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Checklist – 20 Ways for Users to Protect Online Privacy

As online security continues to be an area of concern, it’s important for users to increase their awareness and enhance their level of protection. Although many feel helpless when it comes to hackers and advertisers, there are steps you can take to better protect your information. The following checklist is a great place to start.

Checklist – Are You Protected?

  • Consider The Onion Router (TOR), which will route your online traffic through numerous encrypted layers. You can find out more information through their website. The best and easiest way to get started is by downloading the Tor Browser Bundle.
  • Invest in a VPN solution to protect your anonymity. By using one of these related services, such as Private Internet Access, your real IP address will be hidden and your traffic will be disguised.
  • Even when your IP address is protected, it’s still possible that you’re leaking information via your DNS traffic. To check, simply pop over to DNSLeakTest.com and run an extended test. If your DNS information shows up, you have a leak and should address it immediately.
  • Utilize virtual machines to avoid opening documents and files on your browser. When you shut-off your virtual machine’s access to the Internet, you can open and read files safely.
  • Block third-party cookies, as they are the most common method that sites use to track your information. When you turn tracking cookies off, advertisers will find it much harder to monitor your activity.
  • Hide your location to avoid targeted advertisements. When not in use, turn your location services off. Remember, if you do not have a VPN, you display your IP every time you surf the web.
  • Enable the ‘Do not track’ HTTP header in your browser’s settings. Although websites are not required to obey this setting, it doesn’t hurt.
  • Effectively manage your plug-ins as they could compromise your anonymity. If you avoid plug-ins, this can make it challenging to use popular sites. It is recommended that you use a hybrid approach – focusing on a number of configurations and the use of sandboxed plug-ins.
  • Block JavaScript, as it can be used to leak your information. To avoid limitations online, look into browser extensions, such as NoScript. Using these extensions, you can give permission to to select domains within your browser.
  • Install Ghostery within Opera, IE, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Using this extension allows you to block trackers, while enabling and disabling tracking as you see fit.
  • Install the Privacy Badger add-on, available for both Firefox and Chrome. As sites try to track your activity, this extension not only monitors these sites, but also prevents future attempts.
  • Install the HTTPS Everywhere extension, in order for your traffic to go through SSL connections. By using this extension, SSL connections will be forced on a wide range of sites.
  • If your browser has WebRTC enabled, your IP address can be accessed. To be safe, disable WebRTC – depending on the browser, you may need to take different courses of action.
  • Even if you’re blocking cookies, some sites can access information via LSOs (Local Shared Objects). To target this issue, install BetterPrivacy, allowing you to manage your LSOs.
  • If you want to test and verify your level of security, head over to com to see what data is available through your current browser.
  • Similarly, you can identify your browser fingerprint by visiting Panopticlick.
  • Ensure that email addresses and passwords are unique across various user accounts. If one account is easily hacked, for instance, that information could be used to access more sensitive information.
  • If using Window’s 10, disable the Wi-Fi Sense feature, as it tracks your private passwords.
  • Keep sensitive files on your home computer, do not send personal emails on a work computer or on a free Wi-Fi network. If you spend a lot of time in hotels or airports, invest in a virtual private network.
  • Get into the habit of reading access privileges for app If an app is free, you’re likely the product. Many apps collect information about their users and then sell it to advertisers. Before you accept, always read through the associated information.
Brunner, G. (2015). The ultimate guide to staying anonymous and protecting your privacy online. Extreme Tech. Retrieved on January 20th, from http://www.extremetech.com/internet/180485-the-ultimate-guide-to-staying-anonymous-and-protecting-your-privacy-online

Paul, I. (2013). 3 essential techniques to protect your online privacy. PC World. Retrieved on January 20th, from http://www.pcworld.com/article/2052813/3-essential-techniques-to-protect-your-online-privacy.html

Lawrence, J., and Rintel, S. (2013). Eight ways to protect your privacy online. The Guardian. Retrieved on January 20th, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/03/eight-ways-to-protect-your-privacy-online