If there’s one thing that Corona has taught us, then it is that the future is more online and digital than ever. Positive in the midst of all this misery and dictatorial traits of local governments, is the growing awareness among tormented taxpayers that they can work from anywhere. Because you don’t have to be Nostradamus to realize that the present policy of the government will end in a huge tax tsunami that will drag the few entrepreneurs who will still stand after this crisis, into unprecedented depths. So if you can, pack your bags and work from a tax-friendly jurisdiction. This is 100% legal!
And so for these new pioneers, here are some tips to increase your online privacy!
Passwords, bank details, credit card numbers and private keys of crypto coins: hackers go out of their way to extract this valuable information from users. And if possible, they do it unnoticed, by hacking into your connection, installing malware or making you click on a deceptive link.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do yourself to preserve your privacy. The following 7 tips will help you to be less traceable, so you can surf the web, travel and do business with peace of mind.
- Use an incognito window
- Even better: install a different browser
- Get a VPN
- Avoid public networks
- Use a different search engine
- Be critical when you click
- Limit your visibility on social media
1. Use an incognito window
A browser usually stores an entire list of websites you have visited, temporary Internet files and cookies. These make it easier for you to return to your desired site, which then loads a little faster. But do those advantages outweigh the disadvantage of that invasion of your privacy?
If you occasionally share your computer, even with your partner and/or child, you don’t want them to see what gift you were shopping for or what sweet treat you have in store for them. In Chrome, you can open an Incognito window where your browsing data is not saved. In Firefox, this option is called Private Browsing and Internet Explorer calls it In Private Browsing.
Private Browsing ensures that you don’t leave a trace on your computer, but the owner of the modem or the ISP can still watch. That does not mean that this happens all the time, but it is a (small) risk. Combine this tip with the tips below.
2. Even better: install a different browser
The giants behind Chrome, Safari or Edge make money from information. In other words, they can use or sell your browsing data. Fortunately, there are many browsers that do prioritise privacy. Brave is a popular example: this internet browser is open-source, blocks trackers and removes intrusive advertising banners. Epic is a browser with a built-in VPN – have a look below. Thanks to this feature, your data traffic remains hidden from employers, Internet service providers and government agencies.
3. Get a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an encrypted connection within another network. You camouflage your IP address, making you virtually untraceable. What does this look like in practice? After installing a VPN tool you choose from which country you want to connect to the internet: for example the US, the Netherlands or Singapore.
A VPN is not only useful if you are in a country that prohibits access to certain websites, as is the case with Google in China or Facebook in Iran. In fact, you should always use a VPN to remain anonymous and make it more difficult for hackers to steal your personal information.
4. Avoid public networks
If the owner of a wifi network is a bit wifty, he can see which websites you’re visiting and what data you are typing. Such an owner doesn’t necessarily have to be a bar owner or hotel manager: a hacker can create a Wi-Fi hotspot and name it ‘Starbucks_free_wifi’ or ‘Hilton_guest_acces’, for example. In this video, you can see what is possible and what dangers you are facing.
That’s why you should rather create a wifi hotspot with your smartphone. That way, you won’t share your internet connection with anyone and you won’t have to worry about hackers peeking along. At least, on your side of the connection. With search engines and websites you still want to be careful.
5. Use a different search engine
Chances are that you initially found this site on Google, and we are grateful for that. But this search engine is not really healthy for your privacy. Google saves your search history and your clicks. This allows Google’s customers to make their ads as relevant as possible to you.
Search engines that aren’t interested in who you are, what kind of device you use and where you connect from are the decent DuckDuckGo and the more visual Qwant. A bare-bones alternative is SearX, a search engine that ‘picks’ the results of other search engines. The fact that it is open source means that a large community of programmers watches over privacy.
6. Be critical when you click
A link is not always what the accompanying text or image promises. For example, many links are affiliate links: the website owner gets money when you click through or place an order. Other links, for example to video or download sites, will result in a storm of pop-ups, scripts and unwanted downloads. So keep your eyes peeled.
Creepy attempts at phishing. You’ll receive an email that looks exactly like an email from your bank, for example. When you click on a link in that e-mail, the same thing happens again: you will be taken to a site that is identical to that of your bank. But if you look closely in the address bar, you will see that you are not at all on that website of your bank!
7. Limit your visibility on social media
Do you like to put beautiful pictures on Instagram, or checking in to those exotic destinations with Facebook? Is Twitter your brain dump? If you like privacy, take a good look at your social media accounts. How much information can non-followers or non-friends see? And how can malicious parties use that information to their advantage?
For example, live-sharing your location is not a good idea. Instagram girls have had unwanted visits to restaurants after sharing their dinners live. Houses have been ransacked because burglars discovered on social media that the owners weren’t at home. If you have to share something, do so afterwards. But it’s best to remain an International (Wo)Man of Mystery.