Hackers can compromise your online privacy in a variety of ways. The world of technology is always evolving, and our connection with the internet is no exception. In the 1990s, it appeared as though the only thing you had to worry about was your email. Then you began banking online, and now your smartphone is connected, you have Facebook, and virtually every aspect of your life is online. And you are always monitored. Your ISP stores your whole surfing history, which is tracked by Facebook and possibly other advertising. Even your Internet of Things (IoT) devices may be reporting on you. Thus, maintaining privacy is already a significant undertaking — even before hackers become involved…
What data are hackers able to access?
You may be unaware of the extent to which your personal information is accessible via the internet. Let’s go over some of the different types of information that are available and why hackers would be interested.
Personally identifiable information – PII. This information includes your name, address, email address, SSN, social security number, tax identification number, date of birth, medical records, educational records, and employment. There is a wealth of information contained in this type of data that a hacker could exploit to steal your identity. It may contain information about purchases made on Amazon or investments made through an online broker. All of this personal data might also be utilized to corrupt your other online accounts.
Emails, SMS texts, and instant messages are all stored on servers. Your emails may include a wealth of information that you do not want the world to see – private business documents, love letters, and information about your financial accounts. Additionally, hackers will be interested in your connections, as they can use them to send phishing emails to everyone you know.
Cookies, ISP logs, and browser plugins that may retain data are all examples of surfing data. It’s beneficial to advertising, and with the arrival of Big Data, it may be much more beneficial.
You may be using the internet in real-time to make a Skype call or participate in video conferencing. Are you certain there is no one listening in?
You may be unaware that certain facts have been stored. Or you may be irritated by Facebook’s desire to inform your pals about what you’ve recently purchased or listened to, or by the LA Times’s display of adverts for something you looked at two weeks ago.
Hackers’ tactics are constantly developing. For example, phishing has been a widely used technique for over a decade. It entails sending bogus emails that either invite you to connect to a faked website that appears to be legitimate or contain links that download malware onto your machine. However, fraudulent social media links and stolen social media accounts are now being used to breach your privacy and steal your data.
While public Wi-Fi is a wonderful thing, allowing you to work from any Starbucks, it also introduces a significant security risk. Unprotected hotspots provide hackers with additional entry points into your device and data theft. What can you do in light of the fact that hackers pose a significant threat to your online privacy?
Protect yourself against hackers by utilizing a VPN.
Public Wi-Fi is not password-protected. This is advantageous for you, as well as for hackers, as they do not require verification. They can steal your data through Man-in-the-Middle (MTM) assaults or – in some situations – by setting up a ‘honeypot’ Wi-Fi hotspot and sucking up your data.
If you require Wi-Fi for your laptop, it may be more prudent to share your mobile 4G connection by setting up your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and securely connecting your laptop to it.
Even better, utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which turns your computer into a private gateway to the internet.
How can a VPN safeguard against hacking?
Rerouting your internet traffic to conceal your IP address, makes tracking you impossible. Additionally, encrypting the data you send over the internet, prevents anyone attempting to intercept your data from reading it. This includes your Internet Service Provider. Thus, a VPN is an excellent way to safeguard your online privacy.
A VPN is beneficial for more than simply online privacy and security; it also has a few other benefits. It enables you to access websites that the Wi-Fi provider has restricted – in some locations, this includes Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, because it is capable of accessing geolocation-restricted content, it can be beneficial if you are traveling overseas and wish to access financial accounts that are restricted to ‘foreign’ users.
You can obtain free VPNs – but they may come with restrictions. If you’re serious about protecting your online privacy, you should invest in a premium VPN; it’s well worth the money.
Encryption’s role in safeguarding your privacy
Additionally, you may wish to consider employing encryption to safeguard your online privacy. Indeed, you’re probably already doing this to some extent, as organizations that handle your data will occasionally encrypt it. For example, your bank’s website most likely uses encryption via SSL and TLS certificates.
