A cyberattack on Bandai Namco, the Japanese video game company behind Elden Ring, has once again highlighted the issue of online privacy. The attack is just the latest in a series of high-profile attacks on companies.
So, if it’s possible for major online companies to become victims, how can we protect ourselves as mere individuals who use social media and the internet? Read on for a series of measures you can take to protect your online privacy.
Take advantage of privacy settings
First and foremost, you should undertake an overhaul of the privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure that you are not oversharing with strangers. Meta offers privacy check-ups to determine who can see what you are sharing on Facebook and Instagram, how to keep your account secure on these sites, and how you can be found by others. On Facebook, you can also limit access to past posts.
Use a finsta account
Secondly, consider the benefits of multiple social media accounts for different purposes. For example, when you have tightened the privacy settings on your social media accounts, you could also create a finsta or ‘fake Instagram’ to protect your privacy online. A recent study has found that 40% of young Americans have a finsta account. The finsta account, which is normally set to private and is limited to friends and family, can also be made anonymous by adopting an online alias.
There are, of course, plenty of concerns regarding the vulnerability of internet users dependent on their age. There was a misconception that younger users may be at more risk of hacking, stalking or cyberbullying. However, findings from a study by ExpressVPN revealed that ‘while Gen Z spends a lot of time online, they also have a high awareness of internet safety issues and take some precautions’. This is to say that, despite 11% of the Gen Z population saying that they spend more than five hours a day on TikTok, they’re savvy when it comes to safety measures and know how to avoid risks.
The Identity Theft Resource Center reported 817 publicly-reported compromises of data in the United States during the first six months of 2022. With so many companies being the victims of cyberattacks, it is also important to find out if any of your online accounts have been accessed. You can use sites such as Have I Been Pwned? to enter your email address and confirm whether any of your online accounts have been compromised.
You don’t even need to have been hacked for this to happen, it could be the case that you have inadvertently stayed logged in to your account. One solution is to use burner email accounts for shopping and other online accounts in order to ensure that the email address used for your bank is not linked.
You should also be aware that sites such as Facebook collect location and browser data on you in order to target ads towards you. To combat this, it is certainly worth installing a browser extension to block ads and data collection.
It is essential that you protect your online privacy by taking a number of steps to avoid unauthorized access to your online accounts. Alongside technological solutions, you should ensure that you have activated the privacy settings and consider using a finsta account to limit sharing photos and holiday experiences with friends and family.