You have probably heard it enough times already, but data is the most valuable commodity in present times. Companies harvest and use your data for their profit. They know a lot about you and can create ads that you are likely to click on. So, it is imperative that you take steps to keep your data safe online. For example, you should only use the official Spectrum billing page to pay your internet bills. Moreover, it can be a good idea not to use your full name online.
You have probably shared a lot of personal information online without knowing. Your social media might have your face, your full name, address, and even phone number. Someone could be out there waiting for any chance they get to use that data. So, deleting sensitive information from the internet can make your online experience safer. You might not be able to delete everything, but it is possible to reduce your data footprint. So, here are a few steps you can take to claim your online privacy back:
#1: Opt-Out of People-Search Websites
People-search websites can potentially have enough data on you for criminals to use. Hackers can use this data to create socially engineered phishing attempts. So, you should search for your name online and see what comes up. You might find websites like Whitepages, Spokeo, or MyLife that have your address and phone number. Most of these have an opt-out page, but you can also send them a direct email. You should also follow up afterward to make sure that they have deleted your information.
#2: Delete Unused Accounts
It is easier to forget about old accounts that you don’t use anymore. But these accounts could still have data like your name and pictures. There might be old accounts like MySpace or Vine that you no longer use. Not only could they be embarrassing to look at again, but they are also a potential security risk. These old pages might be publicly accessible and could have sensitive personal information. Moreover, you might have stale accounts on websites you bought something from once.
It isn’t uncommon for internet companies to share data. So, you possibly created an account for one reason, but some other company used it for another purpose. Therefore, you must look for all obsolete profiles, and delete them forever. You can also change the privacy settings and make them inaccessible to the public.
#3: Delete Old Email Accounts
In 2017, Google announced that Gmail will no longer be scanned for personalized ads. But many other free emailing services still do. So, you should delete your old AOL or Yahoo email accounts that you no longer use. Some better free options other than Gmail are ProtonMail and StartMail.
#4: Amplify Social Media Privacy
One of the most common places on the internet with the user’s personal information is social media. Every social media website makes money from targeted ads. So, it is more profitable for them if your data is public. Hence, your social media account might be the most significant factor in creating a data trail. If you want to reduce exposure, you should look at social media privacy settings. There are many ways to make your data less public. You can hide your details like name and phone number from search engines. Moreover, you could also use profile guards to keep your information private.
#5: Remove Personal Information from Google
The popular search engine Google is probably the biggest compiler of people’s data. It is the access point for most companies who want to exploit your sensitive details. Although, Google compiles your data to present more accurate search results personalized for you. But if fraudsters get access to the data, they could use it against you.
So, taking the time to remove your personal information from Google might be the best thing to do. You can access Google’s activity controls and manage your web and app activity and YouTube history. Moreover, you should also request Google to remove cached search results related to you. It is also a good idea to select the “auto-delete” option, so Google continually removes your data from its servers.
#6: Check Browser Privacy Settings
Most websites these days ask permission to run cookies. They are meant to track your activity and personalize your site experience. However, hackers can use the same cookies to track your data from website to website. Hackers can get into your system by putting malicious cookies in your browser settings. So, before you agree to cookies, you should understand the implications.
Another way to avoid this is to use web browsers designed to keep privacy a priority. DuckDuckGo and Brave are some great options for secure web browsers.