Today, when we’re looking for something we need, we usually turn to the internet for help. We visit a search engine, type in a query, and take a look at the results. We have all become spoiled by having all the world’s information place at our fingertips. On the other hand, we may not realize just how vulnerable our personal information is when we browse online. It is important to understand how we can protect ourselves when we browse the internet.
What Are the Threats on the Internet Today?
In general, there are two broad categories of privacy threats that exist on the internet today. The first involves threats that could take your entire network, server, or computer offline. These take the form of ransomware, DDoS attacks, trojan horses, worms, and other dangerous viruses that could steal your information, delete files, corrupt information, and destroy your computer.
The other type of threat seeks to sell your personal information for gain. Have you ever wondered how a certain website knew to target an advertisement to you? There is a good chance they are tracking your browsing history. Then, based on the types of products and services you search for on the internet, they target advertisements to you. Websites collect your information and sell it to third parties so they can increase their conversion rates with certain advertisements.
Both of these are serious issues that impact your privacy. How can you protect yourself?
What Does a Private Browser Do?
Many major browsers have something called a private browsing window. Also called incognito mode, your web browser will not record a list of the websites you visit. If you do not want people with physical access to your system to take a look at the websites you are visiting, this is useful. They also use something called a tracker blocker, which will block a list of known trackers that otherwise collect information regarding your personal identity. If you visit a certain website, this software program will detect those trackers. Then, they will restrict them from following your footsteps around the internet.
There are newer, lesser-known web browsers, such as DuckDuckGo and Brave, that use private browsing modes by default.
What Does a Private Browser Not Do?
The one downside of using a private browser is that other people may still be able to take a look at the websites you are visiting. For example, your internet provider can still see a list of websites you visit. Furthermore, if you are trying to hide your browsing history on a work computer from your employer, a private browser may not completely conceal your footprints. If you truly want to protect your personal information from everyone when you browse the internet, you need to take advantage of other tools.
How Else Can You Protect Yourself?
One of the most important tools you should be using to protect yourself online is called a virtual private network. Usually shortened to VPN, this is a tool that can make you virtually anonymous when you browse the internet.
A VPN encrypts your information by scrambling your IP address. Your IP address is like a digital fingerprint. Anyone with access to your IP address may be able to see your physical location and your browsing history. A VPN will change your IP address regularly while encrypting your data while you browse online, making it nearly impossible for people to track you.
If you really want to protect yourself online, use a VPN to protect yourself and your personal data from harm.