Did you know you can make yourself completely invisible? No, not literally invisible. We are not wizards here. Instead, we talk about digital invisibility. It is an online hack to keep your data and personal information out of the reach of hackers, fraudsters and unscrupulous “market researchers”.
And you don’t have to be a technical genius. It’s actually easy: just follow the latest advice from VPN provider and online privacy expert Surfshark.
It created several guides on how to become invisible online when using popular browsers, social media apps and gaming platforms.
Let’s take back control of our data.
Why online security is important
Hackers are always on the lookout for sensitive data they can sell or exploit.
They hack around 30,000 websites per day and breach approximately 22 billion data records every single year. Scary.
And they’re not going to stop anytime soon. In fact, the problem is only getting worse. 2021 saw a 92.7% increase in malware and malicious email attacks, and 2022 is on track to be a record year for cyber attacks and data theft.
What happens when hackers get your data?
Identity and data theft causes a world of pain. You will spend weeks, months or maybe years cleaning up the mess.
With your passwords and sensitive information, fraudsters can apply for credit cards, loans and mortgages.
They can gamble away your savings or use it to buy tons of cryptocurrency, which is then transferred to untraceable wallets and addresses.
They can open bank accounts in your name and use them for money laundering, leaving you in hot water with the police and government agencies.
They can target friends and loved ones, including your children.
And in some cases, fraudsters use your data to threaten and blackmail.
Getting hacked isn’t bad; it’s terrible.
But nobody’s data is really safe anymore, right?
Almost everyone uses – and needs – the internet in some capacity today. Sometimes it can feel like our whole life is online and we have no choice but to risk handing over our data.
Many have completely given up on the idea of keeping it safe.
According to surveys conducted by Surfshark, over 60% of people in the US believe they can no longer get through life without companies sucking up their data.
As many as 1 in 3 (33%) are unaware of online data protection and privacy rules.
And more than 8 in 10 people believe they are powerless to decide who can collect their data and what kind of data they can collect.
But there is a solution.
What does it mean to go dark?
“Going dark” means making yourself completely invisible online without deleting all your accounts and then staying off the internet forever.
Think of it as your digital invisibility cloak – or a superpower to avoid the evil hackers and scammers.
Choosing stealth or incognito is the fastest way to surf the web without leaving much of a digital footprint. But unfortunately stealth mode isn’t that “stealth” and clicking incognito isn’t the digital equivalent of a disappearing action.
In either case, ISPs and websites you log into will still track and store some of your data. And if they can do it, so can the sinister hackers.
Becoming anonymous on popular browsers
Here are some more tips to protect your privacy on popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox:
- Turn off tracking data to prevent browsers from knowing where you are.
- Block third-party cookies to stop browsers tracking every website and page you visit
- Limit web tracking permissions
- Turn off personalized ads
- Block browsers from sending your data to their parent companies, such as Google and Microsoft
Secure your social
Social media is all about sharing, but some things are best kept private. And we’re not talking about your Aunt Sue’s late-night Facebook antics. We are talking about your sensitive information; the information hackers are looking to steal.
Here’s Surfshark’s guide to safeguarding personal data on all the most popular social media apps, including Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
Stay safe on communication apps
WhatsApp upped its privacy game when it introduced end-to-end message encryption. But there are things you can do to keep yourself extra (extra) safe, like limiting who can see you online and disabling the live location feature.
You can tighten up the privacy settings on all the communication apps downloaded on your phone. The infographic below from SurfShark shows you how…
Invisibility mode: goes dark with online gaming
Staying safe while online gaming is a major concern, especially for parents with young children.
But Discord, Twitch, Steam, Xbox.com, and Roblox all have privacy and security settings to protect contact details, locations, and contact settings. You just need to know where to find them.
And Surfshark can point you in the right direction…
Reset your smartphone’s operating system
It doesn’t matter if you’re team Android or team Apple; both use underlying software with adjustable security settings for privacy.
With a few taps and swipes, you can block ad and email tracking, set messages to be automatically deleted, and stop location tracking. You can also disable some really creepy data features, like Face ID and fingerprint unlocking.
Hackers try to access your computer every 39 seconds, and legitimate apps are always looking for new ways to get your data. Don’t make it easy for them. Protect yourself. Go dark online.
Read next: Android apps collect a lot more data than they admit, here’s how