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Tips to Protect Your Personal Information

3 minute read

Given the recent deluge of data breaches hitting the news cycle, I wanted to provide information on some tools for individuals to use to protect their personal data. Some of these tools are free, and others have a service fee.

Making the hard part easy

1Password - because remembering secure passwords without reusing them is almost impossible for most of us. Having the same password across multiple programs and apps is an invitation for identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands.

Don't feed the animals

Privacy Badger - Facebook and Google like to track your every movement, even when you're not on one of their websites. Privacy Badger is like bear spray; it stops them from following you around the web and monetizing your behaviour.

Don't Google, duck

DuckDuckGo - You aren't Google's customer; you're their product. There's nothing objective about the search results that Google shows you; companies that have money will often clutter up search results and make it difficult for you to find things (not to mention the aforementioned tracking creepiness). DuckDuckGo is a great alternative for your day-to-day searching without all of the privacy sacrifices. DDG also has browsers for your iPhone, Android, and Mac OS devices (sorry, Windows users). They also have browser plugins that can protect your privacy if you can't give up on Chrome.

Facebook and Google aren't the only "creeper" companies

Companies that serve up ads have probably gathered a startling amount of information on you - yes, you - already. Put an ad blocker like uBlock Origin on your browser and take control of your privacy again. AdChoices - (you've probably seen their little logo on ads) is an advertising industry initiative and has provided tips for those concerned about "interest-based advertising."

Someone is listening in

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are two of the most popular chat platforms on the planet, but unlike Las Vegas, what happens there, doesn't stay there. Facebook is using all of your conversations so they can better target you with ads. Signal is a secure messaging platform that truly puts you into that cone of silence that you deserve (and probably mistakenly think you currently have).

The Brave choice

65% of people use Chrome as their primary web browser - Google loves that stat. Brave is based on the same code that Chrome and Microsoft Edge are built on but without all the creepy tracking stuff. There's no learning curve here; you will feel right at home with this one. Firefox is another great choice and worth considering.

If you really want to get under the hood to protect your privacy

The non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a wealth of knowledge regarding Surveillance Self-Defence. They cover encryption, secure password creation, how to securely delete your files, using a Visual Private Network, and a lot more.

The existence of such privacy protection tools should send a message to businesses – consumers are concerned about how their personal information is being used. Results from the Cisco 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey show that 37% of respondents have switched companies or providers to better protect their personal information. Companies that choose to ignore data protection are exposing themselves to the risk of losing revenue if their clients move to competitors that are taking it seriously. Management needs to invest in data protection – it has become a necessary cost of doing business. Because consumers simply expect their data to be protected and not misused once shared.

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Alysia M. Christiaen

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