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10 Online Privacy Tips

August 29, 2018

1. Keep your contact information private.

When a website asks for your information, you don’t have to share it. If you must give it out, use an alias with sites you don’t trust. You can start a separate email account for shopping or signing up for new accounts; be sure not to mix it with the address you use for friends and others you trust- that’s how they connect your activities to you. The best way to do this is with Blur, which allows you to ‘Mask’ your identity by generating a new email addresses and strong passwords each time you are asked to create an online account.

When creating security questions for online accounts, use “fake” answers that only you know – anyone can Google your mother’s maiden name, or figure out your high school mascot.

2. Take back control of your social media.

Facebook lets you change your privacy settings, so take advantage of them. We recommend turning tagging suggestions OFF, turning tag and profile review ON, and only sharing your posts and photos with friends. (Here’s how to do all of those things.) If you are sharing with ‘friends of friends’, more than 150,000 people on average can see your information.

3. Delete what’s out there.

There are countless companies (and new ones appearing all the time) called data brokers, who find information about you and post it publicly online. This could include your name, age, phone number, even your home address! They will sell this information to anyone with a few bucks to spare– stalkers, potential employers, anyone. You can remove your listing on these sites with DeleteMe’s DIY Guide, but the process can be very tedious and time-consuming. Instead, you can use DeleteMe, which removes your information from the biggest data brokers for just $129/ year.

Request that a company delete the information they have about you once you no longer need their service. E.g. if you change healthcare providers, contact the old healthcare provider to delete the information that they have about you.

4. Use a password manager.

Using unique passwords for each account is key to keeping your personal information private and safe. If somebody guesses your password for one account, it’s then easier to guess the passwords for other accounts.  This is where a password manager like Blur comes in- it generates strong passwords for you, and keeps them all safely in one place.

5. Use Two-Factoractor Authentication (2FA or MFA) whenever possible.

Two-Factor Authentication requires you to use two “factors” in order to gain to access sensitive information – for example, when logging into your Amazon account – providing an extra layer of security. In addition to a username and password, you’re usually required to provide a “single-use” code when logging in. In most cases, you can have a code sent to your phone. Using 2FA makes gaining access to your online accounts nearly impossible for hackers and data thieves.

6. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, will reroute your IP address, disguising and encrypting your browsing traffic while you surf the web. Without a VPN, your Internet Service Provider (e.g. Comcast or Verizon) can monitor your browsing activities.  This may be used for marketing purposes, or to sell the information to other businesses and advertisers. Similarly, using a VPN will keep hackers from being able to intercept your browsing activities – a common practice among ID thieves.

Avoid public wifi hotspots at all costs. If you must use them, be sure to protect yourself with a VPN.

7. Stop secret tracking.

There are thousands of hidden “trackers” online  that follow your every move when surfing the web. You can stop them with a tracker blocker like Blur, which blocks marketer’s attempts to track your browsing activities, and it even blocks their attempts at re-targeting you on different websites that you visit in the future.

8. Use a private browser.

A private browser will not track your online activity. You’ll be able to use the internet without your browser saving things like cookies, temporary files, and a history of the pages you visit. Incognito on Chrome does this but only to some extent. Try Epic, Brave, or Blur Private Browser (iOS app only).

9. Use an encrypted messaging app.

This will ensure that only the people who are able to read the conversation are the ones who participated in it. This way, you can prevent snooping and make sure that your messages aren’t being used for marketing and advertising. Whatsapp is a popular one.

10. Use a private email client.

Email clients like Gmail or Yahoo read your emails in order to send you ads. Instead, consider using a client like Fast Mail or Proton Mail, who won’t read your emails. If you don’t want to give up your current email address, you can use Blur’s Masked Email feature for your online accounts and shopping. You can prevent Masked Emails from forwarding to your account, so they cannot be used in marketing.

If you don’t like it, speak up!

You have the right to privacy, but you need to stand up to protect that right. If you’re not happy with a site’s privacy policy or your not happy with how they treat your personal information, speak up! Support organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Sign petitions and talk to people you know about why privacy matters. The more people are talking, the harder we are to ignore!

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