How to Use the Web Safely
Published on July 20th, 2020
Being on the internet is like being in an ocean of data. It’s everything that we’ve thought of, done, and documented over a millennium. This includes encyclopedic bouts of study, jokes, and everything else under the sun. The downside to having access to all this info is, ironically, being in a net of individuals with all this info. Why? You’re a part of the said net. The info you put out is just as accessible to the outside world as anything online, especially your metadata. Every time you do something online, you release metadata that can be utilized and sold to advertising companies. It’s wise to have at least some sort of protection against unwanted attention online. Here’s how you can effectively use the web safely.
A virtual private network, or VPN, is an absolute necessity nowadays. The internet is a constant battlefield of harvesting data and metadata. The harvesters are just looking for the highest bidder. Because of this, anyone can access your position, your purchases, what you search, and everything else under the sun. Using a vpn service is like having a personal protective tunnel every time you use the internet. It keeps people from mowing exactly where you are, and keeps your movements, for the most part, private. If you input data and leave your mark by producing content, of course, this does not apply. But everyday browsing? You’re all covered. It gives a much-needed peace of mind to people who spend a significant amount of time online.
There are some search engines that actively track and save everything you do. That’s part of their business model: figure out what you search, see how you respond to related products via their algorithm, and then sell that information to massive marketing firms. If you don’t want any part of that, there are search engines you can use that are 100% transparent and take no part in that data collection. Of course, they’re less efficient for the exact same reason. But if privacy and security are your main concerns, search engines like DuckDuckGo do their jobs well enough. You can also rest assured that you won’t be offered with random things that algorithms think you may want. It keeps your experience within your control.
Avoid “Rabbit Holes”
There’s a rule on the internet: if you go down a rabbit hole long enough, you’ll hit some unsightly things. “Rabbit holes” are a self-perpetuating search loop that people find themselves in. It’s like playing investigator, but without a solid topic. The more you click, the further you stray off the path of your initial inquiry to the internet. Search engines, even privacy-oriented ones, do their best to try to keep the strange and the virus-ridden off of the pages. But jumping from one site to another without regard can definitely lead you to some malware and pop-ups. It’s always best to use the internet with a purpose and protect yourself.
Using the web safely may seem like a drag. Blind surfing is what the internet is for, right? Well, we also keep records and sensitive data on our devices. It’s in our best interest to keep hackers and scammers away from our personal information and credit card info. Because of that, certain precautions make sense. Use them. Stay safe.