VPNs, like tracker blockers, will make it more difficult for marketers to track you. Rather than knowing your actual location, they will think you are coming form the IP address of the VPN rather than your personal network. VPNs alone can’t keep you totally private, because if you log in to your email or social media account, they will link the VPN’s IP address to your profile.
- Delete Your Social Media: Social media services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are ways to communicate, but they provide companies with tons of data to advertise to you. Facebook is tracking your every move on their site and any site that has a “Facebook Like Button”, which is basically an embedded tracking beacon.
Privacy From Government Surveillance Agencies
You may think that you’re immune to NSA, CIA or FBI surveillance if you think that you “don’t have anything to hide”. However, if you see the issues associated with surveillance on a national scale, you may be concerned with keeping your “normal” behavior private.
- Use Private, Encrypted Communication Tools: Most of the ways people communicate are severely lacking in privacy and security. Standard text messages, emails, and social media messages are all stored and available in the event that the NSA finds an interest in accessing them. Even in low-level legal cases, a lawyer could subpoena Facebook to release your messages on the platform.
- Disable Location Tracking: This is not just a good idea for keeping the government from tracking you, you should disable location tracking to keep hackers from using your location data against you. If someone is able to tell where you are at all times, they could coordinate a home invasion for when you aren’t home, they could follow you and harass you, or any number of negative acts.
This is just a brief look at the steps you should take to keep your information private from these groups. If you have yet to take any precautions to protect your privacy, this list is a good place to start. If you’re looking for more in-depth ways, check out this article.