Secure personal information
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Methods to secure personal information on the web

It is an undeniable reality that the business model of many social networks and applications that we use daily is based on personal information as well as demographic details of their users (age, gender, location, consumption habits, etc.).

This information is essential for all those involved in digital business: marketing has undergone a veritable revolution since the explosion of online commerce and uses as much consumer data as possible to achieve its goals.

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But it is also true that there are limits to the use of people’s data and, above all, that everyone should protect themselves against the mishandling of personal information.

There are many options to limit access to your data, many of them do not require any specialised knowledge and are based rather on a series of simple practices, which you could well consider certain hygiene or prophylaxis of your online life.

Here are some of the helpful methods to secure personal information on the web and protect your privacy.

Helpful methods to secure personal information on the web

1. Set personal limits on what is posted on social media

It cannot be denied that one of the most exciting aspects of life online is showing the world everything you know or are capable of doing, counting the things you like or the places you visit often, and even displaying what you eat.

But think about what life was like before the Internet. Would it seem healthy to post such information on large billboards in front of your house or on a busy avenue? Surely, when you think about it that way, it seems very strange to you. Remember: you don’t need to tell the world so many things about yourself, and most people are too busy and concerned with themselves to notice everything you do.

Thus, value your privacy and set limits on the content you are going to share. Before making any updates, ask yourself if it is really necessary. Eventually, you will realise that the world is moving on even without your funny tweets and wonderful Instagram photos.

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2. Find and set privacy settings for the sites you use most frequently

Social networks are refining their privacy options every day, offering more tools to limit third-party access to your personal information. Always look for them, configure them according to your tastes and needs, and have control over what others can know about you.

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3. Be selective in the formation of the group of your social network friends and acquaintances

Perhaps we have all been through that confusing moment when we received a “friend request” from a complete stranger on Facebook. Before accepting it, take the trouble to see their profile, find out if you have friends in common, and try to establish a connection between that person and you.

Be selective: if you don’t know them and feel any suspicion toward them, deny the request or ignore it. Check their identity on PhoneHistory and make sure that the unknown person is not a scammer.

4. Use incognito browsing

This way, your search data will not be stored and you will bypass advertising algorithms. You can also use ad blockers or browsers not based on the contextual advertising model, like DuckDuckGo.

5. Log out whenever you are not using your computer

This is one of the most elementary practices and at the same time most ignored by many people. Every time you use a service from a computer that’s not yours, you will get an alert asking whether you want to save the site’s password on that computer or not. In this case, you should invariably answer “no”.

Also, make it a mandatory rule to log out of email, Twitter, Facebook, or any other services if you access them from a computer that other people can use.

Be thorough. Also, remember that services such as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter offer you the possibility of configuring two-step authentication that will ask you for additional data, such as codes sent to your cell phone if it is detected that you are entering from an IP and from a computer other than the ones you use frequently.

These are small actions that will have a significant impact on the protection of your personal information.

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6. Terms of use

The privacy policies and terms of use of each service are very important to know. They are often so long and inconspicuous that very few users bother to look at them before clicking “I agree”.

Remember that you are basically signing a contract. Learn more about what or who you are saying “yes” to seeing that you are risking personal information.

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7. Use strong passwords

It seems incredible, but the most used password in the world is 123456 followed by 12345678. As if this were not enough, many people use the same password to access all their services.

A basic rule of thumb for security is that you don’t do this and that you make passwords strong enough and inaccessible to even the most powerful brute-force password-cracking systems.

In particular, create complex passwords for those services where you have a lot of valuable information: this includes your financial, cloud storage (such as Dropbox or OneDrive), email services, etc. Doing so will save you a lot of headaches.

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8. Be wary of apps that ask for access to your data or all those that seem fun and irresistible

Do you remember when your grandfather told you that in this life there was nothing free? Take it as truth at least for the Internet world. Protect yourself from scammers.

Any highly viral app (for example, the one that promises to tell you completely useless but apparently funny things about you, like “What Disney princess do you look like?” or “What would Donald Trump say to you on Twitter?”) actually wants your information.

Today, different websites and social media platforms are very entertaining, and spending time on them can be even addictive. However, it is important to be careful with the personal information you share to prevent unscrupulous people from taking it and using it for malicious purposes.

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