Did you know that you have absolutely no internet privacy when you use Google Chrome, and your data is used to make billions? Therefore, it's important to learn how to be secure online so that you can protect your data and personal information as much as possible.
We aren't criticising big tech companies like Google, Facebook or Microsoft. However, we often find that people don't understand the status of their online privacy and the options they have, meaning that they lack privacy and security on the internet. It's not just for businesses – cybersecurity at home is vital too.
In this post, we're going to take a look at how to keep your personal information safe online so that you can surf happy.
What Are Privacy and Security on the Internet?
When you browse online using a web browser like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari, these tech giants collect information from you, and lots of it.
Nearly every website you visit and interact with uses technology to track you and your online habits, which is why privacy and security on the internet are hard to come by. Many people don't even know where to start with how to be secure online.
Google and Facebook, for example, have a business model of surveillance. Google makes over $100 billion per year from its advertising platform, which is made possible by all the data it collects from people like you and me.
What Does Google Track?
Google collects all kinds of data from you: your sex, your age, your marital status, your job industry and your interests, your browsing behaviour, your online purchases, your Google searches, your location history, and so much more. It then uses this data to build a profile of you.
You'll likely already be aware of some of the ways they use your data for personalised services through targeted advertising and location tracking.
- Targeted advertising
Targeted advertising refers to Google tracking what you're interested in and offering you more of it. As an example, you might be looking to book a hotel in London, and suddenly start seeing lots of adverts for hotels, things to do and places to eat in London. This is because Google recognises 'London' as a topic that interests you, so it offers you more pages that it thinks you'll like.
And, of course, they then get paid by the companies who are advertising.
- Location Tracking
Another example of the information Google collects is your location. Wherever you go with your phone, Google goes.
An example of how this could be helpful is if you wanted to see a movie after work. When you search Google for listings, it will show the movies playing at cinemas close to where you are.
You might find these types of advertising helpful, or you might think they're against your basic human right to privacy.
How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe Online
Many top professionals think that Google collects too much information, but from Google's perspective, it's not about how to be secure online - more information just means more profit for them.
In March 2021, Google came under attack after it revealed just how much data they collected when you used their Google Chrome web browser. In addition to this, this data was only released after it became mandatory to release it, and Google really dragged their heels with it, taking three months.
Google Chrome is the most commonly used web browser globally, with 25 billion active users. It collects much more data than any of its competitors, making it more difficult to know how to keep your personal information safe online. This has caused a bit of a stink in the world of privacy and security on the internet.
We have a previous blog post on how to stay safe online, but let's take a look at four options you have regarding how to be secure online for those who currently use Google Chrome.
- Do nothing
Firstly, you can not do anything. You might not be concerned with how to keep your personal information safe online, and you might see the data collecting as part of your overall experience. You might find it helpful. That's fine – it's your data, so if you find the personalised ads and features convenient, you can just do nothing and keep them.
- Chrome extensions
One of the good things about Chrome is that its software is flexible and open-source, so software developers can create software to add or remove features for Chrome. Installing the right Chrome extensions can help to keep your personal information safe online.
Browse to the Chrome web store and search for these four extensions
- HTTPS Everywhere will ensure that every webpage you visit has a secure connection.
- Privacy Badger will block invisible trackers.
- uBlock Origin is a blocker and filter that runs efficiently, using minimal CPU.
- Cookie Autodelete will delete any unwanted data once you have left the website.
Using those four extensions together will make your Chrome experience altogether more private.
Your third option is to use something called DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo keeps your search history private, allows you to escape the advertising tracking tools, ensures that all of your connections are encrypted and also shows you how much a website can be trusted for privacy and security on the internet.
DuckDuckGo is available as a Chrome extension or a full browser if you want to use it on a smartphone, and when it comes to how to be secure online, they take privacy very seriously. It's also easy to install – just remember that when you install it to Chrome, your default search engine will switch from Chrome to DuckDuckGo.
- Use another browser
You might have decided you want to stop using Google Chrome altogether. You don't want to be part of that big marketing machine, and you'd rather focus on how to keep your personal information safe online.
In that case, you can use another browser – one that takes privacy seriously. Our recommendation is Brave.
Brave is based on the same open-source Chromium code as Google Chrome, so it looks nearly identical (apart from its impressive lion icon). You can also use your favourite Chrome extensions with Brave, and it's nearly three times as fast as Chrome.
However, the best thing about Brave is that it's been built with privacy and security on the internet in mind. It makes sure your connections are secure and blocks all ads and trackers by default. It works on all devices, including your smartphone - and it's free.
If you're concerned about your business's cybersecurity and how to be secure online, please get in touch with our team today. We can review your existing security setup and offer consultations and IT support to ensure that your browsing is as private as possible. See our blog for more easy cybersecurity tips to implement today.