The Internet can be a dangerous place thanks to the anonymity it provides. Yet, this anonymity is limited, especially if you take part in questionable Internet browsing activities. Take, for instance, the hack of Ashley Madison, a website dedicated to cheating on one’s spouse. This July, a hacker group called the “Impact Team,” infiltrated the site and is now threatening to expose these cheaters.
We’re not here to chastise Ashley Madison users, we’re sure their spouses are already doing a fine enough job of that. Instead, we want to explain that every Internet user needs to hold themselves accountable for their online actions, like web browsing. If you’re not taking careful steps to keep your identity anonymous while online, you could face serious consequences.
For starters, you should never assume that any one site is invulnerable to hacking attacks. Just last June, even the United States federal government was hacked and the confidential records of 4 million employees were compromised. No single site is capable of warding off all attackers, especially sites which exhibit a high profile.
Essentially, if a skilled hacker wants to find out what you’ve been doing on the Internet, they’ll probably be able to do so. Although, if you take measures to prevent hackers from tracking your online endeavors, you can minimize the chances that they’ll uncover dirt on you. Granted, you may not have anything to hide, but it’s still important that you keep as much sensitive information hidden as possible. You never know who might be watching.
Here are five ways you can minimize how much of your sensitive information can be found online:
Clear Your Browsing History
Clearing your browsing history is often perceived as a sign of sketchy browsing activity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Did you know that deleting your browser’s history is one way to keep hackers from finding your frequently-visited online accounts if your PC were ever to be hacked? Bonus Tip: Many web browsers allow you to have private browsing sessions that don’t store your history locally, like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge. Just keep in mind that your history can still be seen by your Internet Service Provider.
Don’t Use Your Real Name
Easily one of the best ways to keep your online activity from biting back is by not using your real name. This is easier said than done. Although, many websites like Facebook require real names in order to keep people accountable for what they post. Whenever you can conceal your real name, be sure to do so.
Don’t Use Personal Photos
For much the same reason why you don’t want to use your real name, you should avoid using personal photos. This is especially true if you don’t want an account to be traced back to you. Be sure to post a generic image of interest, rather than your kids, house, car, or other personal photos.
Protect Your Credit Card Information
If a hacker is able to capture your credit card information, they may also be able to access to your purchase history. This can be problematic if you’ve purchased something that’s better kept to yourself. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are an anonymous way to shop online, but not all online accounts will accept them. Therefore, using prepaid credit cards that can’t be traced back to you is always a secure online shopping strategy.
Don’t Use Your Personal Email Account
Finally, using your personal email to sign up for accounts online can not only be risky, but it can also be annoying when you have an inbox full of spam. Prevent this by creating a “burner” email account from a free online hosting service like Gmail or Yahoo. It’s a simple and anonymous solution to your anonymity problems. In fact, separating your email accounts like this is recommended to keep hackers from attacking your personal inbox with all of its private and valuable information.
Just because the Internet has grown with the times doesn’t mean that it’s as unregulated as it used to be. These days, it can be a challenge to browse the Internet without encountering some dangerous (or downright sketchy) website or malicious hacker, so you need to take precautions. For more tips and tools to keep your private information secure, call PACE Technical Services at 905.763.7896.