7 steps for More Online Privacy and Control

9 Nov 2022 5:57 PM | Teresa Murphy-Spencer

Steps that can help you to be in control of your online privacy!

 Step One: Delete the accounts you don’t use.

Step Two: Delete apps you don’t use from your phone. Before you delete an app, make sure to first delete any associated account you may have created alongside it. Remove the app once that’s done.

Step Three: Audit third-party app access. If you use a social media account to log in to a service (like logging in to Strava with a Google account), you access social media accounts through third-party apps (like Tweetbot), or you use a third-party app to access data like calendars or email, it’s worth periodically checking those accounts to remove anything you don’t need anymore. By regularly reviewing app usage, you can gain more control over your data. All the major tech companies offer tools to see which apps you’ve granted access to your account. Go through and revoke access to apps and services you no longer use.

Step Four: Delete software you do not use on your computer.

Step Five: Remove browser extensions you don’t use. Browser extensions have a bad habit of taking all sorts of data, so it’s important to be careful what you install. This is also why it’s a good idea to periodically go through and remove any extensions you don’t really need.

Step Six: Remove yourself from public records sites. If you have ever searched for your own name online, you’ve probably come across a database that lists information like your address, phone number, or even criminal records. This data is accumulated by data brokers, companies that comb through public records and other sources to create a profile of people. You can remove yourself from these sites, but it can take a couple hours of work to do so the first time you try it. Check out this GitHub page for a list of directions for every one of these sites. If you’re short on time, focus on the ones with skull icons next to them, like PeekYou, Intelius, and PeopleFinder.

Step Seven: Reset and recycle (or donate) devices you don’t use. If you have electronics, you don’t use anymore—old tablets, laptops, smart speakers, cameras, storage drives, and so forth—factory-reset them (or if it’s a laptop, wipe the storage drive), delete any associated accounts, and then find a place to recycle or donate them. Older computers, tablets, and phones often have more life in them, and there’s always someone who can use them. Sites like the National Cristina Foundation can help you find somewhere to donate locally, and the World Computer Exchange donates globally. If you can’t donate a device, like an old smart speaker, most Best Buys have a drop box for recycling old electronics. The less cruft on your devices, the better your general privacy and security. But it also tends to improve the general performance of your hardware, so 30 minutes of effort is a win-win. Combined with a password manager and two-factor authentication, these steps can stymie some of the most common security and privacy breaches we all face.

PPLSI

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