The Internet has undoubtedly made your life easier.
You can find just about anything on it from the comfort of your own home and has made shopping around a lot easier.
As a business owner its transparency means you can use your website analytics to help define effective marketing campaigns. Mind you its transparency isn’t always good because it’s helped agencies such as GCHQ to develop tools and techniques to “snoop” on what people are doing whilst online.
You may think that’s a good thing, especially in today’s terrorist threats, but so you really want ad agencies scooping up information about your web movements so they can sell them on to the highest bidder?
If you’d rather they didn’t, here are a few tips to help you.
1. Search engines
Google is the number one search engine of choice for most people, but it also makes oodles of cash tracking your searches by selling on their data to advertisers.
How can you browse in peace? Well, the simple answer is to switch from Google to one of the smaller engines such as Blekko and DuckDuckGo.
2. Internet browsing
If you’re a Mac user you probably use Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari, but you guessed it, they all snoop on you and track your searches even if you’re using private search mode.
If you want the snooping to stop switch to Firefox, Tor or Opera.
You probably remember a while ago the fuss and bother that hit the fan when it came to light that Hotmail and Gmail were scrutinising the content of your emails. Again, the simple answer is to switch to a provider that encrypts your emails to keep them safe from prying eyes – such as Hushmail and Zixmail.
Mind you, changing email addresses is a bit of a faff, so I guess this one depends on how much you want to protect what you’re sending to people.
4. Social networks
These are the biggest giveaways of personal data. They are regularly trawled by hackers, criminals and the police. Pulling away from the digital social scene entirely may not be your cup of tea, so use them wisely and always be on your guard.
5. Encrypting files
For some this may seem a bit over the top, but if you’re serious about protecting your privacy encrypting all your files is the way to go.
Its a great way to keep all your files secure whether you’re sending them over the internet, backing them up or carrying them around on your laptop. The best place to start is by encrypting your hard drive.
Goof encryption tools include VeraCrypt and AxCrypt and if you use Windows 7 or 8 you can use BitLocker. Of course, your encryption is only as good as your secure password!
If you store you data in the cloud use a product such as BullGuard Backup.
6. Internet service providers
Yes, you guessed it, most of the popular ISPs also monitor your internet usage – including chat services, videos and Skype.
If you want to stop their income-generating fun try one of these services – VoxOx instead of Skype and Google Hangouts, Vimeo and Veoh rather than YouTube, Tresorit instead of Dropbox and Google Drive, and Crypto.cat and Pidgin.im rather than Gchat or Facebook chat.
The easiest way to stop apps from snooping is to ditch your smartphone and go back to your old school Nokia.
That might be a bit extreme, so how about switching off location services and turn off the apps that track you in the background. A useful app that roots out those that snoop is Protect My Privacy, which is available for both Android and iPhone.