If a padlock appears at the beginning of your browser’s address bar, this indicates that the connection between your browser and the server is encrypted. If you submit a form without encrypting it, a hacker could install a malicious program on the server that hosts the website, listening in on your conversations and stealing your data. No one can listen in if you fill it in using SSL/TLS.
how cyber hackers can gain access to your personal information
Additionally, if the URL begins with HTTPS:// rather than HTTP://, the website is employing SSL/TSL. HTTPS is a far more secure protocol than HTTP. Bear in mind, however, that encryption only safeguards your communication. Once your information is stored on the business’s server, it becomes vulnerable to any attack on the business’s network.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Skype phone calls are 100 percent encrypted – as long as they’re made entirely through Skype. However, when you contact a standard phone number through Skype, the connection across the PSTN (public switched telephone network) is not secured. This could enable an eavesdropper to listen in. You may also encrypt your Facebook messages using ‘Secret chats’ if you’re using an iPhone or Android smartphone – but not if you’re using a PC or laptop.
One of the reasons WhatsApp has grown in popularity is because of its end-to-end encryption. Other apps support encryption but do not enable it by default. Look find the setting that allows you to activate it – why on earth would you not?
Additionally, you may wish to use Tor, an anonymous, encrypted browser network, to prevent your browsing history from being traced. Tor is frequently used by investigative journalists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in hostile areas. Tor is not completely secure; malware has been discovered to be delivered using it, and it is still vulnerable to man-in-the-middle assaults.
Encryption is an excellent advantage if you wish to preserve your online privacy. However, governments are not always in agreement. Certain groups are attempting to compel technology vendors to incorporate a backdoor that would allow security agencies to access the data. Of course, the issue is that as soon as you leave a backdoor open, hackers will attempt to gain access.
Reduce your digital footprint to ensure your privacy is protected
When considering how to safeguard your privacy online, it’s essential considering whether you want to minimize your digital imprint. We’re so accustomed to sharing images online, informing our friends about music we’ve recently listened to, or places we’ve visited on social media… We don’t always consider where that information is stored or how it might be used.
This may require resisting certain suggestions made by social media and other websites, such as tags for persons you were with. This may entail disabling location services for some of your social media accounts. Pruning your online presence can be really beneficial in terms of preserving your privacy. Additionally, you can consider the following methods for limiting how much of your personal information is exposed on the web and to whom:
Maintain a private social media presence and limit access to your Facebook posts to friends only, rather than enabling them to be accessed by anybody on the internet.
Restrict who can send you friend requests, for example, from ‘everyone’ to ‘friends of friends.
Disable location, face recognition, ‘interests’ buttons, and social media ads. Certain social networking networks will publish your location online regardless of whether you want it to – this is bad for your privacy, and advertising “I’m not home” to robbers is a significant safety risk. Alternatively, you can disable geotagging simply by turning off the GPS on your phone.
Unsubscribe from any old email lists that you are no longer interested in being a part of. Consider utilizing a separate email account for one-time purchases, insurance quote requests, and the like. Maintain a separate email address for your friends and family.
Take care with Online of Things (IoT) gadgets that record your personal activities – password locks them, run them on a separate guest network to prevent them from gaining access to your internet accounts, and disconnect older or inactive devices from the network.
You are welcome to redact. If you wish to demonstrate that you passed your driving test, for example, you might upload a snapshot of your test result – but be sure to disguise your address, phone number, and other identifying information in the image.
Keep an eye on what is being done automatically for you. For example, some people do not want Google to automatically log travel arrangements in their calendars.
Bear in mind that social media did not begin as an advertising platform. It began as a service that individual users thought enhanced their lives. All of these suggestions may seem laborious, but they are simply a means of reclaiming social media as an enjoyable service rather than a drain on your privacy.
Using anti-hacker software to safeguard your privacy
There is now a diverse selection of software available to safeguard your online privacy and security. Some are targeted at preventing websites from tracking you, while others are aimed at preventing hackers from putting malware on your computer; some are available as browser extensions, while others require independent installation. Perhaps calling it anti-hacker software is a stretch – it will not prevent a determined hacker from breaking into your computer or obtaining access to your data – but installing such software can make it extremely difficult for a hacker to break into your computer or have access to your data.
Browser plugins, for example, can be used to prevent websites from tracking your activity. Facebook follows you while the site is open, even if you are not logged in, collecting your browser history for the purpose of showing you customized adverts. That may seem like an innocent goal, but Facebook’s data collecting and sharing practices have frequently come under fire, so you should consider safeguarding yourself.
Utilize a strong anti-virus and anti-malware program. If a keylogger Trojan succeeds to infiltrate your computer, you can kiss your online privacy goodbye! Cleaning your computer or phone periodically is also a good idea; ensure that no hacker applications are listening in.
