5 Ways to Secure Your Personal Data when Browsing the Web
Summary: This blog highlights 5 best practices you should adopt to ensure a secure browsing experience. These practices help you to safeguard your online privacy and protects your sensitive data from unauthorized access. You will also learn about BitRaser File Eraser, a professional file erasing software, which efficiently erases your online activities data and ensures that the data does not fall into the wrong hands.
The Internet of today is efficient and fast but not very safe. Cases of identity theft, credit card fraud, online virus attacks come on the news almost every day.
An antivirus can only protect you to a certain extent, but it is the individual’s responsibility to establish and maintain secure browsing hygiene.
Maintaining browsing hygiene consists of adopting a few best practices, using recommended tools and techniques, etc. These practices make your browsing experience more secure and ensure that your personal data is not compromised.
In this blog, we will explore these best practices for securing the personal data while browsing the Internet.
1. Regularly clean your browsing history
The most important step of all, regularly cleaning your browsing history is essential in safeguarding your online privacy. Your browser can track and save the details of almost everything—the websites you visit, your social media credentials, credit card details, online banking login info, etc. Your data is stored in the browser in the form of cookies, and a breach of browsing data can land you in a lot of trouble. One example of browser vulnerability is the Diginotar hacking. In 2011, the Iranian government hacked a Dutch company called as Diginotar which issued digital certificates. The hackers then mimicked popular sites like Google and Gmail. When victims logged into their account, they were actually accessing pages that were compromised. The hackers used this tactic to spy on more than 300,000 Iranians. The incident, when came into light, changed the browsing landscape forever. It introduced new guidelines on how companies issued security certificates and exposed the vulnerabilities of browsers
How to clean your browsing histories?
Regularly Clearing your browsing history can protect you from similar vulnerabilities. The easiest way to clean-up your browsing history is by using the browser setting. Every browser has an option which allows you to delete the Internet history data and other items such as cookies, caches, saved passwords, etc. E.g. in Google Chrome, the option can be found in More tools > Clear Browsing Data. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+Del.
Nevertheless, the data deleted by this method is not permanent. A data recovery software can easily recover your deleted browsing data such as cookie file stored on the local system and expose your data for unauthorized access.
Consider a scenario where you are using a shared computer. You have just surfed the web, and before logging off, you clear the browsing history data by using your browser settings. The person who uses the computer next can run a data recovery software and extract all the browsing information you thought you had deleted. So, clearing your browsing details through browser settings is easy but not effective.
The only fail-safe way to permanently erase your browsing data and protect your online privacy is to use a file erasure software. A file erasure software overwrites on top of the data you want to delete and ensures that no data recovery software can recover your information. One of the most trusted file erasure software is BitRaser File Eraser, which efficiently erases all your online activities, including cookies and saved passwords, beyond the scope of recovery.
An easy-to-use DIY tool, BitRaser File Eraser assures you of a permanent and secure erasure. This way, it protects your online privacy and gives you total control of your data. In addition to erasing online data, BitRaser File Eraser can also erase files, folders, application traces, etc. from your system. It is available for both PC and Mac.
2. Password guidelines
Passwords are the key to your personal, professional and financial details. If you lose the key, anyone can open the lock and gain access to your sensitive data. Safe browsing hygiene starts with the following password guidelines:
a. Keep your password strong: Always use a strong combination of letters, numerals and special characters while setting up a password. Plus, ensure that your password contains a mix of lower and uppercase letters.
b. Have unique passwords: One key shouldn’t open all locks. It is important to have unique passwords for different sites. This way, you limit the extent of the damage if a hacker gains access to one of your passwords.
c. Don’t use ‘Save password’ feature: Whenever you surf the web, your browser tells you to save the passwords. It is ‘NOT’ safe to have your browser store the passwords. Browser data is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and identity theft.
3. Avoid Click-Bait
It is important to be ‘smart’ about what you click on the Internet. If a link on the web or an email looks suspicious, then it probably is. These links (called phishing links) can automatically download harmful programs on your computer. So, don’t fall prey to these links and avoid them altogether.
Click baits can sometimes look like harmless ads with flashy headlines. Their objective is to lure you to their site and then dupe you. For e.g. few years ago, hundreds of innocent people clicked on a link that advertised information on the missing Malaysian MH370 jet. Once on the page, they were asked to update the software so that they could watch the video related to the missing plane. When they updated the software, a malware got downloaded into the system.
Now a days, many applications offer click-bait prevention features. For e.g. apps like Gmail sends susceptible emails directly to spam folder. You can also opt for appropriate ad blocker extensions on your browser. These extensions block the incoming ads and this way your browsing remains secure.
4. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentications are an added layer of security (on top of the username-password combination) that restrict entry to your online account. Applications such as Gmail, Dropbox, and Evernote etc. offer two-factor authentication. If you see the option of ‘Two-factor authentication’ in any of the application you use, then turn it “On”.
Take one example. A two-factor authentication will ensure that while logging into ‘net banking’, you enter the OTP sent to your mobile phone along with the user-id and password. So, a person in possession of your online banking credentials will still need the OTP, sent for individual transaction on your mobile, to complete the transaction.
5. Use VPN
Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs) are a great way to secure your browsing experience. They are mainly required when you are surfing over an unreliable/untrusted Wi-Fi network. VPNs enable a secure connection between your computer and the Internet, and encrypt the data which is exchanged. A VPN encrypts your online communication, making it impossible for anyone to track your online activities. It does that by hiding your digital footprints from anyone who tries to monitor your online activities. In addition, a VPN hides your IP address thus not allowing advertisers to shoot those annoying targeted ads while you’re browsing.
VPN’s can also enhance your browsing experience by preventing ‘bandwidth throttling’ which occurs when your Internet provider lowers your bandwidth. VPN’s can bypass those network congestions and improve the quality of your browsing.
You can also run VPN straight from your browser. This way, all the devices connected to your network can securely access the Internet. Read this article on how to setup VPN on your browser.
Windows 10 also has a built-in feature to setup the VPN. It can be setup by few command functions on your Windows PC. Read this article for the step-by-step procedure.
To sum it up, we spend a considerable time every day on the Internet and it is of utmost importance that our experience remains reliable and secure. In this blog, we discussed the best practices to protect your browsing history, such as regularly clearing your browsing history, password guidelines, VPN adoption, etc. We also learnt in depth about the importance of permanently erasing your online data and the usage of an efficient file erasure software like BitRaser File Eraser.
The Internet isn’t a very safe space, and you should take all precautions in ensuring that your personal data is protected from online breaches and attacks. The techniques and tools described in the blog can be a valuable ally in making your browsing secure