Data is worth its weight in gold. Something as simple as a user’s address could equal hundreds of dollars for a company. But why is data so valuable? Some companies can easily gather data and sell it all to third parties. For these third parties, user data can be used to improve infrastructure, respond to criticisms, target new demographics, and vice versa. There’s no limit to what companies can do with data.
Unfortunately, data possessing high value means that companies, ISPs, and cybercriminals will do whatever they can to get their hands on your data. However, avoiding giving your data away is difficult. Something as simple as browsing Facebook is enough to send large amounts of your online activity to Facebook, which they can then sell to third parties.
Today, let’s go over a few ways you can protect your data and prevent it from falling into the hands of ISPs and corporations.
5 Ways to Protect Your Data
1. Avoid Free Apps Whenever Possible
Nothing in life is free. This saying goes double for “free” apps because while they won’t require anything from your bank account, they will more than likely collect your data. This is true for most free apps, from your common social media apps to your more niche productivity apps.
That said, there will be times when you need to use a free app. You don’t have to avoid free apps completely, but you do need to vet the ones you download, what permissions they’re asking for, and their general reputation among users.
2. Update Your Software
All software has imperfections, whether its features don’t work properly or a general bugginess surrounding the software that prevents users from getting work done. The good about software, however, is that it can be updated to fix these issues. Updates are vital to creating functioning software and security.
There’s little more important than software updates when it comes to security. Cybercriminals are constantly creating new malware, new viruses, and new ways to steal user data. So, when a program or your operating system prompts you to update, you should take its advice. Why? Because these software updates more often than not include security fixes that will protect your device from the latest known threats.
3. Use a VPN
Cybercriminals love public networks, not because they make the Internet accessible to everyone, but because they lack proper encryption and overall network security, making them hunting grounds for user data.
In general, you should avoid using public networks whenever possible. However, if this isn’t an option, you could always use a VPN to stay private or limit the apps and websites you access while on a public network.
4. Stay Away From Sketchy Apps
A fake app is an app that claims to do one thing but doesn’t do said thing. For example, some apps claim to strengthen your phone’s flashlight. These obviously don’t work and are a waste of storage. But why would a developer go through the trouble of creating fake apps? Typically, they create fake apps, so users are tricked into downloading them. Once the user downloads the app and grants it permission, the app can collect the user’s data in the background.
In short, fake apps are scams that only exist to provide the developer with loads of user data; hence, why you should stay away from any apps that seem suspicious, fake, or otherwise useless.
5. Secure Your Passwords
You should also be particular about your passwords. After all, if a cybercriminal gets their hands on your passwords, nothing is stopping them from stealing all of your data and locking you out of the accounts. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to secure your passwords, from password managers that store and encrypt your passwords to random password generators which allow you to generate unbreakable passwords.
Your data is worth tens to hundreds of dollars to corporations, ISPs, advertisers, and cybercriminals, which is why you should do everything in your power to protect your data at all costs. And fortunately for you, there are dozens of methods to uphold your data’s privacy.