|As a cruelly labeled “geriatric millennial,” I’m part of a generation that grew up without the internet in our daily lives but took to it as soon as it was available. As a kid, I spent as much time playing outside as I spent on internet bulletin boards and GeoCities sites as a teenager. During my time online, I quickly learned that while the internet was framed as a haven of anonymity, the ads that seemed to follow me wherever I went told a different story.
Big companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have made a lot of money over the years on the back of our browsing habits. Unfortunately, we’ve also given away plenty of personal data voluntarily, as well as against our will, through breaches and hacks. It’s frustrating. Should we all give up and let the powers-that-be keep track of our every online interaction?
Of course not. As PCMag’s Features Editor Eric Griffith writes, there are easy ways for everyone to minimize their online footprints and make themselves harder to track. For example, using a burner phone or an app that creates anonymous phone numbers to make calls and send texts can improve your privacy. Another way to make yourself harder to track and hack is by maintaining a firewall on your home network. In addition to these methods, you should also enable privacy browser extensions, surf in anonymous mode, turn on a VPN, send encrypted emails, avoid clicking on spam links, and lockdown (or eliminate) your social media.
All of these tips are pretty easy to follow, but they add an extra step or two to your online routine. The big companies mining your data hope you don’t have the time or the desire to complete these tasks to stay anonymous online. Show them your privacy is worth the trouble. Take the time today to lock down your online life.
PCMag Security Analyst