It’s time to tackle the growing problem of your personal data being removed from uncontrolled online display, and there are solutions within your grasp.

Let’s face some hard facts about life online. We spend a lot of time with our electronic devices connected to the Internet. Websites track our movements, and mobile apps follow us everywhere we go and what we do. Data brokers are constantly on the lookout for little pieces of information that allow them to maintain a high-risk individual profile on us.

Like it or not, this is business. Businesses are targeting you with personalized sales pitches, hooking you up with online fraud scams, and reaping clues to your Internet identity. According to various industry reports in recent years, more than 4,000 data broker sites are collecting data from more than 500 million consumers.

Plus, you’ve probably painted a convenient picture of yourself using social media with lots of clues to your online identity. So never doubt that your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is exposed to hackers and people trackers, putting your personal and financial security at risk.

This article will help you become more aware of the rogue’s tactics to digitally track and attack you as they attempt to steal your data and online identity and make you a prime target for ransomware. . Familiarize yourself with these strategies for removing your data from public records websites and other online hotbeds of disparity.

clean yourself off the internet

Typically, personal data is harvested, bought, and sold over and over again. It’s hard to know who has access to your information, so it becomes a constant game of monitoring where your data resides, often only to find that it’s somewhere new.

Information on the Internet is so vast that it is nearly impossible to attempt to clean up your information with a broad-stroke solution. Search engines – Google has the largest footprint in this regard – are constantly gathering information about people and businesses. Add to that your social media and website presence. All those bits and pieces of data about you make it nearly impossible to prevent your name from appearing in search results.

Many data broker sites harvest your personal information, gleaning details of your life from public records and your online activity. It is a good practice to periodically search for news about yourself because once deleted, the data may pop up again elsewhere.

You can make the task of cleaning up your online identity more manageable by taking smaller, more targeted strokes that reduce the information available about you. Do what hunters do — search your name and see what descriptions and web sources appear in the results. Start with the biggest, Google, and make a list of where you get the most detailed data about yourself.

Next, make yourself less findable. Start the process from your default web browser. Go to the browser’s Settings panel and look for the Data & Privacy heading, then turn off the History setting and Record Web & App Activity. Repeat the process in any secondary browser you use.

Review your profile details in the “About Me” sections of the apps you use and in the privacy and security settings in social media apps and business listings. Consider removing as much personal, complex information as possible from everything you do and say online. This includes photos and other family pictures, as well as apps like Facebook and LinkedIn to restrict who has access to your most sensitive information.

Remove your personal data from public records sites

The growing focus on personal privacy online is forcing businesses to make changes in the way they wheel and deal with your data. Some of the barriers and stall tactics used by data brokers and search engine companies to make it harder for you to steal your personal information from their online warehouses have softened.

Here is a list of major data collection websites to consider targeting with deletion of information requests to help protect your privacy:

You can approach these online personal information mills and ask them to extract at least some personal details about you. Sometimes, you can even refuse to allow them to sell your information.

Often, one only has to check their websites to find their contact instructions for sending an email to request removal. Some offer an online form to request deletion of your information.

External help to get control of PII

When it comes to tracking your personally identifiable information online, the more you see, the more you find. Launching a mole-mole privacy campaign could bring down all but the most staunch defenders.

To take down the lone ranger approach, you can take the help of data deletion services. These companies use their own servers and search tools to automate the process for you. Subscribing to removal services that continually scrape and remove personal data can be a good investment.

Some data removal companies excel at doing this better than others. Beware of free services or services that offer bargain basement discounts. If you’re not happy with the results of one company, try another. The monthly or annual fee may be worthwhile to help your data disappear from the web. Some of these data deletion services offer free trials to give you a chance to assess their effectiveness.