Additionally, you may choose to acquire an app capable of wiping your phone’s data if it is lost or stolen. If your Google devices are synced, you can already remotely wipe data from any device. Allow no access to your contact information or banking apps – simply wipe the phone.
While this is not precisely anti-hacker software, a decent password manager is priceless. We encourage using strong passwords and unique passwords for different accounts and networks as a fundamental precaution for everyone looking to minimize the risk of infiltration – but this is not always easy to achieve when you have many accounts to secure. Using password management helps keep your accounts secure; just make sure you use a strong password for the password manager itself.
You could implement each of these safeguards independently. Alternatively, you may choose BlogVPN’s Total Security, which combines all of the necessary safeguards into one package.
How to safeguard your privacy
Protecting your online privacy requires the security of your devices and networks. We’ve already discussed various ways to accomplish this, such as by utilizing a strong password manager. However, the following additional methods can assist you in protecting your privacy from hackers:
Configure your accounts to use two-factor authentication. When you use PayPal, for example, you’ll receive an SMS message verifying each transaction. Other accounts provide a second layer of verification through the use of biometric identifiers such as fingerprints, patterns, or even a physical fob or dongle.
Avoid unapproved app downloads on your smartphone; instead, utilize the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Take care with the permissions you grant to smartphone applications. If a word processing app requests access to your camera and microphone, location data, in-app purchases, and your Google account, raise an eyebrow and examine why.
Remove software and applications that you no longer use or require.
Disable the ‘run as administrator option on all of your devices and avoid rooting or jailbreaking your phone. This implies that even if a hacker manages to take control of a program, they will be unable to access the phone or modify its settings, and will very certainly be unable to install malware on your phone or computer.
Maintain an up-to-date version of all your software. Hackers discover new vulnerabilities in out-of-date software and operating systems on a regular basis.
Deactivate the option for autofill. It’s a time-saving function, but if it’s convenient for you, hackers will make use of it as well. All auto-fill information must be stored in a central location, such as your browser profile folder. This is where a hacker will seek your name, address, phone number, and any other information necessary to steal your identity or gain access to your accounts.
Utilize a VPN or private browsing mode while conducting a particularly sensitive transaction.
Phones are diminutive and easily misplaced. Additionally, they are popular targets for thieves. As discussed previously, use a screen lock and install software that can remotely wipe your phone if it is misplaced.
Create a safe new router name and password for your router. By changing the password and encrypting it with WPA authentication, you make it more difficult for someone to hijack your router. However, why would you want to change your username? Simple – the majority of usernames indicate the type of router or network on which it is running. Change it to something different (ideally not your own name), and you’re also denying hackers access to that information.
Bear in mind to log out! Log out of an account once you’re finished with it. Allowing your accounts to run in the background is a significant security breach. Fortunately, the majority of banks now lock consumers out after a specified period of time. However, the primary threat to your privacy comes from social media.
These guidelines should assist in blocking all of the small backdoors that hackers frequently use to get access to networks, apps, and devices. Together with the other measures you’ve taken – minimizing your digital footprint, utilizing a VPN, and utilizing encryption – these should help keep your private life just that: private.
Is a VPN Effective at Protecting You from Hackers?
A virtual private network (VPN) is the ideal solution for a variety of online concerns, including accessing prohibited websites, concealing your browsing activities, bypassing internet throttling, and discovering better prices.
However, does a VPN shield you from hackers? Is using a VPN safer for your private information and files on the internet? How significant is the difference in terms of data protection?
The answers to these questions are not as straightforward as “Yes” or “No.” Therefore, continue reading to learn more.
Is a VPN Effective in Preventing Hacking?
You should absolutely use a VPN when connecting to a public network or your home wi-fi because it dramatically increases your privacy protection. However, a VPN cannot protect you from every form of cyber attack. Certain assaults are extremely smart and complex, and cannot be prevented even with a VPN.
However, let us examine some of the cyber threats that a VPN can thwart.
1 — Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attack
A MITM attack occurs when a hacker intervenes between you and the individual or web server with whom you are attempting to interact via the internet. It’s similar to eavesdropping, with the hacker interfering with and stealing data from an ongoing conversation or data transfer.
