With so many threats to our privacy online—advertisers, social networks, and apps—it’s daunting for everyone to know what to do and how to do it. It’s up to us to find the tools to protect our privacy and security online.
In this post we’ll cover three tools to protect your privacy and prevent advertisers from tracking what you do online. We’ll cover protecting your connection, using a more private browser, and how to keep advertisers from tracking you across the internet.
1. Protect your network with a VPN
The first step to protecting your privacy online is protecting your internet connection. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) secure and encrypt your connection so no one can see what you’re doing online. If you don’t use a VPN, your ISP can see what you’re doing online. A VPN encrypts everything so it’s impossible for someone to decrypt your traffic.
Except the VPN provider themselves.
VPN providers can technically decrypt your information as it passes through their servers. A VPN provider could gather and collect information revealing who you are and what you visit. Good VPN providers don’t do this, but because they can, it’s important to look into the company before you trust them.
Here are four VPN providers that have a good record for protecting your privacy:
- Windscribe (free and paid, iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, Linux)
- TorGuard (paid only, iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, & Linux)
- Private Internet Access (paid only, iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, & Linux)
- TunnelBear (free and paid, iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows)
2. Use a privacy-focused browser
There are three leading private-focused browsers: Tor Browser, Brave, and Firefox. The browser that is right for you will depend on the level of privacy you require and what you want to achieve online. This balance is important to keep in mind because if you turn on the strictest privacy controls within these browsers, some sites won’t load correctly. Also, you might not be able to check your email, watch videos, or use social media sites. You’ll still need to use a “regular” browser for email and social media.
The Tor Browser works over the Tor network to split up and hide your IP address and other information. Tor does have some downsides. You’re going to be browsing slower no matter what. Requests pass through hundreds of servers before you get where you’re going. That takes extra time. But for many the benefit of anonymous and secure browsing is worth the trade-off.
Brave uses Chromium so it’s compatible with many Chrome extensions. It offers a wide range of security and privacy features making it the top choice for many people. Brave doesn’t have some of the speed issues Tor Browser and claims to be faster than Chrome over all.
Firefox from Mozilla is one of the oldest browsers around. Once a leading browser, now it’s positioning itself as a privacy-focused alternative. Unlike Tor or Brave, Firefox doesn’t rely on another open-source project as its foundation. Because Firefox isn’t built on Chromium, it can’t run Chrome extensions. If you need a particular tool/extension you use in Chrome, make sure there is a version for Firefox before switching browsers entirely.
The browser you pick has a lot to do with what you need and how it fits in with what you do online. Digitaltrends has a good review of all these browsers so you can make your own choice.
3. Use an ad blocker
Some browsers, like Brave, include ad blocking by default, but if your browser doesn’t have a built-in ad blocker, you should download one for your browser.
Ad blockers shouldn’t interfere with your browsing too much. You will see a significant speed boost when you’re browsing. Serving ads, and all the code that goes with them, takes time to load. If you find you have problems on certain sites, most ad blockers let you whitelist sites so you can browse that site “normally” and still protect yourself elsewhere.
There are a lot of ad blockers out there, Tom’s guide has a good review of different options for all the major browsers.
Bonus: Try a different search engine
The last thing you can do to protect your privacy is to switch to DuckDuckGo as your default search engine. Google is well known for tracking, and profiting from, your search information through ads. A lot of people consider Google a media company, not a search engine.
You can switch to DuckDuckGo as your default browser in Chrome by going to your settings. Here are instructions from DuckDuckGo themselves on how to do it. They also have a privacy extension that blocks ads, forces HTTPS encryption and more.
Privacy is in your hands
Using any or all of these three tips will help you to protect your privacy when browsing online.
However, these tips are just part of what you need to do to protect your privacy online. From checking your privacy settings to keeping passwords up to date to changing how you communicate with friends—the security of your online activities and how you exercise your right to privacy is in your hands.
We strongly believe privacy is a fundamental human right. We built SKY ECC so everyone can communicate securely without the risk of identity or intellectual property theft or corporate espionage. Don’t take your privacy for granted. SKY ECC is the most secure communications platform available. Join tens of thousands of people who protect their communications and buy a SKY ECC device today.
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Note: Sky ECC or our parent company Sky Global is not affiliated with any of the companies listed here and did not receive compensation to mention their products in this post.