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Protect Your Online Privacy Using a VPN

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in PrivacyDecember 23, 2021

Privacy is a big deal these days with talk on the news of threats coming from hackers, big-name corporations, marketing agencies, and even the government. As a consumer and user of technology, you need to know how to protect your private information and keep yourself safe.

Protect Your Online Privacy Using a VPN

Threats to Your Privacy

Edward Snowden was in the news this week urging consumers to stop using Express VPN after the company was recently purchased by an Israeli cyber security company, Kape. The warning specified that ExpressVPN’s CIP, Daniel Gericke, former U.S. Intelligence officer, is one of three men who admitted to helping the UAE government hack targeted individuals to spy on them. Included in their target list, the operatives spied on heads of state, famous people, and American activists, among others.

ExpressVPN did not deny the information and confirmed that they were aware of Gericke’s history when they hired him. However, due to his extensive IT background, they were willing to overlook the unethical behavior of his past. 

The story above is just one instance of the numerous threats to your privacy. Another is the news that Apple plans on scanning content stored in the iCloud from every user’s device looking for signs of child abuse. The resulting backlash from that announcement has caused a public uproar, and Apple has put the new feature on hold “for now.” However, it’s only a matter of time before this, and other subversive changes are instituted without public knowledge, and your personal privacy will only appear in the rearview mirror.

When multi-billion-dollar corporations and the government aren’t trying to invade your privacy, hackers and thieves are. If you take advantage of free Wi-Fi at the public library or your favorite coffee shop, you could be the victim of a man-in-the-middle attack, and someone could easily install spyware on your device and watch, hear, and see everything you do. 

Suppose you receive a phishing email and click a link and are taken to a fake website (that looks legitimate). In that case, you could enter personal information delivering it right into the hands of cybercriminals. Crooks are getting very good at tricking unsuspecting victims into fraud using legitimate-looking emails, SMS texts, and even social media ads. They also use social engineering to get you to trust them by impersonating tech support or other professionals. 

Bad actors have dozens of techniques to steal personal information and invade your privacy. Thankfully, there are things you can do to stop them and protect yourself. 

Tools to Protect Your Privacy

Tech companies have made millions creating different tools to help users protect their privacy. However, as a consumer, it can be hard to tell the difference between a scam and a useful product. Some of these products were developed with fraud in mind.

One of the most valuable tools to protect your personal privacy while online is a VPN. However, there are lots of popular VPNs out there, and you should research them thoroughly before choosing. Read reviews and consult the technology experts when shopping for a VPN. 

Another built-in tool to protect your privacy is the configuration settings of every app you use. For example, most people use social media. Within each social media account are privacy settings that you can use to make sure your personal information stays private. Your mobile device and internet browser also include settings that you can use to tighten up your security. 

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network tool, and it masks your IP address and hides your online activities so that hackers can’t intercept it and steal your personal information. A VPN encrypts your browsing and online activities to create a private tunnel that no one can see but you. 

VPNs are often used by companies to allow its remote workforce to connect to the office and access company resources. However, you can also purchase a personal VPN to protect your device or entire home network. 

How a VPN Protects Your Privacy

A VPN can protect against man-in-the-middle attacks by encrypting the connection between your device and the website you are visiting. So, if you do log in at the coffee shop and use a VPN, any nearby hackers sniffing for traffic won’t see yours. 

If you install a VPN on your router, you can automatically protect all your IoT (internet of things) devices as well as your computer and mobile phone. Just be sure that when you shop around for a VPN, you find a reputable company that does not log your history or save any of your data. 

A VPN can also hide your IP address and your online shopping preferences, so you don’t get hounded by pesky advertisers who are tracking your buying habits for marketing purposes. 

How to Find out if Your Personal Information is Online

Unfortunately, by now, you have probably been included in one of the many data breaches, and some of your personal information may already be online. Protecting yourself in the future is great, but it’s also essential to find out what personal details are out there about you so you can secure them or take quick action to protect your identity. 

Using a handy tool like InfoTracer, you can enter your name and see all kinds of information from public records and other private data sources, and even the dark web. If your information is out there and being sold or passed around by hackers, you can find out about it and secure your privacy. A search will tell you things like criminal records, arrests, liens, court cases, bankruptcies, dark web data, IP address (if it is exposed), driving records, sex crimes, deep web scan, email accounts, social media handles, police records, property records, usernames, and more. 

You may be shocked at how much of your information is out there on the web. The good news is, once you know the score, you can take steps to secure your details and protect your privacy. 

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