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When it comes to our online privacy, we probably a little laxer about it than we should be. Historically, we have been quite invested in protecting ourselves in the real world, so it comes as quite a surprise when we realise that our grasp on our online protection is little to none. We [very naively] spend more and more time online, but often do not grasp that all that time spent in the virtual stratosphere equates into a lapse in security at some point – unless we are doing the work along the way to ensure our protection online. Whether that self-insured protection comes in the form of making use of a VPN, installing password and data encryption systems on our devices, or even withdrawing from online use so much, action must be taken if any positive reaction is going to be possible. We live in a society that is more interconnected than it has ever been before. Because of this global connectivity, there are far more risks to our privacy in all aspects – including, especially in this tech-savvy era, our online privacy. It can be difficult to understand at first what it is that we can do to protect ourselves online – after all, the world wide web is a virtual extension of the real world.

Generally speaking, we have an over-confident trust in using online avenues. We trust that our information is being kept safe and secure on the websites that we invest that trust into. The reality is, however, that prospective threats to online privacy have expanded and evolved as rapidly as the internet itself has – if not even faster. We should not be surprised. The online landscape is one that is still being navigated, mapped out in detail. Because of this certainty, we have come face to face with the realisation that we have put more of ourselves into our online presence, and not enough time and effort into protecting that presence. Online privacy is about the same concepts and ideals that privacy in real life is – when it comes down to it, we all want to feel safe and trust in the environments we put ourselves in and the people we interact with. That is where it all comes together. There are some easy tricks that can be used as we browse online, and all these strategies are also easy to maintain, leaving no room for excuses when it comes to doing what we can to ensure our online privacy.

Look for the padlock icon in the search bar when you enter the web browser address online. When the padlock appears, your information is being kept as safe as can be. This is when you are most secure online. If the search bar does not have the padlock icon visible, then you are not safe online. It is quite simple, and yet most of us would not even know the padlock is there if we were not made aware of its function – we are so desensitised to what a standard web page looks like. Another fantastic online privacy tactic is to set up two-factor authentication whenever possible. In short, what this accomplishes is a protective barrier against cyber hacking attempts. This will effectively go towards ensuring that hackers are unable to penetrate through the barriers and gain access to your data. Avoid enabling location tagging on all devices, and be wary of openly identifying where any footage you might share is taken. This particular measure is more for personal privacy, but also for online security as well.

Data breaches are becoming more and more common online, and the reality is that there is not really a way to ensure 100% safety and security online – yet (and, if we are being completely honest, not in the near future either).We want to ensure ourselves the utmost privacy in all we invest our time, money, and/or effort in, but in the end what it really comes down to is bridging the gap between understanding that online privacy is important, and going out of our way to make sure that we ensure that privacy ourselves. We currently exist in a world that is more interconnected than ever before, and because of this global connection we have access to, we are more aware every day of just how much time, energy, effort, and data we are incorporating into our online presences. Many of us are unaware of what it takes to protect ourselves online. We continue to use the internet, of course, naively going through the motions, instilling more and more data and information, and never really understanding just how important it is that we go out of our way to protect that data.

Because of our increasing trust and dependency on the internet, we must be willing and able to consistently work towards viable online protection – even when that means taking additional time and putting in ongoing effort to ensure our online privacy. In an era where we trust and embed so much of our personal and professional data online, we have no other choice. The risks are too high. Online privacy is too important. As we delve deeper and deeper into this new tech-savvy era, we are going to inevitably incorporate more of our lives into the online landscape all the time. Taking protective measures yesterday, now, and always is crucial. We cannot afford to be lax with protecting ourselves online – not anymore.

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