In 2018, keeping your information private online is very important. Most of what we at the VPN Guru write about has to do with keeping your online privacy as secure as possible. We’ve been noticing, though, that there are a lot of myths circulating about staying private online. In this article, we’re going to be debunking 5 of the most common online privacy myths. We’re also going to be giving you some tips on maintaining the highest level of online privacy average internet users can have.
Myth 1: Private or Incognito Mode Adds to Online Privacy
Most browsers have an option of going “Private” or “Incognito”. A lot of people think that this feature means that you are browsing the web privately and can’t have your information hacked while in this mode. The truth of the matter is that Incognito or Private tabs only keep your browsing information private from other people who have access to your device. Your traffic and data are still as accessible as they are on a normal browser.
Incognito tabs are good for not saving searches and history on your device. They also stop websites from collecting cookies. They do not, in any way, keep you safe from a possible hack. Websites can still fingerprint users and identify your IP even if you’re using your browser’s private mode.
Myth 2: If Your Social Media Accounts are Private, Your Data is Private
All of your social media accounts do have privacy options in their settings. With Facebook, for example, you can hide your posts, friends list, and updates from being public. You can also pick and choose who can view what on your profile. The thing is, though, not everything can be made private. To add to that, having your information “private” on social media doesn’t mean your data isn’t being stored. Whatever you put on your social media account will get stored by the SM platform you’re using.
Users don’t really have a say in what happens with their data after they share it on social media, and a hack into the platform compromises your data and the data of other users as well. When it comes to being safe while using social media, it’s not enough to go through your privacy settings. You should be conscious of what you put on social media, and keep anything that can be detrimental to your privacy to yourself.
Myth 3: Hackers Only Go After “Important” People
A lot of people think that hackers only go after “big fish”. It is true that people with more to lose have a higher chance of being targeted, but the average internet user isn’t exactly safe. In fact, it’s more common to fall prey to a wide hack that it is to be individually targeted. Think about it this way: Would you rather try to hack one person or guarantee a wide hack on many people?
The scary part here is that hackers generally aim to target as many people as they can. DDoS attacks, for example, require a huge amount of hacked individuals to work. In other words, it doesn’t matter who you are, you are at risk of being hacked.
Myth 4: Your Online Privacy is Safe if You’re Offline
Some people think that hacks are only possible if you’re online. Being disconnected does lessen your chances of being subject to specific internet based hacks. It does not, however, prevent hacks entirely.
Viruses and malware can still affect your data if you’re not online. They can easily be passed on to new devices without using the internet. This is why it’s always important to have an advanced security program that can find and quarantine malicious files.
Myth 5: All VPNs and Security Software Guarantee Total Online Privacy
This requires a little bit of explaining since a VPN’s purpose is to add security and privacy online. First off, if it’s a free VPN service then it’s probably not offering the service it’s advertizing.
Free VPNs usually collect data on their users. They can sell that data to other third parties, who themselves are at risk of being hacked into. VPNs who keep logs on their users can also be hacked themselves, which is why the concept of a zero-log policy is very important in the VPN world.
A credible, reliable, paid VPN provider can protect your data online. Couple it with a secure Anti-Virus program, and you’ve got yourself a decent defense mechanism against potential attacks. All of this doesn’t matter, though, because there will always be a weak point: You. Your activity online, your password and browsing habits, and your susceptibility to falling prey to social engineered hacks all put your data at risk.
A VPN, like ExpressVPN (the best VPN on the market), can protect you while you’re online, but you need to help out too by making sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk. Don’t open files and emails from untrusted sources and educate yourself on possible online scams to stay safe.
The Truth About Online Privacy – Final Thoughts
We live in interconnected times, so it doesn’t do well to believe that our data flows through the internet through interconnected sites. The reason online privacy is so hard to achieve is that people have no control over how their data is treated by websites and platforms online.
You can control certain aspects of your data’s life-cycle from your settings, but once the data becomes part of the site’s database, you are no longer in control. This is why it’s very important that you get yourself a great VPN and couple it with anti-malware and anti-virus programs that constantly update their software.
Don’t worry, though. If you’ve taken the steps to stay safe online, the chances of you being hacked aren’t that high anymore. A hacker would much rather go to an easier target, and your VPN and Anti-Virus makes you anything but easy.
A reader, writer, and avid internet user. Hiba has spent the better part of her adult life looking for ways to have a safer and more user-friendly online experience, all while praising the uses of VPN connections to anyone who would listen.