In no particular order of preference, here are some of the services to check out:

  • OneRep claims to remove your personal and family information from Google and over 190 other websites.
  • BrandYourself is an online reputation management and privacy company providing solutions for individuals and businesses.
  • DeleteMe is a privacy information removal service that specializes in removing your personal information from Google’s vast search reporting network.
  • Incogni deals directly with data brokers, so you don’t have to spend hours guarding a display of where you live, your phone number, and where you prefer on the weekend to avoid falling into the wrong hands. It uses applicable privacy laws to compel data brokers to remove your personal information from their databases.
  • Privacy Bee helps to opt out of data broker databases and marketing lists.

Do It Yourself Privacy Options

If you’re more comfortable scrubbing the web yourself, a number of websites can help you achieve your privacy goals. Check out these handy web-based tools to fight your personal data privacy campaign.

  • Mine lets you find out where your personal data is located on the web. It can help you curate your online exposure to better ensure you are in control of your data ownership.
  • Unroll.Me is a toolbox for tackling the clutter that often builds up with online subscriptions. It automates the process of managing and revoking your digital trail with the possible sharing of your contact information. Note, however, that Unroll.Me is owned by e-commerce measurement firm NielsenIQ, so read their data collection and use policies when evaluating the service for privacy purposes.
  • Jumbo Privacy is a mobile app that helps you take control of your digital presence. It monitors the content of messages you send to limit unrestricted personal data sharing. This can be a tool to help you reduce the digital fragments that have already been shared. It constantly scans the Internet for signs that your data may have been compromised.
  • Just Delete Me is a website and browser extension that helps you delete your accounts from multiple web services. It uses a color-coding system to show whether the deletion process is easy, not so easy, or difficult on some 100 web services.

We hope these tips for limiting exposure to your personal data will help you secure your digital experience and protect your identity, your reputation, and your assets.

Digital crooks – what cyber security experts and law enforcement officials politely call bad actors – use elements of modern cyber communication to track your online activities. These elements are hidden in plain sight, but they are easy to reveal once you know where to find them.

You can bounce around false leads to disguise your activities or at least leave behind some misdirections to keep potential mischief-makers off your trail. Hiding your online activity is not illegal if you are not engaging in criminal activity.

When you use your computer, mobile phone or tablet to access the Internet, you receive an Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a Media Access Control (MAC) protocol that identifies each fragment. MAC) are easily visible via the address. of the computing hardware you use. We’ll cover these again in a minute.

The same is true when you use a mobile device with cellular connectivity because it pings cell towers around you to provide a connection. Therefore, surfing the web or using email on your cellular phone or tablet presents another access channel to your IP address. But your mobile device’s IP address is different, giving determined people enough of two ways to find and track you.

Keep in mind that your ISP (both fixed and mobile) has direct access to your location when you are online. They may also monitor your digital activities and may be ordered by law enforcement agencies to reveal that information under certain conditions. Even the websites you visit can tell that it is you and what you do while you are there. Other people who snoop on you can do the same.

Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally. Then, apply these strategies to prevent bad actors from using your IP address to load malware onto your devices, serve you with ransomware, hack into your financial accounts, or steal your entire online identity. Read on to know how you can prevent others from tracking you digitally.

network basics

The Internet consists of different pathways that are linked together. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a device connected to this series of networks. When you subscribe to a service provider, you are assigned a unique IP address, which may change as your device connects and disconnects.

A media access control (MAC) address is a 12-digit hexadecimal number displayed with a colon or hyphen separating each two digits. Hardware manufacturers assign MAC addresses to each computer, tablet, and phone that end users cannot change.

Once your IP address is determined, it indicates where your connection originated and the source of sending your emails. IP addresses are assigned to companies rather than countries. It is difficult to locate a location just by looking at a series of numbers. But an IP lookup tool makes it very easy to extract information from an IP address to find you.

Unlike IP addresses, routers typically use dynamic IP addresses, meaning they are not fixed or permanent. So it is easy to interfere with bad actors discovering its location. Every time you power it off and on, the router grabs a new IP address on the ISP’s network.