When a hacker determines which network you are connected to, they can take advantage of the network’s lax encryption standards to intercept your data flows. The most frightening aspect is that you will be completely unaware. Hackers can easily steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers or login credentials using this method.
The majority of wireless networks, particularly public ones, use the WPA2 security standard, which is an extremely insecure encryption technology that is prone to MITM attacks. Even the WPA3 standard is not completely secure.
Therefore, how does a VPN assist you in this situation?
A VPN encrypts all of your online activity. VPN encryption is nearly impossible to crack. When you use a VPN, your IP address is redirected to various locations. The hacker will have no idea what your true IP address is on the network. They will have no idea what websites you are visiting, and hence will be unable to intercept or reroute you to malicious websites.
2 — Remote espionage
One of the most time-honored and effective hacking techniques is gaining access to your machine via your IP address. Almost every website you visit collects information about your IP address. If an attacker compromises one of those websites, they will gain access to your IP address. Then it’s simply a matter of using that IP address to gain access to your system. We’re talking about your smartphone, computer, television, and any other device that connects to your wi-fi.
A VPN conceals your true IP address, preventing hackers from obtaining it. Thus, if you’re connected to a VPN while browsing the internet, no site you visit will actually track your true IP address, leaving hackers in the dark.
3 — Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)/Denial-of-Service Attack
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks occur when hackers overwhelm your network with malicious requests and traffic. The goal is to take you offline for an extended period of time or to crash the website/service you’re attempting to visit.
DDoS attacks are extremely inconvenient, and practically any would-be hacker these days is capable of running time. Consider attempting to achieve a deadline while being thrown out of your network.
However, if you use a VPN, you won’t have to worry about DDoS attacks. To carry out this attack successfully, the hacker must know your IP address. Without knowing your IP address, how is he going to target you?
A VPN safeguards you from being a target of such assaults by masking your true IP address, allowing you to maintain an unbroken connection.
It’s critical to understand that a VPN will not protect you against someone who already knows your true IP address. In these instances, the best course of action is to contact your Internet Service Provider.
Which Attacks Cannot Be Prevented by a VPN?
In short, a VPN will not shield you against assaults that do not require access to your IP address. For example, malware and phishing attacks.
Certain attackers can take control of your device by infecting it with malicious software, data, and codes. When you access unauthorized websites or attempt to download third-party applications, you risk being infected with malware.
Occasionally, hackers will send you a bogus email containing malicious files that, once opened or downloaded, can compromise your system. In certain instances, a VPN will be unable to assist you. Consider installing antivirus software on your device to provide further protection against malware threats.
Similarly, a VPN will do little to protect you from phishing attempts. The best it can do is to block obvious suspicious domains, such as “paipa1.xyz”. It cannot, however, protect you from phishing emails. Each month, hackers generate around 1.4 million phishing sites, the majority of which are difficult to differentiate from legitimate websites. You may enhance your defense against phishing assaults by installing anti-phishing browser extensions.
True, a VPN will safeguard you from the majority of cyberattacks that require access to your IP address. It may, however, be ineffective against more complex threats such as malware. Regardless, a VPN can provide you with superior safety when it comes to safeguarding your personal information and data online. Thus, owning one reduces your risk of being readily hacked online.
Additionally, a VPN can help you maintain an unbroken connection and, in certain situations, even enhance your internet speed.
Finally, if you’re concerned about protecting your online privacy, stay current on cybersecurity. New risks are always appearing, and new strategies for coping with them are developing in response. As you would with your computer software, keep your brain current by periodically checking in with the IT security community and perusing the latest articles here at BlogVPN.com.
Should I keep the VPN running at all times?
The answer to the question “should I keep my VPN on?” is yes. VPNs provide the highest level of online security, and you should keep it turned on at all times to protect yourself against data breaches and cyberattacks while using public Wi-Fi, as well as from intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers. Therefore, always keep your VPN connection.
What is it that a VPN does not protect you from?
It’s critical to keep in mind that VPNs do not function identically to full anti-virus software. While they will secure your IP address and encrypt your internet history, this is the extent of their protection. They will not protect you if you visit phishing websites or download compromised files, for example.
Is it possible for hackers to penetrate a VPN?
VPNs can be hacked, although doing so is difficult. Additionally, the likelihood of getting hacked without a VPN is substantially greater than the likelihood of being hacked with one.