5 ways to protect personal information online

With data collection, user profiling, hacker attacks, and security breaches on the rise, our devs share their best advice on how to protect personal information online.

Man protects personal information online

More and more people are taking action to regain control of their personal information

That’s information such as your name, address, phone number, email address, passwords (in the case of password managers), the schools you went to, medical data, financial information, and location

This is valuable data that represents a real person – you.

We asked our devs for some tips on how to protect personal information. Here’s their best advice. 

1. Share less 

There are many simple steps you can take to keep your personal information private. Being mindful of what you share is the first step. 

Think twice before sharing any data with anyone. Check whether you want them to have that data and check whether they really need it.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

Things like medical data, financial information and location are very sensitive and should be protected as confidential. 

Unfortunately, these things are really easy to leak if you’re not careful. People will casually mention them on public forums. Location information is also somewhat sensitive and even easier to leak – sharing pictures will usually do it for you.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

Another piece of advice is to use anonymous account names whenever possible and to not reveal the real identity to anyone.

If you do have to give your data to a company, give them only the minimum that you can get away with. If a field is optional, keep it blank. If you can use the service with dummy information in the required fields, use it that way.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

2. Know who you share with  

Do you know who you are sharing your personal information with? 

To begin with, only share sensitive information with websites that have a privacy policy that shows they will not share it with untrusted third parties, or make money from data mining – social networks are a case in point. 

Make sure that they have a proven track record of not being regularly hacked, or otherwise leaking private data, and that they have measures in place to protect your most sensitive data in the event of a hack, for example by using high-grade encryption and hashing of passwords.

Tarquin Wilton-Jones, Security expert at Vivaldi 

3. Focus on passwords 

Are you taking your passwords seriously? Here are a few tips on how to approach this important aspect of protecting personal information: 

Rule of thumb – never, ever reuse passwords.

Henrik Helmers, Designer at Vivaldi 

Mix words from different languages to create memorable but hard to crack passwords. Use a password manager and sync your passwords so you don’t lose them if your computer fails. 

Tarquin Wilton-Jones, Security expert at Vivaldi 

Be extra careful about your email since it’s used to reset passwords for accounts. Use two-factor authentication if you can.

Guðmundur Már Gunnarsson, Developer at Vivaldi 

Keep software up to date and apply patches immediately.

Tarquin Wilton-Jones, Security expert at Vivaldi 

4. Educate others 

The topic of protecting personal information can be daunting for the average person. Don’t shy away from educating others. That way you are protecting your own personal information too. 

Educate your friends, family or anyone you communicate with. There is no point protecting your privacy if they can’t protect what you share with them.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

The GDPR has been a major push for the privacy movement, not only in the EU, and this will go on in the next years.

In countries where that applies, users should definitely make use of it to regain control of some data if they feel that’s necessary.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

5. Beware of social networks 

Last but not least – some final words of caution. 

I do not use Facebook. As much as possible – do not use Google. YouTube is the only part of Google that’s really hard to not use. If you do, definitely do not use Google or Facebook to log in to third-party services. Use different passwords for every service. If one gets compromised, it compromises any account it has access to, and they keep their privileged access.

Julien Picalausa, Developer at Vivaldi 

Read the Cookies Policy of your favorite social media channels. Because of cookies, they know it’s you even if you search on different devices. It’s happened to everyone – looking something up on your mobile and then getting an ad for the same thing on desktop.

Takaaki Yoshikawa, Japanese Product Test Engineer  

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Read more on our Privacy blog.

Thanks to Henrik Helmers, Julien Picalausa, Guðmundur Már Gunnarsson, Takaaki Yoshikawa and Tarquin Wilton-Jones for sharing their insights.

Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

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