Matt Langford

March 18, 2021

Privacy and the Internet

Privacy is a tricky and subjective topic, especially as it relates to the internet. What can the government see? What do social media networks know? What can my nefarious neighbor access? Is it ok to put my social security number in this application? How do I remember a thousand different passwords?

While the landscape is ever changing, there are a few things you can do right now to help protect you and your family. 

Use a Password Manager

This is the low hanging fruit. If you’re using the same password everywhere, you’re an easy target. Even adding an exclamation point at the end of a password won’t help you. Longer, random passwords are one of the main keys to security and privacy online.

A lot of browsers have this feature already. You can click a button and it’ll generate a password that looks something like “s3&Pklt980$h37k@0.” Obviously, you’ll never remember that. The browser stores that password for you on your device and autofills it for you when it’s needed.

This is great if you only use one or two devices on a daily basis. However, if you need something more flexible and robust, consider using 1Password for even more functionality. If you want to stick to the built-in browser method, use Authy for two factor authentication when possible.

Don’t Share Your Wifi Password

Sure, you may trust your family and friends, but do you really trust their devices? You shouldn’t. Most modern day routers allow you to enable a guest network that’s walled off from your main network. Use this feature. Don’t allow anyone access to your main Wifi network.

Content and Ad Blockers

Most devices allow you to enable content and/or ad blockers when browsing the internet. Since ad networks and providers are the leading forces behind privacy invasion, these can save the day. If you want an app for your iPhone or Mac that just works, try Wipr. If you like to tinker with settings, go with 1Blocker. There are many other options for all devices.

Ditch Facebook

Social media is built on the basis of over-sharing and invasion of privacy. In a perfect world, we could all delete every social media account and maintain our happiness and social connections. But I’m not asking you to do that today.

Facebook is the main culprit of privacy invasion among social networks, so if you can delete just one…this is it. Surely you can still be happy with Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, etc.

Go DuckDuckGo and Others

Leave Google behind. As great as Google is for finding what we need online, they keep more information on you than anyone. For search, use DuckDuckGo instead (you can set it as a default on your devices). Search for Gmail alternatives that won’t track you (I use iCloud). 

And More…

These tips are just a few of the many things you can do to increase your privacy and security online. You can use VPNs to add even more on top of everything else, but those require a little bit of nerdiness. 

The most important tip I can give you is to be careful and smart. Don’t email your social security number. Don’t post political rants on social media. Be careful what photos you share. Don’t let every app track your location. Audit your privacy settings on your phone and social media networks.

Be safe out there!