Secure, but not completely hidden

Remember that you want to hide your physical location to thwart other people’s attempts to hack or usurp your identity. It’s not our goal to hide illegal activity, and nothing here will hide you from your ISP or the police.

Network managers can always track your online activity, and they have your address from when you enrolled with them for service. Law enforcement agencies can work with ISPs to watch for suspicious online activity and find out who and where you are.

Also, consider that some apps query your IP address to learn the location of your device in order to help serve you personalized content. Hackers can create websites or apps that contain links that obtain IP addresses, which is one way individuals and companies become victims. Knowing your IP address enables evil actors to hack into your computer, attack company servers, or stalk an individual.

How to cover your digital tracks

Knowing how to avoid exposing your IP address at home or on the go will make it much more difficult for anyone with ill intentions to target your location. Protect yourself from the potential hassle of anyone knowing your IP address by using these strategies.

Premium Virtual Private Network Services

A VPN funnels your Internet connection through its own servers connected to its own network pathway. It hides your IP address so that you can surf the web anonymously.

Someone trying to track you can only see the VPN you’re using, not where you’re connecting to that VPN. This includes a willingness to help law enforcement or the VPN company without court intervention. Be aware that not all VPNs are created equal. Free services often sell your data to cover costs, and they may not encrypt your data.

web proxy services

Like VPNs, web proxies route your connection through their own servers. This filtering hides your IP address. Proxy servers – unless you pay for the good one – have some drawbacks. For example, hiding an IP address is not the same as hiding it completely. You set up a proxy connection in your web browser settings, but that doesn’t stop ISPs and tech-savvy hackers from looking up your IP address.

Some web proxy services to check out include Kproxy, Whoer.Net, HMA, Zyte, GeoSurf, Anonymouse, and Proxysite.

Verify Public Wi-Fi Security

Many legitimate businesses, airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. offer Wi-Fi to guests as a courtesy to customers.

Typically, however, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not encrypted and therefore less secure to use. They also pose a security risk because it is easy for bad actors to set up copycat connections to lure users in.

Be sure to verify that a legitimate organization actually sponsors any public Wi-Fi you use. Then you can probably safely connect to it without exposing your IP address.

Better yet, use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.

use specific browsers

Some web browsers provide free built-in VPN through their own servers. Opera is one of them. Perhaps the most well-known browser for hiding your online activity is the TOR browser. Its name means The Onion Router. TOR is free to download and use as a way to hide your IP address. It connects you to the TOR network and sends your data through random relay servers hosted by volunteers around the world.

Email Alternative: Go Anonymous

Most people don’t realize that every email they send is the equivalent of posting their home address online. It is a flashing beacon that alerts others to your base location.

To further hide this homing signal, use an anonymous email service. It gives false signals by masking the email header pasted on top of your email.

It blocks more than just your IP address. The email headers contain the IP addresses of all the computer systems that relay your message between the sender and the receiver, providing all the handy email metadata. Hackers use these details to trace the source of emails.

To get them out of your way, consider these two options:

  • Send your email through a dedicated anonymous email provider like ProtonMail, Starmail, Tutanota, Cyber ​​Atlantis, Guerrilla Mail, or others. These services hide your IP address and make it more difficult for anyone to access your real location.
  • Use a fake email account. Known as burner, throwaway, temporary and disposable email addresses, most work the same way. The service generates a random email address and sends the response from its servers to your specified real email address, which is not known to the sender or the responder.

This approach lets you sign up or register for various website programs without revealing your actual contact information. Some well-known fake email providers are 10MinuteMail, Temp-Mail, Minute Inbox, and EmailOnDeck. They all provide you with a new, unique email address.

be cyber safe

More than ever, the information superhighway creates on-ramps for digital attacks and traffic turns into dangerous places. You can fight back against cybercriminals with these tips to hide your online visits and protect your digital security.