You’re probably tired of hearing about your privacy. You think you have it all under control, don’t you?
Did you know that once you post something, it effectively belongs to the public? Did you know that your future employers could be looking through your social media feed as you read this?
Just because your accounts are set to private does not mean your sensitive information is protected. Unfortunately, simply browsing using incognito mode or clearing your cookies isn’t enough to protect your privacy online anymore. In 2021, even a private social media account isn’t enough to secure your data. In this article, we go over several ways your data can be compromised online and what you can do about it.
What’s a proxy?
A proxy server acts as a middleman between you and the internet. This means that internet traffic flows through the proxy to the site you want to visit. A good proxy provider will allow you to change your IP address and other identifiable information, effectively shielding your device from being identified and tracked.
Buying a proxy is an excellent investment to make if you’re serious about your privacy online. It’ll handle all the aspects of your privacy that you can’t, like switching your IP addresses routinely and masking your location.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the proxy waters, Smartproxy is an excellent proxy provider to try. It allows you to change your location to virtually any country in the world, so websites you visit will think you’re surfing from a different place altogether. You’ll receive access to 40 million rotating IPs with the choice to either rotate your IP with every new request or keep the same IP for up to 30 minutes.
How can a proxy protect your privacy?
A proxy will mask your IP address and location, making it difficult for servers and websites you visit to track you. It can even make multiple clients appear to come from a single computer.
Above this, proxies also help you access content restricted to a geo-location. For instance, if you want to access content specific to the UK, UK proxies can help you in this endeavor.
What are the threats you face online?
Ignorance isn’t bliss when we’re dealing with data theft. The more you know about your enemy, the better you can prepare yourself. Here are two main ways your data is being taken from you online:
Fingerprinting is a new method employed by advertisers to identify you. The process begins when you visit a website. The site takes note of key characteristics of your device, like your operating system and what language you’re browsing in. This data is later used to identify you, and you’ll be assigned a fingerprint. This allows advertisers to target individuals specifically rather than targeting broad demographics.
The main issue with fingerprinting is this: Unlike cookies, you can’t just delete a fingerprint. A fingerprint isn’t easy to change either – it’s made up of unique features of your devices, like your screen resolution, your IP address and the type of fonts you have installed.
So, if you thought deleting your cookies and changing your IP address would instantly make you untraceable, think again.
Many people attempt to thwart this by using certain browser extensions like Ghostery or Do Not Track Me. However, this might just have the opposite effect. Due to the uniqueness of your browser’s configuration, it might be even easier to identify you.
“Scraper” bots use fake accounts to trawl social media sites and web pages to harvest information that could be useful to advertisers. These include the number of likes on your posts and who your followers are.
Unlike fingerprinting, web scraping is a little easier to protect against. Firstly, you should go through who follows you on your social media accounts. If you don’t recognize any of them, you may have added a scraper bot by accident. This is a typical practice used by these bots, as most people simply accept everyone who requests to follow them. Secondly, you should set your accounts to private and be careful of whom you accept future requests from. When your account is set to private, only your followers will have access to what you post.
Your data should belong to you and no one else. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed.
We’re living in a new era now, one where today’s dinner table conversations become tomorrow’s advertisements. Aside from using a proxy, there isn’t much you can do to protect your privacy online without drastically changing your lifestyle. Make sure you do the usual steps: clearing your cookies regularly, only accessing safe, reputable sites, and you’ll be one step closer to leading a more private life on the internet.